Report of the Student Services Action Team

Prepared for the Joint Boards Articulation Commission
July 28, 1998


Introduction

The purpose of this report is to provide an account of the deliberations of the Student Services Action Team, a body appointed by the Joint Boards Articulation Commission (JBAC). This report is organized into two sections. This introductory section provides a brief description of the activity of the Student Services Action Team, while the following section discusses the recommendations to the JBAC arising out of the Action Team discussions.

The Student Services Action Team was established by the Joint Boards Articulation Commission in early 1998 - as part of a series of groups charged with examining a range of transfer and articulation issues. The scope of JBAC Action Team activity was primarily undertaken in order to prepare a report to the 1999 Oregon Legislative Assembly in response to HB 2387. Consistent with the JBAC's 1997-99 workplan, the Student Services Action Team was issued the charge to:

Identify student support service systems that enable students to navigate effortlessly between and among educational sectors (primarily the community colleges and the public baccalaureate-granting institutions).

The Action Team also interpreted its charge to include the identification of barriers which impede effective transfer and to make suggestions and recommendations that could lead to the elimination of such identified barriers.

Under the direction of Action Team chair, Dick Stenard (Vice President for Student Affairs, Eastern Oregon University), the group met four times (March 18, April 22, May 21, and June 17, 1998). Initial discussions the group centered on identifying current successful student service practices as well as listing areas of possible concern. Of particular interest to the Action Team was the development of dual admission/co-enrollment programs as joint efforts between community colleges and OUS campuses. An examination of the processes of establishing and maintaining such agreements led to the identification of a variety of policy issues that the Action Team chose to discuss; these agreements most clearly indicated where barriers lie in terms of providing an integrated system of student services across sectors. These issues, identified at the second meeting of the Action Team, encompassed a wide variety of student services areas. Subsequent discussions of the Action Team led to the development of the recommendations presented in the following section.

 

Recommendations

Included in this section are the recommendations from the Student Services Action Team in the areas of: (1) academic calendar, (2) admissions, (3) financial aid, (4) residency, (5) satisfactory academic progress, (6) student information, and (7) tuition and fees. The specific recommendation statements (in bold typeface) are preceded in each case by brief, context-setting remarks.

Academic Calendar.

At present, the academic calendars at Oregon University System and Oregon Community College institutions are not congruent. Although each institution may have specific program needs (e.g., staff training, new student orientation, registration, etc.), instructional time requirements are basically the same for academic credit. By tradition, instructional activity during the Fall, Winter, and Spring terms is relatively standardized to ten to eleven week periods. Summer sessions are far less standard and many short-term opportunities are offered at most institutions, often to non-continuing students.

Students who wish to cross enroll at multiple campuses or transfer to another institution now face a variety of start and end dates for same term enrollments. As a result, students are frustrated by administrative and procedural problems (e.g., financial aid, registration, fee payment, etc.) which may impede their academic progress.

The Student Services Action Team recommends that the Oregon University System and Oregon Community Colleges adopt a universal calendar for instructional activity for the Fall, Winter, and Spring terms. (Summer term activities are generally more "non-traditional" and many short-term instructional opportunities are offered - and, therefore, are too complex for a standard calendar for all institutions.)

Admissions.

Several Oregon Community Colleges and Oregon University System institutions have recently adopted concurrent enrollment and/or co-admissions programs. There is increasing interest by all education sectors in more effective transfer of community college graduates to baccalaureate degree-granting institutions. Institutional initiatives to accommodate all such enrollment initiatives need to be encouraged.

Experience indicates that co-admission and concurrent enrollment agreements between institutions must be negotiated on the basis of specific circumstances with a goal of minimizing administrative and program restrictions for interested and qualified students. In some instances, transfer admission standards which are higher than 2.0 cumulative grade point averages hinders the development of co-admissions and concurrent enrollment agreements.

To accommodate concurrent enrollment, co-admission, and transfer activity, the Student Services Action Team recommends that incentives and funding be sought for establishment of interinstitutional cooperative instructional, admission, and transfer activities.

In addition, the Student Services Action Team recommends that Oregon University System institutions consider adoption of "good academic standing" (minimum 2.0 cumulative grade point average) as its standard for admission for students from Oregon Community Colleges.

Financial Aid.

Mechanisms have been developed to allow co-enrolled students to use credits at more than one institution to determine financial-aid eligibility. However, the degree-granting "home" institution remains responsible for any financial liability incurred in the process.

The "home" institution is responsible for determining the courses taken at the "host" institution which count toward degree requirements. The costs at the "host" institution must be accounted for in the student's budget. Refunds to the U. S. Department of Education are the responsibility of the "home" institution. Ideally, those costs can be recovered from the "host" institution. Determining withdrawal and/or last dates of attendance at the "host" institution becomes the responsibility of the "home" institution. It is important for the two institutions to share student grade and registration information with one another. A technology solution needs to be developed for this purpose.

Michael Cagle, Institutional Improvement Specialist from the U. S. Department of Education in Seattle recently indicated that a "home" institution can have a consortium agreement with multiple "host" institutions. According to Mr. Cagle, there is no minimum credit hour requirement at the "home" institution. Previously a student was required to enroll for at least one credit at the "home" institution. Mr. Cagle recommends that the "home" institution notify their accrediting agency of these agreements and receive an approval to proceed.

The Student Services Action Team encourages institutions to explore the use of consortium agreements, in some cases with multiple "host" schools if appropriate, to provide better financial aid access for student concurrently enrolled in multiple institutions. Institutions need to ensure all required consortium agreement requirements outlined in the Federal Student Aid Handbook be included in these agreements. Notification to the accrediting agency and a response from that agency is recommended by the U. S. Department of Education prior to execution of these agreements. A technology solution to assist in tracking all requirements of financial aid needs to be pursued as the process currently is manual and tedious.

Residency.

A non-resident student at a community college gets more state support than an Oregon resident does at an OUS institution. In-state residency requirements for Oregon community colleges and the Oregon University System are not congruent. All border-state students at Oregon community colleges pay the same rate of tuition and fees. Students in the Oregon University System must establish residency at first enrollment to enjoy in-state tuition benefits. With few exceptions, a continually enrolled student is unable to change residency status after first enrollment.

The incongruence of the residency requirements is not often a problem for traditional students (full-time enrolled, 18-22 years old). The situation becomes more problematic for some financially independent, non-traditional students. For example, there are a number of students who initially enroll at an Oregon community college as out-of-state residents. In the course of time, these students move to Oregon to continue their studies. These students also relocate families as find work in Oregon. They plan to remain in Oregon indefinitely. Such students presently would be ruled by OUS as ineligible for in-state residency because their first and primary reason for moving to Oregon was to pursue educational opportunities. Such students would have to "stop out" from higher education for 12 months then apply for residency status.

The Student Services Action Team recommends that the Oregon University System revise its residency rules to provide individuals an opportunity to establish residency regardless of their initial and continuing enrollment in an Oregon public or private college.

Satisfactory Academic Progress.

Every campus participating in the Student Financial Aid (SFA) Programs is required to monitor recipients' satisfactory academic progress. Each institution must develop reasonable standards for measuring progress.

The policy must be applied to all students receiving aid. Standards are adjusted for less than full-time enrollment status. The school must include both a qualitative and a quantitative measure. The quantitative measure must not exceed 150% of the published program length. The qualitative measure must consist of minimum credits and GPA. Standards must be cumulative and include all periods of the student's enrollment, whether or not they received financial aid.

An institution's satisfactory academic progress policy must explain how withdrawals, incompletes, repeat courses, and non-credit remedial coursework affect the academic progress determination.

Each institution must also establish procedures that enable a student to appeal a decision of not making satisfactory academic progress. While a student is determined not to be making satisfactory academic progress they are ineligible to receive financial aid.

The Student Services Action Team recommends that the area of Satisfactory Academic Progress standards needs further review to determine if there are common areas of Satisfactory Academic Progress policies which can be standardized for all institutions while at the same time allowing for individual institutional discretion.

Student Information.

Ready access to information about individual students is fundamental for efficient and effective services. There are two basic forms of student information: directory information and educational records. Within Federal and State mandated parameters, institutions may permit access to directory information (student name, address, telephone numbers, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in recognized activities, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, and the most recent previous educational institution attended) subject to specific student requests for suppression of access and restrictions set by institutional policy. Access to educational records (grades, test scores, etc.) by persons or agencies external to an institution is restricted by Federal and State law. Requests for educational records are subject to release by the individual student for specific instances.

The Student Services Action Team recommends that Oregon University System and Oregon Community Colleges work to establish common guidelines for the definition and release of student directory information to accommodate ready access to other educational institutions which have on-going legitimate needs for such information. An example of the appropriate use of directory information would be the identification of community college graduates for universities to contact about transfer opportunities.

In addition, the Student Services Action Team recommends that the Oregon Community Colleges and the Oregon University System seek means, including possible legislative action, which would permit institution-to-institution exchange of students' educational records. Such exchanges of student educational records will enable Oregon community colleges and universities to track transfer students' progress.

Tuition and Fees.

Tuition and fees at Oregon University System and Oregon Community College institutions are varied. Fees which support specific programs (e.g., student activities, health services, technology, etc.) are determined at the institutional level. Different tuition rates (reflecting different instructional costs) at campuses hinder concurrent enrollment by some students because financial-aid awards by their home institution cannot be customized to reflect their actual costs of attendance. In addition, the level of State and other subsidies are not equal for the identical courses and course levels.

The Student Services Action Team recommends that the Oregon Community Colleges and Oregon University System study the feasibility of establishing standard tuition rates for identical courses and course levels. Such a study must, of course, account for actual and accurate costs of instruction--and suggest a mechanism and level for funding by the State legislature.

In addition, the Student Services Action Team recommends that each institution make provision for partial and full fee waivers for students unable to utilize the respective funded programs (e.g., a distance education student may not be able to benefit from a fee-supported health center).

 

 

Action Team Members

Dick Stenard, Eastern Oregon University, Chair
Jim Arnold, Oregon University System
Joanna Blount, Southwestern Oregon Community College
Eleanor Brown, Mt. Hood Community College
Kathy Campbell, Chemeketa Community College
Sam Collie, Portland State University
Beth Murphy, Oregon Institute of Technology
Michele Sandlin, Oregon State University
Joanne Truesdell, Chemeketa Community College
Elaine Yandle-Roth, Office of Community College Services
Dana Young, Blue Mountain Community College

 

 

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Revised: January 6, 2000
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