National University, a California-based nonprofit that caters to adult learners, says that its prior learning assessment tool is “dramatically” reducing tuition costs and time to completion by automatically counting prior learning credits.
The tool is the result of the school’s three-year Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) initiative. The initiative is part of a series of reforms aimed at dramatically increasing access and affordability, and accelerating degree completion for working adults. National University said that over the last three years the tool has saved students a combined $25 million in unnecessary tuition costs.
“At a time when many working adults are facing financial barriers to their educational and career goals, we need to use every lever at our disposal to increase access and affordability and meet the unique needs of each student through a highly customized approach,” said Dr. Michael R. Cunningham, chancellor of the National University System and interim president of National University. “Rather than presupposing which degree or credential a student may need, this work is about understanding the rich and dynamic learning experiences – in all their complexity – each student brings. It’s about respecting where they are now and where they want to go, saving them time and resources in the process.”
In a press release, National University said it used its integrated student information systems to build a process for “creating and visualizing a comprehensive degree map for each student.” The degree map includes all course and program requirements, transfer college credits awarded, and prior learning credit granted.
In addition to saving students money, National University said the tool has accelerated progression to degree for thousands of students by waiving over 14,500 courses through prior learning strategies.