The Landscape of Competency-Based Education: Enrollments, Demographics, and Affordability

Competency-based education (CBE), in which credit is provided on the basis of student learning rather than credit or clock hours, is starting to gain traction with educators and policymakers. CBE programs are often touted as a far more affordable route to college credit and a degree, but these claims often fail to account for assessment fees, differences in financial aid eligibility, and opportunity costs of time. CBE programs are often touted as a far more affordable route to college credit and a degree. If the price per credit between traditional and -competency-based models is similar, then CBE programs could save students money if they are able to progress through coursework more quickly. Additionally, “all you can eat” pricing, in which students pay for a set period of time and can earn as many credits as they want during that period, may allow students to drive the price per credit down by taking more credits.

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