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Friday, May 19, 2017

A Different Approach to Higher Ed

The traditional model of higher education just wasn’t working for students of Paul Quinn College, Dallas, TX. The school’s solution was to incorporate flexibility, experiential learning, and entrepreneurial thought.

Under the New Urban College Model, the first federally recognized urban work college, participating students are employed for 10-20 hours a week and earn an annual stipend of up to $2,000 each academic year. Since nearly half of Paul Quinn students live at or near the poverty level, the institution uses open-sourced course materials so students don’t have choose between helping their families financially or buying textbooks. Varsity football was also eliminated and the field turned into an organic farm, providing hands-on learning and helping to feed the surrounding community.

The effort has driven down the cost to attend Paul Quinn College from nearly $24,000 annually to just under $15,000 for residential students. In addition, four-year loan debt averages are now less than $10,000.

“It is irresponsible to tell students from poverty that the way out of poverty is massive amounts of student loan debt,” said Paul Quinn President Michael J. Sorrell, during his presentation at the ASU + GSV Education Technology summit. “That is not right. We refuse to buy into that culture.”

The model has worked for Paul Quinn, which has been called an emerging national leader by The New York Times. Sorrell also earned a 2017 Social Innovator award from the Lewis Institute at Babson College for his efforts.

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