Thursday, November 15, 2007

Colleges don't like the idea of a tuition "Watch List"

Article comprising whining about the proposal in current federal legislation to put colleges with above-average tuition increases on a "watch list".
I'm not sure that another list, another regulation, is the best way to hold down tuition increases. I think we need to change formulas of federal aid. But it is an incentive in the right direction. And I find some of the reactions to be patently absurd.
Richard Doherty, of this association of private colleges, said,
“The notion that there are efficiencies that colleges are not trying to pursue currently is just a fallacy."
Oh really? Where is the private college in Massachusetts that offers full courses of study online? That offers well-planned three-year bachelor's programs and focuses on graduating students efficiently? That has eliminated all sports to focus on academics? That reviews the performance of all departments each year and cuts those that are underperforming? That has moved to an Oxford all-tutor/independent study model, with faculty offices and dorms, but no classes? That actively rents out its physical plant to the community to make sure that buildings are being used around the clock?

Yes, for-profit schools do some of these things, but the savings go into their pockets. Only when independent and public colleges make some radical changes to focus on efficiency are we going to get somewhere.

12 comments:

markymarc said...

I think we would agree that the main problem for students is debt. What if this proposal actually blocks an excellent debt solution?

In other words, if Congress had focused on the real problem (debt), rather than tuition, maybe they could have worked out the following solution: colleges would set appropriate debt limits for students, and subsidize these limits by raising their tuition prices for wealthy students.

I believe that this would be an appropriate solution. But the current proposal will block any chance of such a solution being implemented.

Anya said...

Raising tuition prices isn't always an option for most institutions. The students with the most debt tend to be middle class students at moderately priced schools with small endowments. Warren Buffet's kid is not going to pay $2 million in tuition to attend a community college to subsidize the other 500 students there. Overall tuition limits are important too.

markymarc said...

I don't think that student debt is a problem at community colleges, so that's not really a fair argument. Anyway, my main point is just that this legislation does not address student debt levels.

But you raise a different point: if Congress implements the List of Shame, schools with ultra-low tuition levels should be exempt from the list.

In general, I get the feeling that Congress does not have a good understanding of "higher ed finance," and a lot of nuance is falling through the cracks.

markymarc said...

Actually, let's go back to your community college example for a second: why wouldn't Warren Buffett's kid pay an extra couple thousand dollars to attend community college, if this price would still be tens of thousands of dollars less than other schools? Especially when community colleges may even offer better education than 4-year schools! (their instructors focus on teaching, rather than research)

Again, this pricing issue is very important, and Congress should open it up to a full debate before enacting any binding legislation. In my humble opinion.

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Kevin said...

It makes no sense that tuitions are not going down rather than up.

You can construct, with the best academics available, a degree program on-line and sell it for
a couple of hunderd dollars.

With the cost of computing and data transmission going down, it is an archaic system that is being preserved.

That's not happening by accident. Real Estate Agencies, Travel Agencies and other intermediaries that formerly rationed access to information have changed.

Why not education.

Vince Shorb said...

It would be great if everyone that wants to get a higher education could afford to do so. And if they graduated without the $20,000+ that the average college graduate leaves school with, all the better.

Lower cost for college would defiantly help people attend school but realistically it will take some time to achieve. Until then we can help young people that want to attend school by teaching them how to get scholarships.

Every year there is a lot of scholarship money that goes unclaimed. And even when the money is claimed, sometimes the scholarship committees settle on someone that isn’t a perfect match for the scholarship. So there is lots of opportunity for young adults to get money for school.

An immediate solution would be to educate high school juniors and seniors on scholarships. Many students incorrectly think you need to have a 4.0 and be captain of the football team to win awards. It is important they understand there are awards given based on many different qualities: community service, extra-curricular activities, leadership, hobbies, future goals, how the award will help you, majors, political views and of course GPA and athletics. Just knowing this will open up doors that many people thought were shut on them.

Once they believe they can win scholarship awards, then they are encouraged to begin to apply for scholarships. There are simple techniques they can implement to increase their chances of locating and receiving scholarships.

While we wait for change lets teach students to fish and they can find their way into college.

Vince Shorb author ‘Financially Free by 30’ home study course.

Anonymous said...

Higher Ed is no different than any other institutional organization. The main purpose of the org is to perpetuate itself, maintaining its powerbase and financial base and growing it when possible. Thus, like for any other institution, change is a four-letter word. The high costs and resultant debt will eventually thrust higher ed into the Internet age, where cost competition becomes a reality. Customers will someday balk at the high costs, and the institutions will race to zap unproductive programs and positions. And, what is being done with the huge endowments among US universities? What is the value besides patronizing the donors? Why is it fiduciarily appropriate to gamble with those funds, garnering cover stories at Fortune and Forbes? Earn mid-high single digit year in and year out and make college more affordable without calling Sallie Mae. The administration of most colleges today offer a good tell of our deteriorating fabric.

Anonymous said...

Criticism of this journalist by some contributors is unfair and ignorant. Her work is researched and clearly presented, regardless of her inexperience. The issues she presents are real and the quality of life for a generation or more depends upon how urgently her peers treat these problems. Money is the currency of our character and our acquisition and use of it reflects upon our self-image. Boomers grew up without insecurity and thus with a destructive sense of entitlement. So their kids have it even worse, and are sucked into poor homeownership choices and other spending mistakes. And the Helicopter story is a poignant example of how Boomers are stunting the growth of their kids by rescuing them from their poor choices. Character is built by trial and consequences, and parents are cheating their college and adult kids out of crucial learning experiences. For an excellent Biblical take on finances, check out Crown Ministries, out of Atlanta, I think. Crownministries.org. Dave Ramsey of Nashville is a good lower-impact financial counselor, too. These groups offer worthwhile perspectives on GenDebt and its parents.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Kamenetz, you write with maturity beyond your years, so you must be internalizing much of the counsel you are collecting during your research. Your idealism is OK as long as it doesn't extend to the idea of victimization of GenDebt or otherwise relieve young people of the responsibility for their plights. We are accountable for what happens to us to the largest extent. Its not up to Congress to keep us out of debt. Debt is our choice for most things, particularly non-healthcare issues. If you can preach that message in all your engagements, perhaps you can have a significant impact on your peers. With your talent and resume at a young age, I'd think your audience -your peers- will listen to you. Godspeed.

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