Although students in CBE programs are generally characterized as being older with work experience under their belts, it’s often hard to identify the true characteristics of these students because they are lumped in with the rest of the student body in their respective institutions.

New research summarized in a report indicates that CBE programs can reduce costs for students who are progressing toward a degree, although traditional models might be better for low-income students who aren’t taking as many courses per year.

But as more CBE programs become eligible for federal financial aid, they could make financial sense for more students.

In the report, author Robert Kelchen focuses on nine schools where many students are in CBE programs or have enrolled with prior credits. Those nine CBE institutions enrolled 146,924 undergraduate students and 57,010 students in the fall of 2012. Seven of the nine schools have mostly part-time students–for instance, 100 percent of Excelsior students are part-time and 99 percent of Thomas Edison students are part-time.

(Next page: Characteristics of CBE programs and students)


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