budget

Universities Are Vocational Schools

Why do students go to college? A new poll has a one-word answer: money. That’s one of the findings in a broad Gallup survey of college admissions officers done for Inside Higher Ed. The admissions officers seem to believe that those planning to attend college view it largely as a signaling device that directs the best […]

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Three Pell Grant Scams

Many politicians, including senators such as Tom Harkin and Dick Durbin, have grown indignant over the allegedly vast amounts of higher education money captured by for-profit institutions via the Pell Grant program. In fact, they consider this something of a scam. The truth, of course, is that throughout its history, including now, the vast majority […]

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Some Hope for Higher Ed Reform

The current conversation on higher ed reform coming is unusually platitudinous even for an election year. This was clearest earlier this year during the battle between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on the proposed federal student loan interest rate, a subject fairly inconsequential in larger problem of sky-high college costs. In his Democratic nomination acceptance […]

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Wesleyan Abandons Need-Blind Admissions

The vast majority of American colleges and universities make admission decisions without considering the financial need of applicants. Only a handful of private institutions admit their entire first-year class need-blind and then fully meet the financial need of all of their admitted students through a combination of grants, loans and employment opportunities. These institutions tend […]

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Why President Obama Can’t Lower Tuition

In his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention last night, President Obama promised that he would “work with colleges and universities” to slow the steady rise in tuition we have experienced, cutting the rate of increase in half. Inside Higher Ed has the story. Naturally, the president’s statement drew applause from the Democratic faithful, […]

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The California College System under Scrutiny

A recent report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), entitled “Best Laid Plans: The Unfulfilled Promise of Public Higher Education,” explores a fair number of problems the California college system faces. However, I don’t think it covers them all. The report states openly and rightly the problems that California’s public colleges face […]

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The Problem with Bonuses for Masters Degrees

Carol Howley, a nursing instructor at Chicago’s Richard J. Daley College, pocketed $307,000 in extra salary over the years by enrolling in doctoral classes at Chicago’s Rush University and receiving her doctorate. There’s only one problem, though: Rush has no record of Howley’s attendence. Cook County prosecutors recently indicted her for theft of government property. […]

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Student Voices
Ryan’s Plan is Good for Higher Ed

Now that Paul Ryan has joined the Republican ticket, it’s worth considering how his much-discussed budget changes higher education. Ryan wants to cap the maximum amount of Pell Grant awards at the current level of $5,550, eliminating the automatic increase according to inflation. Ryan would also shore up the eligibility requirements, adding a maximum income […]

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Elite College ($50,000 a Year) or Good State School ($20,000)?

The new Sallie Mae-Gallup survey of attitudes toward higher education, “How America Pays for College 2012,” shows that Americans are becoming increasingly resistant to rising college prices. Some people who were saying “I want the best college money can buy” a few years ago, are now saying “We aren’t going to pay sky-high tuition when […]

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The 12 Reasons College Costs Keep Rising

When asked the question, “Why do colleges keep raising tuition fees?” I give answers ranging from three words (“because they can”), to 85,000 (my book, Going Broke By Degree). Avoiding both extremes, let’s evaluate two rival explanations for the college cost explosion, followed by 12 key expressions that add more detail.

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Cheaper Student Loans–A Bad Idea Whose Time Has Come

When Victor Hugo claimed that all the world’s armies are powerless against an idea whose time has come, he probably had in mind good ideas. But the time can come for a bad idea also. Low-cost student loans, embraced by President Obama, Governor Romney, and Congressional leaders of both parties, is a bad idea. Students […]

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The Hidden Cost of University 2.0

We have entered a new digital era that appears to have made the traditional trappings of higher education–e.g., fixed curricula, going to lectures, even physically attending a college or university–about as necessary to getting a college degree as the telegraph is for sending messages. Out with hierarchy, structure, and the top-down approach to higher education. […]

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The Loan Defaults Are Coming–Here’s What to Do

No modern-day Paul Revere is taking a midnight ride to warn about this, but the defaults are coming. Many are already here. They are coming from student loans given to the wrong students for the wrong reasons. The portfolio of federally guaranteed student loans passed the one trillion dollar mark in early 2012, and it […]

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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 […]

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Why They Seem to Rise Together:
Federal Aid and College Tuition

It’s called “the Bennett Hypothesis,” and it explains–or tries to explain–why the cost of college lies so tantalizingly out of reach for so many. In 1987, then Secretary of Education William J. Bennett launched a quarter century of debate by saying, in effect, “Federal aid doesn’t help; colleges and universities just cream off the extra […]

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College Budget Cuts: How Course Corrections Can Undermine Students

Governor Scott of Florida has decided to save taxpayers’ money by developing a way to ensure that people who study under state auspices in Florida do so in programs that will secure jobs. The way to do this, he says, is to stop training students to get degrees in subjects such as psychology and anthropology–especially […]

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Faculty Bewildered as Administrators Siphon Off Money

“Inside Higher Ed” reports that Dartmouth College, facing a $100 million budget gap, is taking more funds from endowed chairs and endowed programs to help pay for administrative costs, alarming faculty, some of whom think the move is unethical. Here is a first reaction to this news: we still think faculty run our institutions, but […]

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The Financial Pressure on Faculty

The report entitled “What’s It Worth? The Economic Value of College Majors” is an important study that adds to the growing data base on the outcome of a college education.  It’s a product of Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce, and is authored by Anthony Carnevale, Jeff Strohl, and Michelle Melton. The study collects data […]

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Gainful Employment: A Detriment to Competition

Today the Obama Administration unveiled its long-anticipated and highly controversial final gainful employment (GE) regulation  that ties program eligibility for federal student aid to new metrics that are based on student loan repayment rates. Under the new GE rule, a vocational program can qualify as leading to gainful employment and remain eligible for federal aid […]

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Is “Productivity” a Dirty Word on Campus?

If the 80 percent of faculty at the University of Texas-Austin with the lowest teaching loads were pushed to teach just half as much as the 20 percent of faculty who do most of the teaching, tuition could be cut by more than half. That’s the stark conclusion of a preliminary report from the Center for College […]

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A Coddled Professor Speaks Out

A good deal of outraged reaction greeted “Fat City: Thank You, Illinois Taxpayers, for My Cushy Life,”  an article posted on the Weekly Standard’s website on Friday by David Rubinstein, a recently retired (after 34 years) sociology professor at the publicly funded University of Illinois-Chicago.  The article was a hoot and a half.  Rubinstein chronicled in detail the […]

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Helping SUNY’s Flagships

Governor Andrew Cuomo proposes giving the four SUNY research universities (Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo and Stony Brook) $140 million in economic development funds and – perhaps, if the legislature agrees – permission to levy higher tuition.  The governor is right in viewing SUNY campuses, and especially its most senior ones, as economic engines; indeed, outside of […]

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No Comeback for the Humanities

Here is a story from the Baton Rouge Advocate that confirms the decline of the humanities in the state system (although cuts struck deep into the sciences and education as well).  Officials reviewed hundreds of programs in state colleges and universities, judging them by, among other things, the number of students they graduated each year.  […]

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Why Do the Big Donors Give?

From reading news stories about multimillion-dollar gifts to universities, it’s easy to get the impression that the donors are mostly rich people with pronounced ideological agendas–or else they wouldn’t open their wallets so readily. In April 2010, for example, the billionaire-financier George Soros, known for his funding of progressive causes and his efforts to defeat George […]

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Should University Flagships Go It Alone?

Overshadowed by the big political confrontation in Wisconsin is a higher-education story of note: The highly regarded “flagship” Madison campus of the University of Wisconsin seeks permission to secede from the rest of the state public higher education system (yet remain under the state’s oversight and subsidization).  While this is being justified now by the […]

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