New ACCT & TICAS Brief Highlights Community College Strategies for Improving CDRs to Protect Students

October 13, 2020

The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) and The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) today released What Works: College Strategies for Reducing Student Loan Default, a brief highlighting approaches to default prevention that community colleges use to support students and improve their cohort default rates (CDRs).

Default is the very worst student loan repayment outcome, bringing severe and often financially devastating consequences to over 1 million borrowers who default each year. If too many of their former borrowers default shortly after leaving school, colleges themselves may also face severe sanctions from the federal government, including loss of federal financial aid eligibility.

The new brief revisits some of the colleges profiled in a 2014 report ACCT and TICAS published, Protecting Colleges and Students: Community College Strategies to Prevent Default, to learn what practices they have adopted and refined over time to improve student outcomes and lower their CDRs. Default prevention strategies used by the colleges highlighted in What Works offer valuable lessons for other colleges committed to continuously improving their CDRs.

“Colleges’ actions can and do meaningfully reduce their students’ risk of default,” said Lindsay Ahlman, Associate Director of Research and Knowledge Management at TICAS. “With the COVID-19 pandemic threatening the financial security of millions of students, it’s imperative that colleges act now to set their students up for repayment success.”

“With the FY17 CDRs released last month showing that default rates are at their lowest in nearly a decade, it’s important for our institutions to learn best practices that can help them reduce their students’ default rates,” said ACCT President and CEO J. Noah Brown. “Taking early action, and continuously improving a CDR directly translates to positive outcomes for students. Doing so also enables institutions to continue providing federal financial aid to their students in order to make higher education more accessible.” 

The colleges we revisited include:

  • Grossmont College (El Cajon, Calif.)
  • Guilford Technical Community College (Jamestown, N.C.)
  • Lane Community College (Eugene, Ore.)
  • Minneapolis Community and Technical College (Minneapolis, Minn.)
  • Moraine Park Technical College (Fond du Lac, Wisc.)
  • Valencia College (Orlando, Fla.)