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Letter to the Dallas Morning News from NAICU and the American Association of Community Colleges

Letter to the Dallas Morning News from NAICU and the American Assoc...

October 28, 2005

Letters to the Editor
Dallas Morning News

Re: "Getting American Ready," October 28

 

To the Editor:

Contrary to your editorial ("Getting America Ready," October 28), Congress must protect the integrity provisions that govern the student aid program and distance learning programs at colleges and universities so that the Higher Education Act best serves students and the national interest in the global marketplace. These provisions, which include those that affect institutions that teach a majority of their students or provide a majority of their courses at a distance, were put in place in 1993 to stem the tide of unscrupulous correspondence and "store-front" education providers offering inadequate training and education to students, and bilking the student aid programs. Too often, unsuspecting students were left with meaningless certificates and mounds of loan debt.

Responding to a rash of lawsuits, U.S. Department of Education investigations, and SEC inquiries over the past year, the Education Department's inspector general warned policymakers in March to proceed cautiously before eliminating outright the integrity provisions. This is not the route the House has decided to follow in its higher education legislation.

It is already possible under current law for legitimate institutions to be waived by the Education Department from distance education requirements. They have the opportunity to demonstrate that they are able to operate within the student aid program judiciously and effectively even without the provisions in place, as has been done in the department's education demonstration project.

However, gutting the student aid safeguards that have saved taxpayers billions of dollars and protected students from fly-by-night operators over the past decade is nothing short of irresponsible and dangerous. The programs that have made higher education possible for millions of Americans are too vital to our nation's future to be put at such grave risk.

There is no doubt that distance education will continue to be an important facet of higher education learning. In one way or another, online teaching has been adopted as an important learning tool at most of our institutions, and colleges and universities of all types and size recognize the value it holds to many students. The downside of distance learning is that its flexibility and convenience make it easy for students to be used by con men as nothing more than a conduit for profits received in the form of federal student aid.

Sincerely,

George R. Boggs, President and CEO
American Association of Community Colleges

David L. Warren, President,
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

Letters to the Editor
Dallas Morning News

Re: "Getting American Ready," October 28

 

To the Editor:

Contrary to your editorial ("Getting America Ready," October 28), Congress must protect the integrity provisions that govern the student aid program and distance learning programs at colleges and universities so that the Higher Education Act best serves students and the national interest in the global marketplace. These provisions, which include those that affect institutions that teach a majority of their students or provide a majority of their courses at a distance, were put in place in 1993 to stem the tide of unscrupulous correspondence and "store-front" education providers offering inadequate training and education to students, and bilking the student aid programs. Too often, unsuspecting students were left with meaningless certificates and mounds of loan debt.

Responding to a rash of lawsuits, U.S. Department of Education investigations, and SEC inquiries over the past year, the Education Department's inspector general warned policymakers in March to proceed cautiously before eliminating outright the integrity provisions. This is not the route the House has decided to follow in its higher education legislation.

It is already possible under current law for legitimate institutions to be waived by the Education Department from distance education requirements. They have the opportunity to demonstrate that they are able to operate within the student aid program judiciously and effectively even without the provisions in place, as has been done in the department's education demonstration project.

However, gutting the student aid safeguards that have saved taxpayers billions of dollars and protected students from fly-by-night operators over the past decade is nothing short of irresponsible and dangerous. The programs that have made higher education possible for millions of Americans are too vital to our nation's future to be put at such grave risk.

There is no doubt that distance education will continue to be an important facet of higher education learning. In one way or another, online teaching has been adopted as an important learning tool at most of our institutions, and colleges and universities of all types and size recognize the value it holds to many students. The downside of distance learning is that its flexibility and convenience make it easy for students to be used by con men as nothing more than a conduit for profits received in the form of federal student aid.

Sincerely,

George R. Boggs, President and CEO
American Association of Community Colleges

David L. Warren, President,
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

October 28, 2005

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Letter to the New York Times

Letter to the New York Times

September 26, 2005

Letters to the Editor
New York Times

Re: Column, "The Education Gap," September 26

To the Editor:

David Brooks misses the single largest contributing factor to the education gap between low-income students and their high-income peers, when he says that “Given the rising flow of aid money, financial barriers are not the main issue” (“The Education Gap,” column, Sept. 26). According to the congressionally created Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, millions of academically prepared students from low-income and working families will be shut out of college over the next 10 years unless the federal government and states reinvest in their need-based student aid programs. The committee found that finances are a huge barrier, even for students from low-income families who are among the most qualified to attend four-year colleges.

Federal funding for Pell Grants and other need-based aid has virtually stagnated for five years. The budget outlook for student aid—even before the unexpected spending on hurricane relief—is projected to only worsen over the next five years. Despite significant funding increases in the late ’90s, the value of the Pell Grant—the cornerstone program for needy students—has not kept up with the Consumer Price Index over the past 25 years.

Our colleges and universities are doing their part to overcome the financial barriers faced by needy students. Twenty years ago, students at private colleges and universities received equal amounts of grant aid from the federal government and from institutions themselves. Today, students receive more than four times as much grant aid from private colleges as from the government—$10.2 billion vs. $2.4 billion. Over the last decade, private institutions have increased their institutional aid budgets at nearly twice the rate of tuition increases—142 percent vs. 72 percent.

Despite their commitment, the efforts of these colleges will not be enough to ensure access for the coming influx of academically qualified but needy students. Equal educational opportunity, and the economic strength and social fabric of our nation, will largely rest on whether Congress and the administration change course and reinvest in student financial aid. For the sake of aspiring students and America’s future prosperity, I hope they do.

Sincerely,

David L. Warren, President
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

 

Letters to the Editor
New York Times

Re: Column, "The Education Gap," September 26

To the Editor:

David Brooks misses the single largest contributing factor to the education gap between low-income students and their high-income peers, when he says that “Given the rising flow of aid money, financial barriers are not the main issue” (“The Education Gap,” column, Sept. 26). According to the congressionally created Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, millions of academically prepared students from low-income and working families will be shut out of college over the next 10 years unless the federal government and states reinvest in their need-based student aid programs. The committee found that finances are a huge barrier, even for students from low-income families who are among the most qualified to attend four-year colleges.

Federal funding for Pell Grants and other need-based aid has virtually stagnated for five years. The budget outlook for student aid—even before the unexpected spending on hurricane relief—is projected to only worsen over the next five years. Despite significant funding increases in the late ’90s, the value of the Pell Grant—the cornerstone program for needy students—has not kept up with the Consumer Price Index over the past 25 years.

Our colleges and universities are doing their part to overcome the financial barriers faced by needy students. Twenty years ago, students at private colleges and universities received equal amounts of grant aid from the federal government and from institutions themselves. Today, students receive more than four times as much grant aid from private colleges as from the government—$10.2 billion vs. $2.4 billion. Over the last decade, private institutions have increased their institutional aid budgets at nearly twice the rate of tuition increases—142 percent vs. 72 percent.

Despite their commitment, the efforts of these colleges will not be enough to ensure access for the coming influx of academically qualified but needy students. Equal educational opportunity, and the economic strength and social fabric of our nation, will largely rest on whether Congress and the administration change course and reinvest in student financial aid. For the sake of aspiring students and America’s future prosperity, I hope they do.

Sincerely,

David L. Warren, President
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

 

September 26, 2005

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Letter to the Boston Globe

Letter to the Boston Globe

August 16, 2005

Letters to the Editor
Boston Globe

 

To the Editor:

Your article got it wrong on why colleges are worked up about Congress’s proposal on college cost (“U.S. bid to keep tabs on tuition irks colleges,” Aug. 16).

The proposal has little to do with ranking colleges in a public image building contest. It has everything to do with de facto price controls.

Congress would insert itself into the middle of each college’s pricing decisions, stripping boards of trustees at private and public institutions of their independence and responsibilities to students. At thousands of colleges, Congress and the U.S. Department at Education would walk into a trustees meeting and take permanent seats at the table.

The proposal would require that colleges whose prices exceed a federally imposed formula to provide a detailed report to the U.S. Secretary of Education, create a “Quality-Efficiency Task Force,” develop a management plan, develop an action plan, and face the threat of being placed on “affordability alert status” and go under audit review by the U.S. Inspector General.

Colleges will face a choice between two equally onerous options. The first is keeping tuition increases at federally prescribed levels and complying with federal price controls, regardless of the impact on institutional aid budgets for low- and middle-income families and the quality of the educational experience. The second is to succumb to federal oversight.

Our institutions are already required to report comprehensive data on price, student aid, and countless other indicators to the U.S. Department of Education. Before imposing further unfunded mandates on college, Congress needs to work with ED to ensure that this consumer information is effectively packaged and widely publicized. We support this goal.

The needs of students and the dynamics of the higher education marketplace, not federal intrusion into campus management decisions, are what should drive the decisions of college trustees.

Sincerely,

David L. Warren
President
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
 

Letters to the Editor
Boston Globe

 

To the Editor:

Your article got it wrong on why colleges are worked up about Congress’s proposal on college cost (“U.S. bid to keep tabs on tuition irks colleges,” Aug. 16).

The proposal has little to do with ranking colleges in a public image building contest. It has everything to do with de facto price controls.

Congress would insert itself into the middle of each college’s pricing decisions, stripping boards of trustees at private and public institutions of their independence and responsibilities to students. At thousands of colleges, Congress and the U.S. Department at Education would walk into a trustees meeting and take permanent seats at the table.

The proposal would require that colleges whose prices exceed a federally imposed formula to provide a detailed report to the U.S. Secretary of Education, create a “Quality-Efficiency Task Force,” develop a management plan, develop an action plan, and face the threat of being placed on “affordability alert status” and go under audit review by the U.S. Inspector General.

Colleges will face a choice between two equally onerous options. The first is keeping tuition increases at federally prescribed levels and complying with federal price controls, regardless of the impact on institutional aid budgets for low- and middle-income families and the quality of the educational experience. The second is to succumb to federal oversight.

Our institutions are already required to report comprehensive data on price, student aid, and countless other indicators to the U.S. Department of Education. Before imposing further unfunded mandates on college, Congress needs to work with ED to ensure that this consumer information is effectively packaged and widely publicized. We support this goal.

The needs of students and the dynamics of the higher education marketplace, not federal intrusion into campus management decisions, are what should drive the decisions of college trustees.

Sincerely,

David L. Warren
President
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
 

August 16, 2005

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Letter to the Boston Globe

Letter to the Boston Globe

February 10, 2005

Letters to the Editor
Boston Globe

To the Editor:

Jeff Jacoby would not pass a class in introductory higher education economics or 20th-century American history (“Making college affordable,” February 10).

Every piece of empirical evidence that exists—from the U.S. Department of Education, independent consultants, and higher education economists—debunks the urban legend that increases in federal student aid drive up college tuition. In fact, a study by Coopers and Lybrand found that as the level of Pell Grant funding increased, the rate of tuition increases slowed.

The financial assistance that private colleges give students through institutional aid programs is massive. In 2002-03, students at private colleges (which enroll the same percentage of Pell Grant recipients as public four-year institutions) received more than four times as much grant aid--$11 billion—from their institutions as from the federal government.

These institutional aid budgets grew more than twice as fast as tuition in the past decade, (197 percent to 86 percent, respectively), helping to control increases in student out-of-pocket costs.

A recent U.S. Department of Education study showed that the average amount that full-time undergraduates at private institutions paid in tuition after receiving grants did not increase from 1992 to 1999, after adjusting for inflation. In fact, it decreased by $100.

The groundbreaking G.I. Bill and Higher Education Act have proven the power of federal student aid has to promote college opportunity, social mobility, and the nation’s economic development. In the past 60 years, millions of Americans from all walks of life have earned college degrees because of the opportunities provided by the federal investment in student aid.

An investment in student aid is an investment in the improvement of our society. With each college graduate we see a society less burdened by crime, welfare, and poverty. An investment in students is an investment in the solution to those problems for all of us.

Our knowledge-based economy demands more college graduates. Our nation’s security rests on scientific and technological innovation. The number of low-income college-age students is beginning to skyrocket. Our nation cannot afford to return to the days when family income determined where, and if, you went to college. The moral and social fabric of America is strengthened when all students have equal opportunity to attend the institution that best serves their needs.

More—not less—support of federal student aid by our nation’s policymakers and opinion leaders will keep America strong and healthy.

Sincerely,

David L. Warren
President
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

Letters to the Editor
Boston Globe

To the Editor:

Jeff Jacoby would not pass a class in introductory higher education economics or 20th-century American history (“Making college affordable,” February 10).

Every piece of empirical evidence that exists—from the U.S. Department of Education, independent consultants, and higher education economists—debunks the urban legend that increases in federal student aid drive up college tuition. In fact, a study by Coopers and Lybrand found that as the level of Pell Grant funding increased, the rate of tuition increases slowed.

The financial assistance that private colleges give students through institutional aid programs is massive. In 2002-03, students at private colleges (which enroll the same percentage of Pell Grant recipients as public four-year institutions) received more than four times as much grant aid--$11 billion—from their institutions as from the federal government.

These institutional aid budgets grew more than twice as fast as tuition in the past decade, (197 percent to 86 percent, respectively), helping to control increases in student out-of-pocket costs.

A recent U.S. Department of Education study showed that the average amount that full-time undergraduates at private institutions paid in tuition after receiving grants did not increase from 1992 to 1999, after adjusting for inflation. In fact, it decreased by $100.

The groundbreaking G.I. Bill and Higher Education Act have proven the power of federal student aid has to promote college opportunity, social mobility, and the nation’s economic development. In the past 60 years, millions of Americans from all walks of life have earned college degrees because of the opportunities provided by the federal investment in student aid.

An investment in student aid is an investment in the improvement of our society. With each college graduate we see a society less burdened by crime, welfare, and poverty. An investment in students is an investment in the solution to those problems for all of us.

Our knowledge-based economy demands more college graduates. Our nation’s security rests on scientific and technological innovation. The number of low-income college-age students is beginning to skyrocket. Our nation cannot afford to return to the days when family income determined where, and if, you went to college. The moral and social fabric of America is strengthened when all students have equal opportunity to attend the institution that best serves their needs.

More—not less—support of federal student aid by our nation’s policymakers and opinion leaders will keep America strong and healthy.

Sincerely,

David L. Warren
President
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

February 10, 2005

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Letter to the New York Times

Letter to the New York Times

September 28, 2004

Letters to the Editor
New York Times

To the Editor:

It is an urban legend that colleges and universities are not doing their part to encourage students to register and vote (“Barriers to Student Voting,” September 28). The Times’ claim that institutions are not giving students opportunities to fully engage in the electoral process bears no resemblance to the real activities under way on college campuses. Visit a college campus during the next few weeks, and observe the opportunities to register and engage in civic life and participatory democracy. You will find a level of involvement unmatched elsewhere in society, and dramatically at odds with your conclusion.

The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities conducted a survey of our 930 member institutions last week, which found dramatically different results than the Harvard Institute of Politics/Chronicle of Higher Education study. More than 450 institutions responded to our blind survey. Fully 95 percent have undertaken a campus-wide voter registration effort. A survey by the American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers—the people on campus directly responsible for following the HEA mandate—found that 99 percent of institutions are making various efforts to promote voter registration. (AACRAO’s survey results can be read at http://www.aacrao.org/federal_relations/position/miller.htm.)

In fact, higher education institutions across the nation are going far beyond the letter of the law. A wealth of examples is available at http://www.naicu.edu/VoteVoice2004/activities.htm.

Colleges and universities are currently engaged in campus-wide voter registration, education, and motivation activities, as the school year gets under way and America focuses on the election. They have distributed forms to students in registration and orientation packets; voter registration drives are under way in student unions and residence halls; administrators are sending voter registration information and web links to all campus e-mail accounts; political speakers, issue forums, and mock debates are filling campus calendars; and students are bringing polling places to campus.

Since 1996 (two federal election cycles before registration efforts were required by law), the National Campus Voter Registration Project has given public and private institutions across the United States information and tools for registering students, educating them about the issues and candidates, and getting them to the polls on Election Day. In 2004 alone, this project—a nonpartisan effort sponsored by NAICU and 47 other major Washington-based higher education associations—has distributed 15,000 copies of its guide for voter registration and engagement to every institution in the nation.

Through the ambitious efforts of colleges and universities and our partner organizations, such as Rock the Vote and Youth Vote, millions of students have registered for the first time. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 87 percent of all college students registered to vote in 2000—a rate that is significantly higher than the general population. All indications are that as many, if not more, will register in this election.

Sincerely,

David L. Warren
President
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities Washington, DC

Letters to the Editor
New York Times

To the Editor:

It is an urban legend that colleges and universities are not doing their part to encourage students to register and vote (“Barriers to Student Voting,” September 28). The Times’ claim that institutions are not giving students opportunities to fully engage in the electoral process bears no resemblance to the real activities under way on college campuses. Visit a college campus during the next few weeks, and observe the opportunities to register and engage in civic life and participatory democracy. You will find a level of involvement unmatched elsewhere in society, and dramatically at odds with your conclusion.

The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities conducted a survey of our 930 member institutions last week, which found dramatically different results than the Harvard Institute of Politics/Chronicle of Higher Education study. More than 450 institutions responded to our blind survey. Fully 95 percent have undertaken a campus-wide voter registration effort. A survey by the American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers—the people on campus directly responsible for following the HEA mandate—found that 99 percent of institutions are making various efforts to promote voter registration. (AACRAO’s survey results can be read at http://www.aacrao.org/federal_relations/position/miller.htm.)

In fact, higher education institutions across the nation are going far beyond the letter of the law. A wealth of examples is available at http://www.naicu.edu/VoteVoice2004/activities.htm.

Colleges and universities are currently engaged in campus-wide voter registration, education, and motivation activities, as the school year gets under way and America focuses on the election. They have distributed forms to students in registration and orientation packets; voter registration drives are under way in student unions and residence halls; administrators are sending voter registration information and web links to all campus e-mail accounts; political speakers, issue forums, and mock debates are filling campus calendars; and students are bringing polling places to campus.

Since 1996 (two federal election cycles before registration efforts were required by law), the National Campus Voter Registration Project has given public and private institutions across the United States information and tools for registering students, educating them about the issues and candidates, and getting them to the polls on Election Day. In 2004 alone, this project—a nonpartisan effort sponsored by NAICU and 47 other major Washington-based higher education associations—has distributed 15,000 copies of its guide for voter registration and engagement to every institution in the nation.

Through the ambitious efforts of colleges and universities and our partner organizations, such as Rock the Vote and Youth Vote, millions of students have registered for the first time. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 87 percent of all college students registered to vote in 2000—a rate that is significantly higher than the general population. All indications are that as many, if not more, will register in this election.

Sincerely,

David L. Warren
President
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities Washington, DC

September 28, 2004

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About the items posted on the NAICU site: News items, features, and opinion pieces posted on this site from sources outside NAICU do not necessarily reflect the position of the association or its members. Rather, this content reflects the diversity of issues and views that are shaping American higher education.

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