Editor's Note (The View From Here)

Here's to a Great New Year!

Education was a hotly debated topic in 2015 and the heat will be turned up in 2016, a presidential election year. There is no question that education improvements and reform will be on the agenda of every candidate, as it has been in every election year. Adequate funding for schools will continue to be on everyone’s mind, with ongoing discussions on how to fund our public K–12 schools and universities.

The good news is that progress is already being made. Growing public support for education was evident in the fall election results based on the number of bond overrides on the ballots that passed, even in districts where there was a history of failure.

Businesses have also stepped up. Companies, recognizing the value of education, are actively encouraging their employees to take advantage of tuition reimbursement programs. In a first-of-its-kind collaboration with Arizona State University (ASU), Starbucks is offering all part- and full-time benefits-eligible U.S. partners (employees) full tuition coverage for every year of college to earn a bachelor’s degree. Partners receive support from a dedicated team of coaches and advisors, 24/7 tutoring on a variety of subjects, and a choice of more than 50 undergraduate degrees through ASU’s research-driven and top-ranked program, delivered online. The McDonald’s National Employee Scholarship Program is another program that recognizes and rewards the accomplishments of McDonald’s student-employees who excel in their studies, serve their communities and work hard to deliver an outstanding customer experience.

A source of funding that I would have never imagined five years ago is crowdfunding. By tapping into the power of social networks, alumni and community have been engaged, and new donors have been won. Schools are finding funding for creative projects. Teams are seeking funds for everything from band instruments, to new uniforms and sports equipment. Individuals are seeking dollars to help pay for their college tuition and fees. Granted, crowdfunding is not likely to fill the gap left by budget cuts, but it may save a program or two.

With U.S. economic forecasts calling for stronger growth in 2016 and beyond, and with businesses, parents and the public increasing their support of education… 2016 is shaping up to be a good year. Wishing you the best!

This article originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of College Planning & Management.

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