Wednesday, May 30, 2018

NCES Projecting Stagnant College Enrollment Numbers

The National Center for Education Statistics is moderating its perspective on US higher education enrollment.

Earlier NCES reports projected college enrollment to grow to more than 22 million students by 2023.

In the Department of Education's The Condition of Education 2018 report, NCES projects enrollment to recover to 17.4 million undergraduate students by 2027, after six consecutive years of losses.

But even these more moderate numbers may be too rosy if NCES projections are already off from 2017 and the first half of 2018, as National Student Clearinghouse numbers would suggest.

Unless there are major policy changes at the federal, state, and local levels, it's not impossible to project a more dismal picture. These positive changes would need to address social inequality in the US, including the savage inequalities in K-12 education and college affordability for working-class families.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

College Meltdown: State By State Changes

The National Student Clearinghouse has provided College Meltdown with state by state
changes in college enrollment from Fall 2011 to Fall 2017. 

The chart is listed in order of percentage loss or gain.  New Mexico, Hawaii, Illinois,
Michigan, and Alaska were hardest hit.  Twenty two states experienced losses of 10 percent
or more.  

Six states increased their enrollment from 2011 to 2017.  New Hampshire and Utah, the
two largest gainers, increased their enrollment by having a large online presence (Southern
New Hampshire University and BYU online).  
State Change % Change N Fall 2017 Fall 2011
Multi-State Institutions -53% -724,715 645,035 1,369,750
New Mexico -20% -28,468 115,734 144,202
Hawaii -19% -12,700 52,938 65,638
Illinois -19% -141,554 616,520 758,074
Michigan -19% -117,285 516,291 633,576
Alaska -17% -5,922 29,551 35,473
Oregon -17% -42,139 211,264 253,403
Missouri -16% -64,193 347,315 411,508
Louisiana -15% -38,854 222,640 261,494
West Virginia -15% -24,793 144,717 169,510
Montana -15% -8,134 47,811 55,945
Indiana -14% -57,710 345,140 402,850
Kentucky -14% -38,766 238,922 277,688
Minnesota -14% -58,239 362,416 420,655
Arkansas -13% -23,649 154,979 178,628
Ohio -13% -87,250 602,612 689,862
Wisconsin -12% -43,238 307,565 350,803
Oklahoma -11% -23,511 187,640 211,151
Maryland -11% -40,986 346,501 387,487
Wyoming -10% -3,396 29,333 32,729
Nebraska -10% -14,418 127,526 141,944
Pennsylvania -10% -72,163 682,995 755,158
North Dakota -9% -5,275 51,084 56,359
Iowa -9% -20,247 201,485 221,732
New Jersey -9% -37,731 383,465 421,196
Colorado -9% -28,640 291,986 320,626
Virginia -8% -44,484 484,523 529,007
New York -8% -98,904 1,092,559 1,191,463
Mississippi -8% -14,305 166,005 180,310
Washington -8% -27,148 316,152 343,300
Vermont -7% -3,177 40,024 43,201
Florida -7% -74,318 1,003,014 1,077,332
Massachusetts -7% -32,753 444,670 477,423
Maine -7% -4,690 65,361 70,051
Georgia -6% -33,836 491,898 525,734
Tennessee -6% -20,642 300,337 320,979
North Carolina -6% -32,642 522,750 555,392
Kansas -5% -10,015 193,733 203,748
District of Columbia -5% -3,727 73,925 77,652
Rhode Island -4% -3,179 69,543 72,722
South Carolina -4% -9,339 236,782 246,121
Connecticut -3% -6,257 187,124 193,381
Nevada -2% -2,651 110,085 112,736
California -2% -43,872 2,515,551 2,559,423
Alabama -1% -4,149 290,704 294,853
Delaware 0% -177 55,926 56,103
South Dakota 3% 1,200 46,598 45,398
Texas 4% 58,803 1,489,865 1,431,062
Idaho 4% 4,202 100,851 96,649
Arizona 6% 23,750 451,539 427,789
Utah* 25% 63,108 317,839 254,731
New Hampshire* 89% 69,661 147,773 78,112
*Growth driven by institutions with large online programs. Students may not be physically
located within the state.

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

Monday, December 19, 2016

College Meltdown at a Turning Point

[Image above: Turning Point USA, a neoconservative student group, has grown to more than 1100 high school and college chapters since its founding in 2012.]

The College Meltdown has been developing for decades. But now, it is at a turning point as the Trump Administration enters office.  Most likely, American colleges are headed toward more racial and ethnic tension, less transparency, and more corruption.  And the Trump Administration's solutions, which include privatization and deregulation, may not only accelerate the College Meltdown, their "hands off" approach to civil rights may increase conflicts on campus.

Donald Trump's selection of Betsy Devos and Jeff Sessions as US Secretary of Education and Attorney General have already sent a loud statement to those who research and analyze organizational effectiveness and institutional corruption in education.

The loud statement is that citizens should keep an eye out for even more discrimination, inequality, and fraud in K-12 education and higher education. Non-Christians and "others" with limited financial resources should be particularly concerned. But don't expect to get much information from the corporate controlled media--it would take too much work and it wouldn't be profitable.

For those interested in how education policy plays out over the next four years, we'll also need to know who will lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Trade Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Communications Commission, and how much those agencies will receive in funding for oversight of the US education industry.

Lack of oversight will accelerate opportunities for cronyism, nepotism, theft, lack of transparency, academic cheating, and intellectual dishonesty at the state and local levels

We also expect this increase in wrongdoing and poor decisions to be met with limited resistance and highly framed media attention.

Over the last two decades, tens of billions of dollars have already poured into charter schools despite lack of evidence about their effectiveness. Charter school enrollment has risen from about 300,000 in 1999 to about 2.5 million children in 2015 (about 5% of all school children).

Government-fed media stories may show structural failure that has been existent for generations and corruption that has cropped up in the age of increasing school choice. But ideological perspectives and power will influence which sides get the most attention, the quantity and quality of background information provided, and which stories (if any) gain the most traction.
"School choice," "empowerment," "opportunity," "religious freedom," "union corruption," "failing schools," "local control," "merit pay," "vouchers,"   "political correctness," "safe spaces," and "micro-aggressions" will be terms widely used to frame stories about US education.
For every action by all of these educational players, there will be a set of reactions from multiple sides. Vested interests include banks, private equity, hedge funds, philanthropies and foundations, for-profit and non-profit education and educational services companies, political parties, teachers union leaders, marketing and advertising companies, construction unions, pension funds, lobbying firms, think tanks, public relations businesses, and media outlets.
   Liberals may secretly like vouchers, so their children can get tuition breaks for private school attendance, or chances to get out of dangerous or failing public schools.   
Much of the action will also be at the state and local level and may not be reported by major news outlets.
The Libertarian Cato Institute has created a public schooling "battle ground" map about various neoconservative conservative social issues that are being fought across the country.

Outside players such as student debt groups, adjunct professors, and teacher resistance groups will also be involved, but will likely be marginalized or silenced.

We cannot predict what will happen exactly, but power, influence, and organizational effectiveness will be large determiners of what unfolds. And deals between power players behind the scenes may be vastly different than what is presented in the media.
Some people will profit from the direction the nation's educational policy is going. But a larger number will suffer. We don't expect society as a whole to understand the consequences for quite some time. 
  • Parents with high hopes will place their children in lotteries for high-demand charter schools. But most will be disappointed.
  • About 0.5% of American children are currently enrolled in online charter schools. But this number could expand with deregulation, even if their educational value is in question.

While we construct this article, we suggest that you read three of our previous reports.

We invite feedback and opinions from all sides with interests in the education business and will respond to every comment we receive. Our email is