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JumpStart Funding in Jeopardy

Students in class

In partnership with the Kodiak Island Borough, the Kodiak College JumpStart college success program has served 524 first-time freshman and 295 high school students over the last decade – that’s 819 Kodiak students!  And 44 of our graduates since 2011 were supported by JumpStart, as well!

While this is great news, recent changes in the Kodiak Island Borough budget have placed this program at risk.

The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly has reduced its funding of Kodiak College from $84,000 in AY 2016-2017 to $60,000 in AY 2017-2018.  The current cut required Kodiak College to suspend the JumpStart program for the spring 2018 semester, which resulted in fewer high school students and first-time freshmen enrolling this term, and a loss of almost 100 student credit hours.

Even more alarming is that the KIB Assembly has proposed cutting its funding for Kodiak College programs entirely in AY 2018-2019.  That means zero dollars to assist first-time freshmen as they try to meet those essential benchmarks during that first year of college. Without those funds, we may see a return to the days where 75% of our first-time freshmen don’t even make it through their first year of college (see the back story below).

If you would like to help us save this critical program that has helped over 800 Kodiakans, please consider speaking with the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly representatives. The KIB Assembly typically meets on Thursdays at 6:30 PM (see full schedule here) and public comments are heard at the beginning of those meetings.  KIB Assembly members can be also contacted by email (see contact information here).

Here’s the back story: 10 years ago, Kodiak College needed to change the way we did things.

We had discovered that most first-time freshmen did not return after their first semester (up to 53%) or after their first year (up to 75%). For an institution that prided itself on putting students first, we knew this data was unacceptable. So, we identified and implemented programs and policies that incentivize the actions we know are essential for student success.

Here’s what we did.

In 2007, Kodiak College teamed up with the Kodiak Island Borough to fund the JumpStart program, which requires first-time freshmen to complete specific tasks in order to earn a tuition subsidy (fall 2017 students saved up to $660 on tuition).  The Kodiak Island Borough funds provide financial assistance to students who apply for admission to a degree program, take approved placement tests, participate in mandatory academic and financial aid advising, and attend New Student Orientation.  The JumpStart program results in new students experiencing at least five contacts with Student Services staff prior to starting college, and, subsequently, our data show strong persistence rates for Kodiak College first-time freshmen.

Why is that important? Because recent research shows that students who start at a community campus earn their degrees at much higher rates than those who start at four-year institutions.  And although college is expensive, students who earn credentials beyond a high school diploma are much more likely to be employed and earn a higher income than those who do not.

JumpStart students get started on the right foot and reach their academic goals.  For example, 86% of the fall 2013 JumpStart cohort persisted to the spring 2014 semester. Comparatively, fall 2013 first-time freshmen who did not follow the JumpStart process had only a 25% retention rate. More recently, data show that first-time freshmen in the JumpStart program persisted from fall to spring at a rate of 80% over three years (AY 2013–2014 to AY 2015–2016).

The most current data from AY 2016–2017 show that JumpStart students persisted from fall 2016 to spring 2017 at a rate of 85%! Retention drops off in subsequent semesters as expected, since many of our students plan to transfer to UAA or elsewhere after the first year, but it is clear that JumpStart is making higher education and workforce skill training more accessible for the underserved, low-income, and place-bound citizens of Kodiak.

The Kodiak Island Borough funds also support high school students who want to take Kodiak College courses on campus. Why is this important?

Because high school student do not qualify for financial aid and few families can afford the ever-rising tuition and fees.  JumpStart high school students who took classes in fall 2017 paid $75/credit, or $225, for a 3-credit course, which is substantial savings over the regular rate of $185/credit, or $555, for a 3-credit course! 

Furthermore, the UA Board of Regents has mandated a sharp increase to the Kodiak College tuition rate over the next two years to $202/credit in AY 2018-2019 and $223/credit in AY 2019-2020.  Funding programs that support our first-generation, underprepared, and low income first-time freshmen and advanced high school students who want to shorten their time to a college degree are more important now than ever.


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