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NAICU President David Warren writes: For more than a century, experts have been writing off the future of small colleges because of changes in demographics, advances in technology and a dearth of financial resources. Yet many manage to persevere through innovation, perspiration and dedication. Smart administrators and faculty have remade colleges to better serve the educational needs of a changing market; have worked together to recruit students, contain costs and generate revenue; and have secured necessary financial support from alumni and philanthropists supportive of their mission and legacy.(Re “Small Colleges Are Pressured Over Finances” April 30)
Reader Kevin Griffith of Columbus, OH, writes: Ohio does have a real problem with the affordability of its state-funded schools. The real scandal here is that a student who attends a state university in Ohio will incur about as much debt as one who attends a private liberal-arts college, all the while taking courses that can vary wildly in quality and rigor. Value for the dollar should certainly be considered when making the choice of a college. Given the attacks on state higher education from budget-slashing legislatures combined with the systemic failures of university administrators to control costs and prioritize quality instruction, the value of a degree from a state university in Ohio will likely continue to erode.
NAICU comments on what the U.S. Department of Education’s financial responsibility list means for consumers considering private nonprofit colleges, and expresses concern about the underlying test’s accuracy. The test, which was created to evaluate the financial health of colleges participating in the federal Title IV student aid programs, has come under increased scrutiny.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's college cost website can be useful for comparing financial aid award letters and is graphically appealing. However, the site's entry point provides confusing and inaccurate information that muddies the true cost of college.
While I agree higher education must continue to find new efficiencies, cut costs, and improve affordability (Editorial, "Some welcome steps toward reducing the cost of college," Dec. 2), I find it deeply disturbing that the Post buys into the urban myth that federal student aid is a college cost driver. Federal studies conducted during the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations*, and most education economists, have found no evidence that federal student aid fuels tuition increases.
Trinity College Professor Stefanie Chambers reminded me that in a world overloaded with media and information, students need critical thinking and writing skills more than ever. The problem is that things really have changed dramatically since the high water mark for liberal arts education in the 1960s. We live in a time when college graduates depart campus with an average of $24,000 in loans and the unemployment rate for people in their early 20s is more than 14 percent. Is it fair to pretend that a true liberal arts education should not have anything to do with paying the bills later in life?
Education Trust's unreasonable, if not outlandish, research assumptions and untested data lead to research findings that generate sensational headlines and have the potential to detract from serious policy discussions. It strains credibility for Education Trust to report that less than one-half percent of U.S. four-year colleges and universities effectively serve low-income students.
There's a touch of irony here: In response to what you view as "biased bashing of career schools" by the Obama administration (The Monitor's View, October 7), you respond with your own biased bashing of traditional colleges. That's hardly an example of the kind of accountability for all of American higher education which you claim to seek.
In these tight budget times, colleges and universities are intensely focused on protecting and growing their revenue sources. This is drawing increased attention to the marketing function. Marketers with a successful track record inside higher education or from the corporate world are being considered for "chief marketing officer" positions.
Students and families considering private colleges should not be scared off by Mr. Kahn's pessimistic and largely anecdotal assessment of private higher education's affordability and value ("The Fat Envelope, Please," opinion, April 3). For many students, the silver lining in the recession will be larger student aid budgets and smaller tuition increases in 2009-10.
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