New Study Examines the Cost Curve for Competency-Based Programs

ECONOMIES OF SCALE: Higher-ed institutions pursuing competency-based education should be patient when waiting to see a return on their investment in these programs, according to a study conducted by rpk Group and funded by the Lumina Foundation. The report looked at four with established CBE programs: Wisconsin Extension, the Kentucky Community & Technical College System, Brandman University and Walden University.

The “break-even” point for these programs—when annual per-student revenues exceed expenditures—happens in the fifth year, the research finds. But there’s a catch: the 5-year road to profitability requires aggressive enrollment growth of 150 percent annually. Rpk Group’s Rick Staisloff tells Inside Higher Ed that colleges considering CBE should “Get smart about it and get ready.”

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