An update from the CAEL conference on helping employees graduate from college.

Cody Cleverly from JetBlue Airlines shared at the CAEL conference in Chicago his views of Tuition Reimbursement.  He discussed leveraging alternative pathways to assist JetBlue employees in earning a college degree and paying upfront instead of reimbursing their employees, focusing on Tuition Assistance, not Reimbursement.  The average learner at JetBlue is 38 years old.  They don’t want to disrupt their work and home life to sit in a campus for years to complete a degree.

jet-blue-at-caelCody (far left) shared that the $5,250 amount for reimbursement is a relic from the past that does not help an employee complete their degree.  In fact, it often hinders them from degree completion.  They have to pay for a course up front and then be reimbursed months later.  So employees often take student loans and then get caught in a debt trap.  Or they just take two or three courses a year to stay under the reimbursement amount, which puts them on a path that usually does not end with degree completion.

Alternative credit works yet most tuition reimbursement programs don’t support alternative credit.  At Jet Blue, they are able to help employees work toward their degree at half the cost and often twice the pace of a traditional college experience.

Jet Blue has six full-time success coaches that help their employees unbundle college. They provide a model, and way of thinking, that every organization should explore.

What role should accreditation play in a true overall in the Higher Education Act?


Higher Ed needs to change.  Can our accreditation system lead this change, or do we need a new way to measure and monitor success in Higher Ed?

Barbara Gellman-Danley, President of the Higher Learning Commission and Beth Sibolski, President of MSCHE talked about innovation, the future of higher ed and the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act at the 2016 CAEL conference this afternoon.

An important conversation with many challenges and no clear answers.

Fundamental questions on how success in higher ed should be measured have no clear cut answers.  By today’s DOE guidance success is measured by:

  • Graduation rates
  • Cohort default rates
  • Loacael-2016-accrediationn repayment rates
  • New DOE leadership will have a different approach on measuring institutional success, but what will it be and what role will our accreditation leadership have on the new approach?

If we can’t answer the question on how to truly measure student success, and it was clear today we can’t, perhaps we need an entirely new approach to accreditation and the Higher Education Act.  It was written over a half century ago…