New Traditional Students: Who Are They and How Do We Help Them Succeed?

by | Aug 5, 2021 | Paying for College, Planning for College

When you think about the typical college student, who would you say they are in 2021? 

Maybe an 18-year-old, straight out of high school, and studying on campus full time? It’s what we know the traditional student to be.

But believe it or not, they’re no longer the majority of students. Today, 75% of college students are “new-traditional.” 

What does that mean? They have one or more of these characteristics: 

  • 25 or older
  • First-generation college student
  • Working full time while in school
  • Attending school only part-time or fully online
  • Have children of their own
  • Carry a much heavier debt load

These “new-traditional” students face unique challenges. And that’s why we threw the first-ever Inversant Game Show Extravaganza. As an organization, we brought the community together to raise awareness around this ever-growing group of students.

Along the way, we sought to raise $40,000. This was all to bash barriers for new-traditional students that now make up our majority. Our goal is to give students that didn’t go to college right after graduating high school a fighting chance.

And with your support, we did exactly that!

Who Are New-Traditional Students in 2021?

We know that new-traditional students are 24 years or older, financially independent from their parents, and likely working 20 or more hours per week. 

We also know that within this changing college landscape, new-traditional students are grossly under-supported. Many face challenges that traditional students never face.

Everything from financial issues to raising children of their own while attending school become hurdles on the road to a degree.

During our Game Show Extravaganza, we shed light on those barriers and how we’re working as an organization to tear those barriers down.

What Are the Barriers New-Traditional Students Face?

Many adults choose to go back to school to eventually qualify for higher-paying job opportunities.  While in theory, it sounds promising, the path from where they are to where they want to be can be expensive. 

One of the most significant barriers for new-traditional students is financial. From housing to child care, the high cost of education produces dramatically different learning opportunities for adult learners. 

The amount of unmet financial aid for new-traditional students is $17,122.  This is nearly TWICE the amount of unmet need for Traditional students. That’s a substantial gap that’s not covered.

With high tuition costs and tons of hidden fees, most students rely on financial aid to finance their degrees. But of course, financial aid doesn’t always cover everything.   

According to a recent report out of the University of Pennsylvania, the average amount of unmet need for traditional students is nine-thousand and fifty-two dollars. 

Another challenge for new-traditional students is debt. Students have options for covering the high cost of college, and one of those options is student loans. 

For federal student loans, there are borrowing limits so that students can only take on so much debt. But, students often take on more debt by getting private loans. 

If they stick to federal loans, for traditional, undergraduate students – what you probably think of as the typical 18-year-old student – the total borrowing limit is $31,000.

But for new- traditional, that figure is $57,500 putting them at a much higher risk for default.

How Inversant (And YOU!) Can Help

The modern college student has a lot to navigate, and as a community, we can do better to make it possible for them to enter, continue and succeed at college.  

As an organization that has historically served parents of students, many of which went on to go back to school themselves, Inversant is uniquely poised to serve new-traditional students on their journey.

On July 22, we held our first fundraising event of the season, and what an event it was.  Contestants gathered on Facebook Live and YouTube Live to play an old-school-themed game show.  

Our hosts were Inversant’s very own odd couple Bob Hildreth, founder, and Heidi Hancock, CEO. Our Game Night Extravaganza started promptly at 6:05 PM.  The energy was high and excitement was buzzing in the air. 

The event kicked off with the first group game of the Price is Right. Our group of contestants each took turns guessing the yearly tuition for local Massachusetts colleges. 

In Game 2 contestants took turns one by one answering a series of multiple-choice questions.  Each question tested their knowledge of the true price tag of college.  

Game 3 brought our Game Night Extravaganza to a close when one lucky contestant took her chances in our “Name That Game Show Tune.” 

The night was fun and full of laughter, banter, and most importantly the realization of how important it is to support Adult Learners through their college process.  

Thank You for Your Generous Support

Thanks to our incredible sponsor Acadian Asset Management and our amazing donors we were able to raise over $40,000 for programming and scholarships to help support new-traditional Students!  

To watch the recap of our Game Show Extravaganza click check out our YouTube replay below.

To learn more about Inversant and how you can support our mission, read about our latest Scholarship, designed to help low-to-moderate income families in the Boston area make their college dreams come true.

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