THE NEWS QUARTERLY FOR HIGHER EDUCATION TRUSTEES
VOL. 2, NO. 1 WINTER 2017
T O P S T O R I E S... Betsy wins by a Pence… The new civics… Reshaping education with e pluribus unum… Liberal arts: the new utilitarianism… Cracking down on “boys-will-be-boys” talk… Million-dollar presidents and other migraines for trustees… “Keep the Damned Women Out”: a history… And more…
P U R P O S E | The New Civics: Hell, No, We Won’t Go History is out, protests
are in MORE 1
Our Higher Ed “Echo Chambers” Diversity of
color but not of thought MORE 2
Censorship: Threats to Press Freedom Collateral damage in the free speech
wars MORE 3
Sticks and Stones─and Words? A new free speech program at Purdue MORE 4
Liberal Arts: The New Utilitarianism Start with “Scholars Behind Bars” MORE 5
Is a Diverse Campus Attainable? Michael Bloomberg must think so MORE 6
Is a Diverse Campus Advisable? Two scholars reexamine Robert Putnam’s doubts MORE 7
G o v e r n a n c e | “Keep the Damned Women Out” A new book examines how the Ivy League went co-ed MORE 8
Collaborating for Success Go to the National Conference on Trusteeship to find out how MORE 9
Million-Dollar Presidents, Whistle Blowers, Sex Scandals And other migraines for trustees MORE 10
Columbia Grad Students Join the UAW What’s next? A Ford Motor plant at Princeton? MORE 11
Some Endowments Yield More Than Others And Harvard, with $35 billion, isn’t happy with returns of 5.7% MORE 12
A Tenure Threat in the Midwest As college tenure numbers fall, two states may
pile on MORE 13
Cracking Down on “Boys-Will-Be-Boys” Talk Princeton, Harvard, Columbia, Amherst shut down sports programs MORE 14
A Rose by Another Name Is “Hopper” John C. Calhoun is out. Is Elihu Yale next? MORE 15
Public Trust | Will Texas Forfeit Millions to Uphold Anti-LGBT Law? The Lone Star state may join the Tar Heel State with a controversial “bathroom bill” of its own 16
Self-Policing May Be Just One of the Problems With Accreditation Agencies
Two-thirds of accreditors work for colleges they regulate MORE 17
Will Trump Ed Roll Back Title IX Enforcement? Plenty of groups are working to make sure it won’t be easy MORE 18
Baylor: A Cautionary Tale One-time celebrity prosecutor
Kenneth Starr takes an unceremonious fall from Baptist grace MORE 19
College Sports: More Than Head Trauma and Rape
The NCAA is trying to remind colleges that it does care about academics and health MORE 20
Emergent Orders | Our Disappearing Rural and Private Colleges Foreseeing 15 closures a year MORE 21
Reshaping Public Education A new book with advice from our past: e pluribus unum MORE 22
Technology Trends of the Year The pace is accelerating MORE 23
Secretary Betsy Wins by a Pence She was the “most questioned education secretary in the history of the Senate.” MORE 24
Trump’s January Surprise—Jerry Falwell Jr. He leads the largest Christian college in the country; now he’s head of a White House task force to deregulate higher ed MORE 25
Obama Ed Leaves DeVos With a Fine Mess A cool
$108 billion in debt forgiveness for starters MORE 26
No Such Thing as a Free Lunch—or Free Tuition
New York’s Andrew Cuomo may force the issue: what free tuition costs MORE 27
1 The New Civics: Hell, No, We Won’t Go A report by the National Association of Scholars concludes that traditional college civics courses aimed at understanding the basics of American history and government have been replaced by “courses teaching students how to organize protests, occupy buildings and stage demonstrations.” Of the universities in the West—Colorado State University, the University of Northern Colorado, the University of Wyoming, and the University of Colorado Boulder─only UW requires all students to take a course in civics.
2 Our Higher Ed “Echo Chambers” The college speaking tour of Breitbart News provocateur Milos Yiannopoulos may have ended in flames at Berkeley in early February (prompting a threat from President Trump to cut off federal funds to the college where the free speech movement was born), but the violence at Berkeley has prompted a new debate about ideological diversity at the nation’s universities. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof worries that colleges have become “echo chambers” at which “‘it’s OK if people don’t look like you, but they’ve got to think like you.” Mark Lilla, professor of humanities at Columbia, believes that the diversity movement focuses too much on identity, which veers into an unhealthy form of narcissism. A Harvard Crimson editorial complains of the 380-year-old college’s “ideological uniformity” (i.e. it’s “liberal bastion”). And José A. Cabranes, judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and former university trustee, says civility in discourse is to be pursued, but that doesn’t mean that “uncivil” speech makes campuses “unsafe.” And here’s the kicker: a survey by a Sarah Lawrence political science professor found that the ratio of liberal to conservative professors in the South and Great Plains is 3-1; in the West, 6-1; and in New England, 28-1.
3 Threats to College Press Freedom Perhaps as a result of pressure by students to censor uncomfortable speech, universities are exerting pressure to control, edit, and/or censor student-run media, according to a new report by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and three free-speech advocacy organizations. This pressure is coming from “every segment of higher education and every institutional type: public and private, four-year and two-year, religious and secular,” says the AAUP. Recently, the University of Kentucky sued its own newspaper—and won—with a judge ruling that the school does not have to release documents about a sexual assault case involving a former professor. And in more surprising news, many college students—roughly a quarter of Democrats, independents and Republicans alike—say they are amenable to restrictions on freedom of speech and of the press under certain circumstances.
4 Sticks and Stones—and Words? While students at other universities sat through diversity and sensitivity training, Purdue kicked off its fall orientation with a “first of its kind in the nation” free speech program. More than 6,000 incoming students voluntarily attended the four-day event, which included a faculty panel discussion as well as video clips and skits of scenarios that students might encounter on campus—e.g., handling objectionable symbols in residence halls and protesting an invited speaker. The program, created under the direction of President Mitch Daniels, the former Republican governor, will be showcased at an upcoming Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) conference. Studies are beginning to show that students who are not exposed to new or unconventional ideas are left intellectually stunted.
5 Liberal Arts: The New Utilitarianism There is little doubt that the liberal arts have always had to work hard for a place at the table of the utilitarian streak in American education. But few stories capture the new resurgence of favoring liberal arts as well as “Scholars Behind Bars,” a report in the New York Review of Books that describes the college programs for prisoners run by Bard College, the famously liberal Hudson Valley enclave run by the Renaissance scholar and autodidact Leon Botstein. But you don’t have to be in prison to appreciate the usefulness of the humanities. Carol Quillen, president of North Carolina’s Davidson College, for instance, talks of “reimagining the liberal arts” to include “broadly transferable skills” like communicating, decision-making, data analysis, work ethic, and integrity. And Donna Orem, president of the National Association of Independent Schools wants to add the arts to STEM (science, technology, engineering, math): STEAM. She quotes a study that says students majoring in liberal arts often do better with critical thinking, reasoning, and writing. Better yet, argues Hillsdale College journalism professor John Miller, “the best fix for today’s students” is “old-fashioned cultural literacy, as transmitted by the liberal arts,” including the great books, “starting with the Bible itself,” says Miller, “and working through everyone from Augustine to Maimonides to C.S. Lewis.” Who says such great books qualities of mind couldn’t fit with John Henry Newman’s idea of a university as a place to teach foresight, insight, and charity?
6 Is a Diverse Campus Attainable? Whether one defines it by race or income, studies show campus diversity to be an elusive goal. The advocacy group Young Invincibles reports that more blacks and Hispanics graduate college now than in 2007, but the percentage of whites who graduate is 13.6 percent and 24.3 percent higher, respectively, than that of their African-American and Hispanic counterparts. Further, during this same period, states cut public higher ed funding by some 21 percent and raised tuition by 28 percent, making attendance even harder for low-income minority students. Highlighting the disparity, a study from the Equality of Opportunity Project shows that 38 U.S. colleges have more students from the top one percent of the income scale than from the bottom 60 percent. Attempting to boost economic diversity is billionaire Michael Bloomberg, whose new American Talent Initiative wants to enroll an additional 50,000 high-achieving low-income students into colleges with high graduation rates by 2025.
7 Is a Diverse Campus Advisable? This is the question Daisy Grewal raises in a recent Scientific American story, “Does Diversity Create Distrust?” Citing the work of sociologists Maria Abascal of Princeton and Delia Baldassarri of New York University, “Love Thy Neighbor? Ethnoracial Diversity and Trust Reexamined,” she takes on Robert Putnam’s famous “distrust” theory of why diversity doesn’t work. Author of the best-selling Bowling Alone (2000), Putnam had argued in a 2007 paper that diversity may be a good idea in the long term, but in the short run it tends “to reduce social solidarity and social capital…. Trust (even of one's own race) is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friends fewer.” The challenge for many institutions and organizations is determining when the short term ends and the long term begins and thus, given the initial drawbacks, the reluctance to initiate diversity programs. Abascal and Baldassarri, however, point in a different direction when they conclude that “only whites report lower levels of trust when they live among out-group members” and so Putnam’s distrust theories are an “only for whites” problem. Commenting on their research, Grewal concludes, “Past community research on racially mixed neighborhoods shows how Whites often appreciate and esteem diversity in the abstract while geographically distancing themselves from non-Whites.”
8 “Keep The Damned Women Out” Paideia Times reported in its Spring 2016 issue that, as a way of discouraging Harvard’s single-sex “final clubs,” both male and female student members would be prohibited from holding leadership positions on campus and barred from receiving official recommendations for postgraduate fellowships if the clubs weren’t integrated by the fall of 2017. There has been some pushback from students, alumni, and faculty, but there is lots of time before the deadline, which should give the college’s trustees and administrators time to read the new book by Nancy Weiss Malkiel, “Keep the Damned Women Out.” The book is, according to a Wall Street Journal review, “a highly informative ‘study in institutional decision-making’”; specifically, how eight elite New England colleges (including Harvard) resisted coeducation for years, then, suddenly it seemed, between 1969 and 1974, gave in.
9 Collaborating for Success “Don’t fail to pay attention to the future—even when things are good,” says former Elizabethtown (Pennsylvania) College president Ted Long in a short video posted on the website of the Association of Governing Boards (AGB). And bringing a school board in on the process of navigating the future often marks an exceptional leader, says Artis Hampshire-Cowan, AGB senior fellow and former vice president and secretary of the board of Howard University. Hampshire-Cowan stresses that “boards and presidents must work collaboratively … to establish the institution’s highest priorities.” The AGB National Conference on Trusteeship is scheduled April 2–4, 2017, in Dallas.
10 Million-Dollar Presidents, Whistle Blowers, and Sex Scandals: Migraines for Trustees Thirty-nine presidents of private colleges across the country were members of the “millionaire’s club” in 2014, up from 32 the year before; and eight were paid more than $2 million. But winding up on the million-dollar club list could be the least of a college trustee’s worries. Consider the case of Wallace Hall, a member of the Texas Board of Regents—who decided to become a whistle-blower. It has not been fun turning up dirt on one’s colleagues, but Hall is persevering. Then, of course, there’s Baylor, the 172-year-old private Baptist college in Waco, Texas, whose trustees had to face an uprising of alumni, donors, and supporters over a football sex scandal (see “Baylor: A Cautonary Tale” below). Thus the need to read Ashley Berner’s Pluralism and American Public Education: No One Way to School (see “Reshaping Public Education,” #22 below), William Massy’s Reengineering the University, a book his publisher describes as “address[ing] widespread concerns that higher education’s costs are too high, learning falls short of objectives, disruptive technology and education models are mounting serious challenges to traditional institutions, and administrators and faculty are too often unwilling or unable to change,” and “Keep the Damned Women Out” (“Keep The Damned Women Out,” above). At least, that would be a good start.
11 Columbia Grad Students Join the UAW In a big win for TAs and RAs (teacher and research assistants) everywhere, Columbia University graduate students voted in December, by a margin of more than two to one, to join the United Auto Workers union. The widely-watched case came in the wake of the National Labor Relations Board’s August ruling that private universities must treat graduate student workers as employees. The NLRB’s ruling has galvanized labor organizers at private institutions across the country, including Harvard, Yale, and Duke. University administrators, however, fear the trend will cost schools millions of dollars in increased pay.
12 Some Endowments Yield More Than Others Despite its $35 billion endowment portfolio, the richest in the country, Harvard’s new chief investment officer, N. P. “Narv” Narvekar isn’t happy with having the worst 10-year annualized returns in the Ivy League (5.7 percent). He’s laying off half the staff at Harvard Management Co. and farming out more investments (see “Yale Beats Harvard,” Paideia Times, Fall 2016). It’s not clear if Narvekar is a disciple of David Swensen, the Wall Street investor who brought the Yale endowment portfolio from $1 billion in 1985 to $25.4 billion today—the second richest in the nation--but Harvard is hopeful.
13 A Tenure Threat in the Midwest Though only 21 percent of the nation’s higher ed labor force currently has tenure, according to the American Association of University Professors, lawmakers in Iowa and Missouri want to reduce that number, proposing bills to eliminate tenure in their states’ public colleges. The Missouri bill also demands that schools provide employment opportunities, average salaries, and the state of the job market for any given college major. Its sponsor, Rep. Rick Brattin (R), says, “Why do we need a protection like tenure if you’re … educating kids like you’re supposed to be doing for real-world application?” Because, says Ben Trachtenberg, associate professor of law at the University of Missouri, tenure ensures academic freedom, fosters breakthrough research, and allows faculty to share in school governance.
14 Cracking Down on “Boys-Will-Be-Boys” Talk Princeton has become the latest university to suspend one of its sports teams because of allegations about offensive email messages and online postings written by school athletes. The suspensions started in November when Harvard canceled the men’s soccer season because of “scouting reports”—in which team members graded the attractiveness of female recruits. Then Columbia followed suit by suspending its wrestling team over sexually explicit and racist texts. The following month, Amherst suspended its men’s cross-country team and then Princeton canceled the men’s swimming and diving season over vulgar and offensive emails. While some applaud the trend, saying it’s about time that schools got serious about locker room talk, others argue they don’t have the right to police students’ private communications.
15 A Rose by Another Name Is “Hopper” Whether or not to rename Yale’s Calhoun College, named after statesman—and defender of slavery—John C. Calhoun, became such a cause celebre last year that Yale President Peter Salovey established a committee on “principles of renaming” late in 2016 it delivered its report, without mentioning Calhoun. When asked by NPR about the University of Oregon’s renaming criteria—which considers racist, homophobic, and misogynist views of the “name”—Yale dean and principles committee member Jonathan Holloway said, “If you are going to be using the Oregon test against historic [figures],” you must consider the fact that people of that time “did not even know or worry about the experiences or views of women or immigrants or minorities” and that “you're going to fail the test pretty quickly.” Apparently taking the Oregon standard seriously, a separate task force Salovey set up recently issued its recommendation to rename Calhoun College. Eight days later, Salovey agreed, issuing a statement that said, in part, “Calhoun's legacy as a white supremacist and a national leader who passionately promoted slavery as a ‘positive good’ fundamentally conflicts with Yale’s mission and values." It will be renamed: after Grace Murray Hopper, a computer scientist who graduated from Yale with a PhD in math in 1934 and during WW II served with distinction in the U.S. Navy, rising to the rank of rear admiral. The Wall Street Journal editorial board was not impressed, suggesting that, “several campus names are more objectionable than John C. Calhoun—including Elihu Yale.”
16 Will Texas Forfeit Millions to Uphold Anti-LGBT Law? According to the official NCAA calendar the 2018 Final Four basketball tournament will be played in San Antonio─unless the passage of an anti-LGBT law dooms it. Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick wants his Lone Star State to enact a law, similar to what North Carolina’s legislature sanctioned: ordering citizens to use the public bathroom consistent with the sex on their birth certificates. The problem is that the new NC law prompted various entertainers and organizations, such as the NCAA and the NBA, to cancel events in the state, depriving it of lucrative event revenue. While North Carolina’s incoming Democratic governor Roy Cooper would like the bill rescinded, it hasn’t happened yet. The Final Four in 2018 is estimated to bring approximately $234 million into San Antonio and the Texas Association of Business deems the proposed gender bill discriminatory. And University of Texas Austin president Gregory L. Zenves says it’s not even necessary; his campus us has never had an assault in a bathroom. But Stop the Presses! The new attorney general, according to The Wall Street Journal, may pull back from the Obama administration position on the issue.
17 Self-Policing May Be Just One of the Problems With Accreditation Agencies A recent Manhattan Institute analysis of the demise of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACIS) discovered that two-thirds of the accreditors at higher education accreditation agencies worked for the institutions they regulated. This might explain why outgoing education secretary John King removed ACIS’s accreditation, citing inaction on “recruiting abuses” at the now defunct Corinthian Colleges as well as conflicts of interest and inability to stop schools’ “misrepresentations.” But it doesn’t appear to deal with the system’s inherent conflict of interest. As a Brookings Institute report showed, losing accreditation is practically a death sentence for a for-profit college—not a decision you’d want an employee to make.
18 Will Trump Ed Roll Back Title IX Enforcement? Amid fears that the end is near for the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights in Donald Trump’s America, outgoing vice president Joe Biden penned an open letter to the presidents of the nation’s colleges and universities to remind them of their “legal and moral obligation to combat sexual violence.” Groups such as End Rape on Campus launched a #DearBetsy Twitter campaign urging the then education secretary nominee to uphold and protect Title IX policy, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. Republicans had repeatedly accused the Obama administration of overstepping its legal authority in its enforcement of Title IX, arguing that consensual sex is being reconstrued as assault and accused assaulters are being deprived of basic due process protections. (We have an especially rich collection of citations in this story’s Further Reading, below.) A word of warning to Stanford, however, which has been making sexual assault headlines for the last six months (here, here, and here): See “Baylor: A Cautionary Tale” (below). TO THE TOP
19 Baylor: A Cautionary Tale It’s hard to discern the winners from the losers in this case, but Baylor University’s sexual assault scandal represents a cautionary tale for all colleges. The NCAA will not impose sweeping sanctions, as it did with Penn State in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal in 2011, but the venerable Baptist college in Waco, Texas, did receive a one-year warning from its regional accrediting agency and faces a narrower NCAA probe for a series of sexual assault cases involving its football team. More dramatic repercussions were the dismissal of head coach Art Briles and demotion of university president Kenneth Starr, who later resigned after an external investigation cited a litany of failures in his response to multiple sexual assault cases involving the college’s football players. Deep tensions reportedly simmered between Starr and other Baylor officials long before the scandal hit. And the lesson here, perhaps, is that sexual assault remains a front-burner issue in higher ed—and it can’t easily be extinguished. (See also “Title IX Enforcement?” above.)
20 College Sports: More Than Head Trauma and Rape While excessive concussions and sexual assaults stealing college sports’ headlines, the American Council on Education has produced guidelines for maintaining high standards and integrity in intercollegiate athletics. These best practices include recognizing the primacy of academics, establishing a “very high bar” for any actions that separate the athlete-student from other students, and producing and sticking to clearly written policies and procedures for misconduct of any sort. In concern for athletes’ health, the NCAA is proposing a less demanding football preseason schedule in efforts to rein in concussions, most of which happen during preseason practice. And at the NCAA’s annual meeting in late January, legislation to give student-athletes some additional free time was adopted.
21 Our Disappearing Rural and Private Colleges While headlines were plugging the fact that the number of international students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities had passed the million mark for the first time in 2015–16, Doug Belkin of the Wall Street Journal found the dark underbelly of this trend: the sagging undergraduate enrollments at private colleges in rural areas and small towns that are making those foreign students necessary. “In 2015,” reports Belkin, “Moody’s Investors Service predicted the number of small private colleges to close would triple to as many as 15 a year.” Grinnell College, for example, a small college (1600 students) in a small town (Grinnell, Iowa, population 9200) has a 2020 class made up of students from 25 foreign countries, with 41 percent coming from China. Other small-town schools, like Michigan’s Albion College, are going the domestic route—by investing tens of millions of dollars to revamp their local communities. For many others, however, it may be too little and too late (see “No Such Thing as a Free Lunch─or Free Tuition,” below).
22 Reshaping Public Education Donald Trump might have given away his education beliefs during the campaign when he started referring to public schools as government schools. And his appointing Jerry Falwell to head the new White House task force on higher education (see “Trump’s January Surprise: Jerry Falwell,” below). signals the importance of a new book by Ashley Berner, the deputy director of the Institute for Education Policy at Johns Hopkins. In her Pluralism and American Public Education: No One Way to School, according to Robert Pondiscio of the Thomas Fordham Institute, Berner “traces much of our educational malaise to a pair of historical ‘wrong turns’: the nineteenth century decision to impose a uniform structure on American education, and the abandonment of a traditional academic curricula. As a result of these twin sins, the majority of our children attend geographically determined, state-run schools. And the majority of those aren’t very good.” Since the “twin sins” of K-12 education have now caught up to higher ed, Berner’s book should be must-reading for Falwell and his task force as well as higher ed reformers of all stripes. See Further Reading, below, for an assortment of stories about what some of those reformers are doing.
23 Technology Trends of the Year Technology is everywhere in higher education. And the biggest tech trends and issues of 2016, as compiled by EdTech, included the increasing use of cloud services and virtual reality; building better networks for all the gadgets students bring to campus; and applying data and predictive analytics to improve student outcomes. (An astounding 98 percent of students surveyed say they welcome schools using their personal data to create an optimized college experience.) Another big issue is protecting colleges from cybersecurity threats. Los Angeles Valley College recently paid $28,000 in ransom, in bitcoins, after a cyberattack disrupted its email, voicemail, and computer systems. But Richard DeMillo gets the last word with his essay for the James G. Martin Center, “The Accelerating Pace of Change in Higher Education.” Distinguished professor of computer science and management and director of the Center for 21st Century Universities at Georgia Tech, DeMillo is upbeat about the future. “The pace of innovation is determined not by the plodding, consensus-oriented processes for which academia is known,” he argues, “but by technology curves that enable a doubling of capabilities every few years.” And thanks to smart use of predictive analytics, says DeMillo, Georgia State saw its graduation rate shoot up 22 points. Such “signposts,” he concludes, in homage to the great futurist Buckminster Fuller, “are the trimtabs that will turn the entire enterprise.
24 Secretary Betsy Wins by a Pence After one of the most contentious Senate hearings for an education secretary in memory, Betsy DeVos won a chance to bring her decidedly conservative and decentralized public education ethos to Washington in a squeaker of a Senate vote that included a vice-presidential tie-breaker—the first-ever for a cabinet nominee. A leading player in the K-12 school-choice movement, the Michigan native and former two-time chairwoman of the state’s Republican Party has never been a teacher, never attended a public school, never sent her children to public schools, and never overseen a state education agency─job qualifications tha may be exactly what our troubled public education system needs. What this means for higher education remains something of a mystery (see “Trump’s January Surprise─Jerry Falwell Jr.,” below). For now DeVos is, as Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health Education and Labor Committee, who maneuvered her through the Capitol Hill nomination minefield, said, “the most question[ed] education secretary in the history of the Senate.” She may also be Jeb Bush’s best revenge; she and the former presidential candidate are longtime political allies who share many of the same views on education. And she began her tenure with a grand swipe at her critics, making her first college visit as Secretary to the prestigious (historically) black Howard University.
25 Trump’s January Surprise—Jerry Falwell Jr. During the months leading up to the presidential election, Donald Trump offered few specifics about his plans for higher education. And by the time the campaign reached its final month, policy experts were lamenting Trump’s presidential bid as a missed opportunity for colleges. Even the Trump University scandal quietly went away. But less than a month into his presidency, Trump dropped a modest bombshell, tapping Jerry Falwell Jr., the evangelical Christian leader and head of Liberty University (who had been Trump’s first choice as Education Secretary (“God’s candidate”)), to lead a White House task force charged with deregulating higher education. This could signal big changes ahead for the relationship between higher education and the federal government, if not between God and Man.
26 Obama Ed Leaves DeVos With a Fine Mess The Obama administration’s Department of Education had always planned to forgive some student debt, but according to the Government Accounting Office, the clemency programs got a bit out of hand and may cost the public treasury a cool $108 billion. And this doesn’t count the number of “loan discharges” for students who attended for-profit colleges found committing fraud; the defunct Corinthian Colleges alone cost the Treasury (i.e. the taxpayer) $558 million in such “debt relief.” Then came discovery of a “coding mistake” in the Obama College Scoreboard data on the last Friday of his tenure: a wonderful three-year student loan repayment rate of 61 percent suddenly dropped to a dismal 41 percent. Worse, when The Wall Street Journal recrunched the numbers, it found that half the students at over 1,000 colleges hadn’t repaid even one dollar in seven years.
27 No Such Thing as a Free Lunch—or Free Tuition In a “wake-up call” for the nation, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently proposed “free college” for any New Yorker accepted to one of the state’s community colleges or four-year universities. It’s not clear who’s waking up to what. There were caveats aplenty─for one, the prospective student’s family had to earn under $125,000 a year to qualify for “free tuition.” Second, it’s estimated that the free tuition program will cost taxpayers $163 million in the first year alone. Third, while students would save about $6,000 a year in tuition, they’d still have to pay $14,000 for fees and room and board. And finally, small private colleges, which now save taxpayers money by educating students without taxpayer help, will now have even more competition from tax-subsidized schools─and thus add to the taxpayers’ burden when and if those schools have to close (see “Our Disappearing Rural and Private Colleges,” above). And one additional problem: state university systems are already facing budget shortfalls.
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