Colleges’ new test

Written By kom nampuldu on Minggu, 12 April 2015 | 18.18

The glimmers of change in US higher education are starting to pile up. This could — should — be the start of a tidal wave of reform so that colleges and universities finally start delivering reliable value at a reasonable price.

College now costs too much, even as far too many kids graduate (or don't) without the skills to get a good job.

The sheep are starting to wake up — total enrollment slid 1.3 percent to 19.6 million in fall 2014, the third straight year of decline, with two-year schools leading the drop.

Early signs on 2014-15 enrollment point to the trend continuing, says Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.

It's far worse in spots. Enrollment is down by 1,000 at SUNY's University at Albany — more than 5 percent over eight years. President Robert Jones calls it the school's most "significant financial threat."

But signs of the crisis are here in the city, too. There was New York University's recent request that employees donate to help students cover yearly bills of roughly $70,000.

On the other side, Cooper Union — founded on the principle of being tuition-free — has started charging tuition.

Worse, it floated (and pulled) the idea of charging more to students who took extra classes. The school failed to manage its money to honor the beliefs of its founder; instead, it's looking to build bigger — and be unique . . . how?

Private colleges, Vedder says, aren't seeing as serious an enrollment challenge as public ones are. But even there, many are finding they have to adapt.

Stanford just offered free tuition to families earning under $125,000, and also free room and board to those under $65,000.

Other schools are cutting prices for all students, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel reports for The Washington Post.

Nearly a dozen small and medium private universities are slashing tuition in efforts to reverse sliding numbers. Southern Virginia University cut tuition and fees 23 percent; Converse College in South Carolina, 43 percent.

Part of that, she notes, is simply doing away with colleges' too-routine practice of charging a hefty sticker price, then handing discounts ("scholarships") to most comers.

But more-honest pricing is still progress in the higher-education sector — which has gotten by with its scams for long enough.


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