We’ve had some time to gripe and complain a bit, so let’s get down to business. What ideas do we have to change the way WGU operates, so we can all be happy (or at least happier)? I’ll start off with some ideas I’ve heard kicked around at the water cooler. If I have misrepresented your idea, please feel free to correct me. If you think the ideas are stupid, crazy, impossible, whatever – you must supply not only a reason why, but another alternative solution. Here we go.
1) Phased disbursement – This is not an original idea, the US Dept of Ed suggested it. This approach would make financial aid overages available at specific points throughout the term, such as at the end of months 2, 4 and 6. The idea is to stop (or slow down) the students that grab the money and run, never to be seen or heard from again. I would also like to suggest that we couple this with a requirement that to get the money, students must show some sort of progress – passing an exam, submitting some (or all) of the course tasks, etc.
2) Pay back for non attempts – This approach would make students pay back the financial aid they received if they do not “significantly” attempt a course by the end of the term. They would not be able to continue to another term unless they made payment or were set up on a payment plan. This happens at more traditional schools when a student drops below full-time. They get a bill from the university to pay back the financial aid money – no payment plan or payment in full – no more enrollment. So, this does not apply to students that actually try/attempt a course, but fail it. This applies to students that DO NOT use the LRs, DO NOT attend webinars or chats, DO NOT meet with Course Mentors, and DO NOT attempt to turn in a task or sit for an exam. It would also “catch” those students that term-after-term only do 66.67%.
3) Streamlined reporting – This would be a way for everyone at WGU (enrollment, financial aid, mentors, etc) to report suspected financial aid fraud. A trigger for a mentor might be a student saying “I’ve reached 66.67% SAP, I’m not going to do anymore”. They enrolled for a full-time load and when they say they do not plan to do a full-time load – that’s fraud. A trigger for financial aid might be when student calls and asks “What happens to my financial aid if I don’t complete all my courses”. The report of such incidences needs to be tracked and FOLLOWED UP ON by a team made up of a representatives from management, mentoring, financial aid, enrollment, etc. The entire university needs to know we have a ZERO tolerance for fraud. This should be a metric that is reported quarterly to all staff (i.e. “We have investigated 201 instances of financial aid fraud. We have turned 10 cases over to the Dept of Ed. We have handled 156 cases internally.”, – you get the idea).
OK, that’s enough of my ideas (and the ones I’ve stolen from others). Let me hear from you!
Bob – if you’re working on an idea for change, now would be a good time to float it out here. Maybe Jenny should comment?
Remember everyone, if you don’t like the idea you must outline “why” you don’t like the idea and you must supply an alternative. No “that is stupid” or “that sucks” will be tolerated I expect more from you than that!