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Today, non-degree certificates are the fastest growing postsecondary credential in the country, and despite their proven trackrecord preparing students for jobs, there is a derth of financial aid. For example, people enrolled in child development certification programs have a much harder time finding financial aid than students enrolled traditional degree programs.
The New York Times forecasts that 18 out of 20 of the fastest-growing occupations in the nation will not require bachelor’s degrees. Economists note that certificates are often better options for students because they translate more quickly to jobs than traditional degrees. They also say certificates are better for the country because they would make the US more competitive in the global economy. According to a study from Georgetown’s Public Policy Institute, students with non-degree certificates in computer and information services earn more money than the majority of men and women with associate and bachelor degrees.
Still, there are few financial aid opportunities to help students earn certificates. A $4000 price tag on an information technology certificate can prevent perspective students from enrolling. Scholars question if it makes economic sense for the nation to subsidize studying Shakespeare and not childcare. For students borrowing from friends to pay for their certificates, this opportunity gap seems unfair.