Colleges Want more Public and State Funding

, Spencer Irvine, 5 Comments

Running out of funds and ideas, colleges want more public funding to help keep them afloat. During a recent panel discussion at the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, speakers praised President Barack Obama’s higher education push for performance-based pay and incentives for colleges and universities.

Ted Mitchell, U.S. Department of Education undersecretary, complained about today’s higher education funding environment, telling the audience, “There has been systematic disinvestment by states throughout the Great Recession in higher education,” adding that it “really does disadvantage students” from low-income neighborhoods and backgrounds. He felt the state governments, by not funding state universities as much as they used to, were “taking what was a fairly balanced three party compact between states, and families and the federal government and unbalancing that in a way.”

He applauded his department’s efforts to create innovation in higher education through a “first-in-the-world grant competition” where over 500 colleges and universities applied. According to Mitchell,  there is a higher education performance fund, run by the Department of Education, to reward states for funding their public institutions and ensure they are funding low-income students.

David Baime, the senior vice president for Government Relations and Research for the American Association of Community Colleges,  touted the comparatively lower cost of community colleges and claimed that several community college presidents have begun aggressive outreach efforts to their communities, in order to boost enrollment and increase college readiness. The Great Recession, he noted, was “a double whammy as it were; where we had cuts in funding…along with dramatically increased enrollment” at the same time. Baime said community colleges saw “22% increased enrollment during the three peak years of the recession…which has slowly tapered off [today].” Community colleges’ lower cost “ensure [that] the vast majority of college students don’t graduate with student debt,” he asserted. Baime estimated that 17 percent of students borrow while in community college.

He admitted that “more than 60% of our students are tested to do some remedial work.” A major problem with low-income students is how these “students don’t necessarily have models of college going in their families.” This has “been a difficult needle to thread for a lot of our colleges.” How did all of those who were the first generation in their family to go to college manage all of these years…

University of South Florida (USF) executive president and provost Ralph Wilcox noted that his school is a top 15 research university that has not lost “sight of [our] focus on serving the needs of our students…enhancing student success.” USF saw “an 8 point increase in our freshman retention rate” and increases in six-year graduation rates. Wilcox claimed, “We’ve also seen an increase in graduation rates there from 60 percent to 68 percent” for students enrolled for four years. But, he said, “We’re not yet satisfied” with these results, even with an increase of Pell grant recipients from 19% to 41% in recent years at USF. (When John Belushi uttered a line like this in Animal House 35 years ago, it was meant as a joke.)

He said USF has increased student engagement by requiring freshmen students to live on-campus. He admitted it costs more for the students, but told the audience the reasoning behind the requirement is that USF found, “students that engage fully in life on campus…will progress toward graduation.”

Additionally, Wilcox noted “Not all of those families fully understand FAFSA[the financial aid form]” and it is up to USF administrators to explain these options to students and their families.

USF’s own tuition—$6,500 a year— is slightly more than community colleges—at around $3,000, but Wilcox admitted, “We realize that’s an immense strain on the coffers.” At USF, “We’ve seen an infusion of new investment in public higher education around performance based funding” and a quarter of Florida’s $100 million investment in state universities goes to USF.

Sarah Audelo, policy director at Generation Progress, praised activist students, such as the Millennials she works with, for “targeting members of Congress” and local state legislatures to obtain social services while enrolled in college. She said, “40% of us are young people of color” and about “15% are not born in the United States.” These “DREAMers,” she said, need “to see a whole wraparound support for these young people.” She mentioned the emergence of “LGBT resource centers, because 6% of our generation identifies” as that demographic.

Remedial courses kill the chance of higher education for many poor, young students, Audelo said. “For young people that are already living in poverty…that time, that extra semester or two…is college happening at all or not.” Perhaps it never occurred to her that maybe the answer should be not.

She believed education was a major issue “that young people are ready to mobilize on” and are “taking it to the ballot box as well, which we think is very exciting.” With significant student debt, Audelo said too many young students do not know their options about student loan forgiveness in the public sector. She said that too many students “have drastically shifted their career course” due to student debt and did not know of these options. Audelo commented, “They could be making very different career decisions if they knew” of student loan forgiveness in public sector jobs.


5 Responses

  1. madhatter46

    October 31, 2014 1:05 pm

    Stop the nonsense—cut back on the ridiculously high salaried positions. How many courses do you teach? How many weeks are you off during the year? Sorry, like everybody else learn to live without! The vast majority of Americans are lucky to have just a defined contribution 401(K) not some defined benefit largesse pension paid for by the struggling non-public union workers, who are lucky to retire at 65, not in their 50’s like you! Time for reality checks.


    October 31, 2014 2:03 pm

    Lose the over priced communist idiots on the payrolls. They don’t teach the classes they are paid to teach and just eat up parents money for no reason with the kids coming out with stupid ideas and no knowledge of what they went to school for in the first place. If the schools can’t sustain themselves on what they take in from the kids they are supposed to teach, maybe they should fail.

  3. terry1956

    November 2, 2014 12:22 pm

    For fiscal year 2015 almost total federal, state, county and local government spending will be over 1 trillion dollars.
    you can find the fiqures here
    I said almost all because the education benefits for miltary and veterns is included in the defense fiqures not the educaton fiqures.
    There is around 5 million new born Americans born every year with just the 10% of government spending on education going into a trust fund for each then each would have a trust fund to start of 20,000 dollars.
    With dividends reinvested the stock market has averaged an annual geomteric return of over 8% since 1871 or a doubling an average of around every 9 years.
    At that return each of the trust funds would be worth over 2.5 million dollars by age 64.
    If half of the total government spending was put into the trust funds then each would have 100,000 dollars to start then by age 46 each trust fund would worth 3.2 million.
    Geomteric annual average returns for small cap value stocks was over 14% from 1969 to 2002 and over 12% from 1927 to 2013.
    At 12% the 20,000 dollar birth trust fund would be worth over 2.5 million by age 43.
    with the 100,000 dollar a year trust fund at a geometric annual average of 12% then in 42 years each trust fund would have a value of 12.8 million dollars or 25.6 million per couple.
    If one looks at the 1 trillion being only for ages for the 56 million or so kids between age 7 and 17 that would give each a voucher of over 17,857 dollars a year and half that would still be over 8,928 dollars a year if you were going to give a voucher and start the birth trust fund ( but no government subsidy would be much better except maybe a tax credit on state, county and local taxes for giving to private non profit scholarship funds to help those parents who need a subsidy)
    After 42 years you could easily elimnate all government education, welfare, healthcare, social service, pension and social security spending.
    At 25.6 million dollars if the couple only got an average 5% return from age 43 onward that would be an average of 1.28 million dollars a year income without touching the 25.6 million, they could easily support their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, send their kids to a private school, have only a very very high deductiable health insurance plan.
    Then they could pass the principle to the kids who would also have a trust fund build up, then the grand kids and future generations would not need a birth trust fund.
    With only real public goods funded by government ( defense, police, courts, prisons, roads etc) total federal, state, county and local government spending could be only 10% or less of GDP compared to over 35% today.

  4. Tucker Matthew Rain

    November 5, 2014 1:49 pm

    Education wouldn’t be so expensive if getting a degree didn’t require having to take classes that have no bearing on the sought after career. It’s a scam.

  5. Tucker Matthew Rain

    November 5, 2014 1:51 pm

    How do those 5 million new born Americans manage to avoid Roe v. Wade? It truly is a miracle.

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