Author: Andrew Gillen

Andrew Gillen is a Senior Policy Analyst at The Texas Public Policy Foundation.

A Better Way to Solve the Student Loan Crisis

Skin in the game for student loans, the idea that colleges should face financial consequence when their students default, is gaining momentum in policy discussions. After all, when students take out loans, the colleges get all their money upfront, leaving taxpayers holding the bag when students default on the loan payments years later. It seems […]

Read More
Student loan debt

Here’s Why Tuition Keeps Rising

Ice cream cake has a disturbingly short lifespan in my home. When one is nearby, I ruthlessly hunt it down and devour it. Some days, when I have biked to work or gone for a run, I easily convince myself that I deserve cake as a reward. But exercise does not cause my cake-eating. It […]

Read More

Default on Student Loans? Bad Idea

Writing in The New York Times, Lee Siegel encourages students to follow his example and default on their student loans. The four biggest problems with his piece are: Siegel is the wrong case study Even if you are of the opinion that college should be free and student debt is immoral, Siegel is the wrong […]

Read More

Defending Income-Contingent Student Loans

Last week George Leef argued that my recent case for income contingent lending (ICL), a type of student loan where the monthly payment is a function of the student’s income, was off base. One of his main points was that if ICL is such a good idea, “Why do we not find “income-contingent” lending in […]

Read More

Let’s Tie Our Hands on Student Loans

Odysseus, in Homer’s Odyssey, orders himself tied to the mast of his ship so he can hear the beautiful song of the Sirens without risking the usual gruesome fate of those who sail too close to the singers. This lesson – if you know you are going to make a bad decision you should tie […]

Read More

The Four Lessons I Learned by Taking a MOOC

Very few people who enroll in MOOCs (massive open online courses) tell us about the experience. I just took one and learned these lessons: Lesson One: Professors need to start phasing out in-class lecturing now. Based on my own experience as a student and as an adjunct professor, the vast majority of professors spend much […]

Read More

What Do Professors Really Think?

From the blog The Quick & the Ed  The Undergraduate Teaching Faculty The 2010-2011 HERI Faculty Survey , a survey of faculty at four-year universities by the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA, contains some interesting findings. Almost a quarter of professors at four-year universities do not consider teaching their “principal activity” (pg 19) The […]

Read More

A Short Reply to Charlotte

Charlotte Allen‘s response to my recent piece on the denial of accreditation for Ashford contains some good material, but some misunderstanding. My piece is not about whether the Ashford decision itself was flawed–I never stated that WASC was wrong to deny Ashford accreditation and flatly stated: “It is certainly possible that Ashford doesn’t deserve accreditation…” […]

Read More

What’s Wrong with Accreditation–A Textbook Case

The world of higher education is abuzz with the news that a for-profit university, Ashford University, whose Iowa campus holds accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, has been denied accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) for its online headquarters. Denial of accreditation for schools that already have […]

Read More

What Cost Shift to College Students and Parents?

A new report from Demos, a policy and advocacy center, titled The Great Cost Shift: How Higher Education Cuts Undermine the Future Middle Class “examines how state disinvestment in public higher education over the past two decades has shifted costs to students and their families.”

Read More

Does Tuition Go Up Because State Funding Goes Down?

Gary Fethke’s recent op-ed Why Does Tuition Go Up? Because Taxpayer Support Goes Down in The Chronicle of Higher Education is an enjoyable read. Rather than dismiss the opposing side’s argument with straw men, as is so common these days, Fethke presents it faithfully and gives it due consideration, which is a breath of fresh […]

Read More

Yes, College Professors Can Work Harder

David C. Levy’s Washington Post article, “Do college professors work hard enough?” set off quite the firestorm. His basic point was that we currently “pay for teaching time of nine to fifteen hours per week for 30 weeks,” but that If the higher education community were to adjust its schedules and semester structure so that […]

Read More

The Tuition Story That Never Dies

Some commentaries on higher education appear year after year, almost unchanged. One of these hardy perennials is the story that tuition and fees don’t come close to paying for the actual cost of educating college students. In his popular book, The Economic Naturalist, Cornell University economist Robert Frank claims that tuition payments cover only a […]

Read More

The Student Loan Debacle–What a Mess

Until recently, much talk about student loans was fact-free: There simply weren’t publicly available figures worth paying attention to. The official balance of student loans from the NY Fed were unreliable: There was a bucket of random obligations called “Miscellaneous”, which included things like utility bills, child support, and alimony. And it turns out that […]

Read More

A Simple Solution to a Big College Problem–SURs

What is the college graduation rate in this country? Correct answer: nobody knows. All the statistics you’ve read about are at best partial truths. We basically track graduation only for “traditional” students. The problem is that these “traditional” students are no longer representative – most college students are now “non-traditional”: 38 percent of students enroll […]

Read More

A Response to Peter Sacks

I’d like to respond to Peter Sacks’ critique of my new study. Something that I think is lacking from Sacks’ critique is any sort of acknowledgement of what the paper is about. So, for those that haven’t read it yet, here is the basic story of my report…

Read More

The IBR Student Loan Repayment Scheme is a Disaster

The Income Based Repayment (IBR) program, which took effect in 2009, is designed to lighten the student-loan burden for some students. The basic idea is to limit monthly payments to less than 15% of disposable income. If a student makes these payments for 25 years, any remaining balance is forgiven, meaning that taxpayers essentially pay […]

Read More

Can We Measure the Value of College Teaching?

By Robert Martin and Andrew Gillen A popular notion within the academy is that teaching quality cannot be measured, but this is an article of faith, not a demonstrated fact. Very few institutions have made a systematic effort to measure teaching quality, largely because the faculty is opposed to it and administrators have little incentive […]

Read More

College Is Cheaper Than in the Mid-1990s? No Way

By Andrew Gillen and Robert Martin The annual release of Trends in Student Aid and Trends in College Pricing are big news in the higher education world, and rightly so. Since Department of Education data often take a year or two to become available, these reports provide the earliest and most comprehensive preliminary look at […]

Read More

Accreditation: Are the Inmates Running the Asylum?

On paper, accreditation is an amazing system. Among other things, it simultaneously advises colleges on how to improve, enforces a minimum level of quality, provides needed information to policy makers, and protects colleges from government intrusion. It does all this with only a few hundred employees, and a few thousand volunteers. Indeed if accreditation actually […]

Read More

The Amazing College Debt Bubble
Teaching One Student Costs Only $1,456 A Year?

News that student loan debt, at $830 billion, exceeded credit card debt for the first time has sparked renewed interest in the financing of college and its implications for students. Largely ignored in the discussion, however, is the shadow debt, which consists of unorthodox methods of borrowing for college, including home equity loans and lines […]

Read More