National University, a California nonprofit that caters to adult learners, announced Thursday that its prior learning assessment initiative saved its students $25 million in tuition costs over a three-year period.
The university launched the initiative in 2017 as part of what it calls a “comprehensive onboarding process” to plan students’ educational and career paths. According to a press release, the initiative uses the university’s integrated student information systems to create and visualize degree maps that include all course and program requirements, transfer credits and prior learning credits. Administrators claim the tool generated the $25 million in tuition savings for its students between February 2018 and February 2021 via the prior learning credits earned at the university.
“We need to use every lever at our disposal to increase access and affordability and meet the unique needs of each student through a highly customized approach,” Michael Cunningham, the National University system’s chancellor, said in a press release. “Rather than presupposing which degree or credential a student may need, this work is about understanding the rich and dynamic learning experiences—in all their complexity—each student brings. It’s about respecting where they are now and where they want to go, saving them time and resources in the process.”
National University says it’s now expanding the credit opportunities available through the tool to reduce the ultimate cost of degrees in criminal justice and nursing, as well as to provide credit for military experience. The school, which has 27 locations, most of them in California, also operates on numerous military bases.
Universities are increasingly adopting tools like the one National University uses in its degree path initiative as they strive to personalize each student’s education. In pursuit of “student success,” administrators at the University of Texas at Austin, for instance, employ a degree-auditing platform that they say is ushering more students onto the graduation stage.