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As class of 2015 celebrates graduating from college, they will also share the unique distinction as the most indebted class in history. Over 70% of graduates will had to have taken out a student loan, which is an 11% increase in the number of student-loan holders from a decade ago1. Here are the latest facts2 summarizing the state of U.S. student debt, and its trajectory:
Last year's record setting graduating class of 214 students was shattered this past week as 289 graduates received their diplomas during two separate ceremonies, with another one scheduled for this upcoming week. The Lakeland campus ceremony was held at Highland Park Church of the Nazarene, Lakeland, Florida with over 1,000 friends and family members in attendance. A few days later, the Davenport campus graduation ceremony was held at Polk State College, Winter Haven, Florida with roughly 2,500 friends and family members gathering to cheer the graduates on!  Gause Academy will celebrate their graduation on May 30th.
Next week, Penn Foster will be heading to Denver, Colorado to attend the 2015 APSCU Convention and Exhibition. The conference brings together over 1,000 attendees from private sector colleges, and offers the opportunity to share the latest trends, innovations, and best practices in post-secondary education. 
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In 2006, a group of dedicated leaders, organizations and communities set an ambitious goal for our educators: Achieve a 90% national high school graduation rate by the Class of 2020. This influential group would eventually become known as the GradNation campaign, a large and growing movement committed to graduating more high school students and preparing all students for success.
The Gallup-Purdue Index, a new study from Gallup has shown that positive student outcomes are more important than ever for colleges to prioritize. In 2014, Gallup surveyed 30,000 college grads to ask them about their college experiences and life after college.The survey concluded that the student experiences that had the highest impact on long-term life success can be whittled down into two categories: student support, and experiential learning. More specifically, this means a greater focus on mentorship, encouragement, and engaging students with career-focused, experience-centered studies.
As obvious as it may seem, an important step to getting your high school completion program off the ground is simply finding the right students to enroll. Some of the best channels for finding potential students are resources and connections you already have:
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Mention the words "summer school," and you'll likely garner some eye rolls and groans from students eager to take a break. After all, sitting in a classroom on a partially empty campus doing schoolwork cannot rival the warm-weather vacation escapes that loom on the horizon. It's no wonder going to summer school feels like punishment. But summer school has its benefits and luckily, you're there to point them out to your students. Whether they are suffering from low grades and falling behind schedule or they have the potential to get ahead, encourage your students to take advantage of this powerful academic offering.
Ability to Benefit (ATB) is a national policy through which students lacking a high school credential can prove their "ability to benefit" from college by taking a general skills test. If students perform well on these standardized exams, they can enroll in college despite never having earned the necessary credential (usually a high school diploma or a GED). ATB also allows students who do well on these exams to receive  financial aid . In 2012, there were approximately 82,000 ATB students in public two-year colleges (about 1% of the total community college population), though not all of them were receiving financial aid. A longitudinal study from the National Center for Education Statistics found that only 33% of students admitted under ATB in 2003 had earned a college credential by 2009.1 Ability to Benefit was eliminated by Congress in 2012 to cut spending on Pell Grants, but in late 2014 it made a comeback.
Waiting for Superman is a "gripping, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful documentary" about the crisis of public education in America. The battle to solve many of our country's problems starts with addressing one of our biggest ones: education. A great education is crucial for the success of the young students in our school system right now - the same kids who are the future of our country. And to reach their full potential, they need a great education. But the school system in the United States is failing so many of these kids, despite years of well-intended reforms and large sums of money spent on the problem. Today, 1.2 million students drop out of high school every year in the US. And dropouts are more likely to go to prison, to need social welfare assistance, and are less likely to vote. Watch this short video, designed by Jorge R. Canedo Estrada and published by Buck.tv, to learn more about these serious problems plaguing our country today.
The student loan crisis is often talked about, but what the headlines rarely show are the changes to legislation that help lessen the burden of student debt. Small adjustments to statutes for student loan repayment are making a big difference in terms of education affordability. Legislation is in place right now to help make college attainable to all students willing to put forth the effort. To best inform your students of their tuition payment options, it's important to understand the past, present, and future student loan programs.

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