Monday, September 18, 2017

US Department of Education Fails to Recognize College Meltdown

The Department of Education's predictions about college enrollment may overestimate the number of students in 2023 by 5-7 million.  

At what point will President Donald Trump's Department of Education realize that US higher education is facing dramatic losses in enrollment, and that their rosy projections are so wrong?

According to the National Student Clearinghouse, higher education enrollment has declined by 2.4 million students since 2010-2011. And the greatest losses have come from community colleges, which have experienced a 1.6 million student decline.

The US Department of Education, however, projects a consistent upward trend in enrollment despite acknowledging consistent losses from 2011 to 2015.  

Optimistic analysts suggest that the enrollment declines are the result of an improved economy, where jobs are more prevalent. But this pollyanna analysis belies the underlying problems in higher education and the greater economy that I have been chronicling on LinkedIn and College Meltdown.
Check out the 40 hardest hit US public 2-year institutions and you will see a pattern of government austerity, localized depressions, increasing inequality and an eroding K-12 pipeline.
Now, more than 15 indicators of the college meltdown have hit yellow or red lights. Revenues, the only green light in my analysis, appear to be in decline. Increasing student loan interest rates and reductions in need based funding may also accelerate the meltdown faster than my original models.

While elite colleges and brand name state universities continue to do well, for-profit colleges, community colleges, small private rural colleges, second-tier state colleges and HBCUs face major headwinds.
To make matters worse, public opinion about colleges has been worsening, especially among Republicans and the white working class. Whether this has already affected enrollment numbers has not been thoroughly investigated.
Inside Higher Education was bold enough to post a piece titled "What Happens If Higher Ed Collapses." But how many people read Inside Higher Education?
Potential political and cultural clashes this fall on college campuses may also worsen public opinion.
There are some positive developments happening, such as free community college in Oregon, Tennessee, New York, and Rhode Island, but this is not enough to remedy the destructive developments of defunding, deregulation, and privatization proposed by the Trump Administration.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

College Meltdown: NY, IL, MI, PA, VA hardest hit

For-profit colleges, HBCUs, community colleges, and small rural private colleges have been hardest hit by the meltdown, while elite colleges and flagship universities continue to rake in tens of billions in revenues.

States and counties display different patterns during the College Meltdown. Four factors in determining where community colleges and second- and third-tier state colleges are most vulnerable to the College Meltdown include : (1) states with declining college enrollments and (2) declining numbers of high school graduates, (3) states that have already been cutting state funding of colleges and community colleges, and (4) states and counties with above average indebtedness.

I am in the process of creating a ranking of those States most vulnerable to the College Meltdown. Is your state listed? Are there any factors that aggravate or mitigate indebtedness and declining youth numbers?

(1) Declining College Enrollment Numbers (>10,000)
  • New York (-30,695)
  • Illinois (-26,089)
  • Michigan (-25,841)
  • Pennsylvania (-18,390)
  • Virginia (-15,613)
  • Massachusetts  (-13,444)
  • Wisconsin (-13,122)
  • Texas (-11,376)
  • Colorado  (-11,039)
  • Maryland (-10,444)

(2) Declining High School Graduates (> 5%) 
(10% or more decline)
  • Illinois
  • Mississippi
  • Michigan
  • Ohio
  • Vermont
  • New Hampshire
  • Maine
  • Rhode Island
  • California
(5% to 10% decline)
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Wisconsin
  • Alabama
  • Missouri
  • West Virginia
  • Kentucky
  • Indiana
  • Massachusetts

(3) State Funding Cuts Targeting Higher Education (>30% since the recession)
  • Arizona (55.6%)
  • Illinois (54.0%)
  • Louisiana (39.1%)
  • South Carolina (37.0%)
  • Alabama (36.2%)
  • Pennsylvania (33.3%)
  • Kentucky (32.0%)
  • Idaho (30.8%)
  • New Hampshire (30.1%)

(4) State and Local Indebtedness
  • New York
  • South Carolina
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington
  • Florida
  • Kentucky
  • Illinois
  • Connecticut
  • Pennsylvania
  • Massachusetts
  • West Virginia
  • Colorado
  • New Jersey
  • Nevada
  • Hawaii
  • Texas
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Community Colleges at the Heart of College Meltdown

Community college enrollment has dropped by 1.6 million students (23%) in the last six years.  Even worse, full-time enrollment at community colleges has dropped by 36% over the last 6 years. Source for Data: National Student Clearinghouse.

US college enrollment has dropped by about 2.5 million students over the last six years, but this College Meltdown has not been spread evenly.

For-profit colleges have been hardest hit in their percentage decline of students and campus closings. But community colleges, which may be the best educational value for working families, have been even harder hit in the sheer numbers who are not attending.

While the for-profit college crash has been well documented in the media, the crisis in community colleges has been under-reported.
For-profit colleges have seen a decline of about 600,000 students since their peak, but community college enrollment has declined even more, by 1.6 million.

[Image below:  Most US community colleges have seen enrollment declines. Data from National Center for Education Statistics]

The reaction to the community college downturn has ranged from punitive to progressive: reduced state and local funding, higher tuition, reduced student and family services, fewer teachers, lower educational standards--and free college tuition:
In 2003, 53% of all community colleges offered campus child care. In 2015, only 44% had it.
At the national level, the dearth of reporting on the community college downturn begs more questions:
  1. What community colleges have been hardest hit?
  2. What has happened to all the people who have decided not to go to a community college?
  3. Why do you think the enrollment crisis in US community colleges has been under-reported?

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Charting the College Meltdown

This chart illustrates the mostly downward movement of the College Meltdown.  Overall, revenues to higher education institutions continue to rise, but these numbers mask the many weaknesses in the system.

What we are looking at is unsustainable. 

While elite colleges and brand name colleges will continue to thrive, many for-profit colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, community colleges, and lesser valued public and private colleges will suffer.

This trend may be disturbing for working people and their families, but it is also an opportunity for others to consolidate power and increase profits.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

"Creative Destruction" in Higher Ed Will Accelerate Under Trump and DeVos

  • 42% of today’s college students are living near or below the poverty line.
  • Student services have been cut substantially since the last recession.
  • Total US college debt has increased to $1.4 trillion.
  • Only about 40% of student loan debtors are paying back more than interest.  
  • US college enrollment has declined 5 consecutive years, with no reasonable expectation that the decline will slow down. 
  • State funding cuts for higher education are continuing in several states, with no new taxes and increasing burdens from Medicaid, pensions, and infrastructure repair. 
  • More than half of all college teachers are low-paid adjuncts.
  • College mergers and closings are expected to increase. 
  • Differences between for-profit and non-profit colleges continue to be blurred. 
All are signs of a long-term crisis in US higher education reinforcing even greater social inequality--what I have coined the "College Meltdown."

Every year, the picture becomes clearer that the College Meltdown is worsening. But vested interests refuse to acknowledge the situation or they claim that the problems are just the first step toward a better, corporate-based solution.

President Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos promise to accelerate the College Meltdown.
Political conservatives like Richard Vedder have long believed that government funding has artificially inflated college costs, making higher education an increasingly risky proposition. Vedder and others also argue that the College Meltdown is not occurring fast enough, and that unfettered market forces would allow for greater consolidation and "creative destruction."

Trump's long range plans could put these ideas into practice. Already, DeVos has hired people who have worked for the for-profit college industry. And it's not inconceivable that the US could get out of the student loan business, handing the reins back to the banks.

Other conservatives will profit, or at least hedge their bets, from the meltdown. The Koch Brothers, for example, are spending money to shape social policy at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 

Do you believe that less government oversight and more creative destruction in higher education will make things better? Should banks be in control of student loans with limited oversight?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Bibliography of the College Meltdown

Alexander, B. (2020). Academia Next: The Futures of Higher Education

Angulo, A. (2016). Diploma Mills: How For-profit Colleges Stiffed Students, Taxpayers, and the American Dream

Armstrong, E. and Hamilton, L. (2015). Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality

Bennett, W. and Wilezol, D. (2013). Is College Worth It?: A Former United States Secretary of Education and a Liberal Arts Graduate Expose the Broken Promise of Higher Education                          

Berg, G. (2005). Lessons from the Edge: For-profit and Nontraditional Higher Education in America

Best, J, and Best, E. (2014). The Student Loan Mess: How Good Intentions Created a Trillion-Dollar Problem

Blumenstyk, G. (2014). American Higher Education in Crisis?: What Everyone Needs to Know

Bousquet, M. (2008). How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low Wage Nation

Breneman, D. et al. (2006). Earnings from Learning: The Rise of For-profit Universities

Cappelli, P. (2015). Will College Pay Off?: A Guide to the Most Important Financial Decision You'll Ever Make

Chung, A. (2012). Choice of For-profit College Economics of Education Review, v31 n6 p1084-1101.

Cottom, T. (2016). Lower Ed: How For-profit Colleges Deepen Inequality in America

Cottom, T. (2014). For-profits Are Us. AFT Higher Education On Campus 33(4), pp. 7–11.

Donoghue, F.  (2008). The Last Professors: The Corporate University and the Fate of the Humanities

Fabricant, M. (2016). Austerity Blues

Ginsberg, B. (2013). The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All Administrative University and Why It Matters

Giroux, H. (2014). Neoliberalism's War on Higher Education

Golden, D. (2006). The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys its Way into Elite Colleges — and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates

Goldrick-Rab, S. (2016). Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream

Halperin, D. (2014). Stealing America's Future: How For-profit Colleges Scam Taxpayers and Ruin Students' Lives

Hentschke, G. et al. (2010). For-profit Colleges and Universities: Their Markets, Regulation, Performance, and Place in Higher Education

Johnson, B. et al. (2003). Steal This University: The Rise of the Corporate University and the Academic Labor Movement

Kinser, K. (2006). From Main Street to Wall Street: The Transformation of For-profit Higher Education

Leach, T. (2008). The Impact of For-profit Privatization on Higher Education in the State of Massachusetts

Levin, H. (2001). Thoughts on For-profit Schools

McGuire, M. (2012). Subprime Education: For-profit Colleges and the Problem with Title IV Student Aid. Duke Law Journal, 62 (1): 119-160

Mettler, S. (2014). Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream

Morey, A. (2004). Globalization and the Emergence of For-profit Education

Murphy, J. (2013). Mission Forsaken—The University of Phoenix Affair With Wall Street

Newfeld, C. (2011). Unmaking the Public University

Newfeld, C. (2016). The Great Mistake: How We Wrecked Public Universities and How We Can Fix Them

Perini, M.(2011). A Phoenix Still in Ashes: For-profit Open Admissions and the Public Good

Roth, G. (2019). The Educated Underclass: Students and the False Promise of Social Mobility
Ruch, R. (2003). Higher Ed Inc.: The Rise of the For-profit University

Selingo, J. (2013). College Unbound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students    

Stodghill, R. (2015). Where Everybody Looks Like Me: At the Crossroads of America's Black Colleges and Culture                                                                                                       

Vedder, R. (2004). Going Broke By Degree: Why College Costs Too Much          

Washburn, J. (2006). University Inc.: The Corporate Corruption of Higher Education