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Why the Obama Administration Wants More College Students in Non-Traditional Programs

The US Department of Education buildingThe US Department of Education building
U.S. Department of Education building in Washington D.C.Photograph by Saul Loeb — AFP/Getty Images

The Obama administration is spending millions of dollars to fund new programs addressing the nation’s ongoing higher education crisis, as fewer and fewer Americans finish college with the skills to compete in today’s economy.

The U.S. Department of Education today announced it’s allocating up to $17 million in student loans and grants primarily for low-income students to attend eight new training partnerships between traditional four-year universities and non-traditional education institutions, including coding bootcamps and online courses, according to a press release.

Previously, federal financial aid was only offered to students attending community colleges, trade schools, or traditional four-year universities. Education reformers believe this new program may help more Americans pay for higher ed programs that lead to better 21st century career prospects.

“It’s a must for us to build these kinds of partnerships,” Education Department Undersecretary Ted Mitchell told The Wall Street Journal. “Our economy depends on it.”


Employers are getting in on the act as well. General Electric (GE) is teaming with Northeastern University in Boston to offer training programs at one of the company’s jet engine plants, The Journal reports.

The DOE announcement comes on the heels of a Wealth X research firm report indicating a surprising 30% of the world’s billionaires never graduated from college, though the vast majority did receive a bachelor’s degree.

Twenty-two percent of billionaires received a master’s degree in their lifetime and about 13% received an MBA, the report found.

Underemployment for college graduates reached about 44% in 2012, according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.