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NAICU Letter to USA Today

NAICU Letter to USA Today

March 31, 2009

Letters to the Editor
USA Today

To the Editor:

I was stunned that USA Today would ignore the significant sacrifices private colleges and universities are making to keep student out-of-pocket costs as low as possible during these tough times ("Colleges duck tough cuts, keep hiking pay and tuition," editorial, March 30).

Despite the economic downturn, 92 percent of private colleges and universities are increasing their student aid budgets for next year. Based on the 250 private colleges and universities so far that have reported 2009-10 tuition and student aid data to NAICU, the average increase in institutional grants and scholarships is 9.2 percent. At the same time, private colleges are on track to record the lowest average increase in tuition and fees in at least 37 years-4.2 percent, which is just slightly higher than the 3.8 percent rate of inflation in 2008.

In the past 10 years, private colleges have increased student aid by 250 percent, more than twice the 72 percent increase in tuition, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Thanks to generous student aid programs, nearly nine out of 10 students at private colleges pay less than list price.

College endowments have dropped by 24 percent in the past six months, and fund raising has decreased dramatically, so how are private colleges able to boost student aid while keeping tuition increases to historical lows? They are transferring cost savings from other budget areas. As of December, half reported that they had frozen hiring, slowed existing construction projects, and restricted staff travel. Forty-percent had scaled back salary increases and delayed campus maintenance. One in five had frozen salaries and cancelled planned construction projects. All of these percentages have increased in the past four months.

Fortunately, while higher education is facing severe budget pressures, it has avoided the mass layoffs that have hit the news industry. Through smart, strategic budget management, private colleges have boosted financial aid, lowered tuition increases, and protected academic quality. These are difficult times for private colleges, our students, and their families, but we are fully committed to ensuring that our institutions remain in reach for students from all backgrounds.

Sincerely,

David L. Warren
President
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
Washington, D.C.
Letters to the Editor
USA Today

To the Editor:

I was stunned that USA Today would ignore the significant sacrifices private colleges and universities are making to keep student out-of-pocket costs as low as possible during these tough times ("Colleges duck tough cuts, keep hiking pay and tuition," editorial, March 30).

Despite the economic downturn, 92 percent of private colleges and universities are increasing their student aid budgets for next year. Based on the 250 private colleges and universities so far that have reported 2009-10 tuition and student aid data to NAICU, the average increase in institutional grants and scholarships is 9.2 percent. At the same time, private colleges are on track to record the lowest average increase in tuition and fees in at least 37 years-4.2 percent, which is just slightly higher than the 3.8 percent rate of inflation in 2008.

In the past 10 years, private colleges have increased student aid by 250 percent, more than twice the 72 percent increase in tuition, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Thanks to generous student aid programs, nearly nine out of 10 students at private colleges pay less than list price.

College endowments have dropped by 24 percent in the past six months, and fund raising has decreased dramatically, so how are private colleges able to boost student aid while keeping tuition increases to historical lows? They are transferring cost savings from other budget areas. As of December, half reported that they had frozen hiring, slowed existing construction projects, and restricted staff travel. Forty-percent had scaled back salary increases and delayed campus maintenance. One in five had frozen salaries and cancelled planned construction projects. All of these percentages have increased in the past four months.

Fortunately, while higher education is facing severe budget pressures, it has avoided the mass layoffs that have hit the news industry. Through smart, strategic budget management, private colleges have boosted financial aid, lowered tuition increases, and protected academic quality. These are difficult times for private colleges, our students, and their families, but we are fully committed to ensuring that our institutions remain in reach for students from all backgrounds.

Sincerely,

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

March 31, 2009

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NAICU Letter to the Chronicle of Higher Education

NAICU Letter to the Chronicle of Higher Education

March 23, 2009

Letters to the Editor
Chronicle of Higher Education

To the Editor:

Diane Auer Jones is a fair and independent thinker, and a friend of all sectors of higher education.  However, on the issue of a federal student unit record database, she does not fully understand the policy concerns of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (“Washington Has Failed the Workhorses of American Higher Education,” commentary, March 27).

There is a legitimate privacy question here, and to dismiss NAICU’s motives as being otherwise diminishes the very real changes in privacy policy that have emerged as these databases are built throughout the nation. 

Many of the students at private colleges and universities are nontraditional: 29 percent work full-time; 77 percent work part-time; 26 percent attend part-time; 30 percent are age 25 or older; and 48 percent are first-generation.  At-risk students are much more likely to graduate in four years at a private college than at a public university.  We are confident that under a federal student unit record database, our institutions’ completion rates would be similarly higher. 

However, this is a fundamental privacy question that focuses on who controls access to personal academic and financial data: students and their families, or state and federal governments.  NAICU's position has been to stand by the principles set down by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  Adult students and parents of minor students are the ones who retain first control over personally identifiable academic and financial records. 

Under FERPA, individual students must be informed of the government’s intent, give consent, and have the right to opt out of any use of personal academic or financial records outside of their college or university.  Proponents of the federal student unit record database have told us that applying the FERPA guidelines would be “too hard” and that too many families would not give consent. 

NAICU has never objected to tracking federal aid recipients, since they voluntarily fill out the FAFSA, and turn over their confidential information as a part of the application process.  Student unit record systems currently under development track all students, even those not receiving federal aid, and neither inform families nor give them an opt-out option.

NAICU agrees with Ms. Jones that better completion data is needed.  In December 2002, prior to Margaret Spellings talking the helm at the Education Department, and before the idea of a federal student database had gathered steam, NAICU submitted a proposal asking for the department to improve its student aid tracking system for graduation rate purposes. 

We also agree that community colleges, with their focus on universal access and affordability, are a vital component of U.S. higher education.  However, sacrificing student and family privacy rights for an all-encompassing federal tracking system is a policy trade off we don’t believe is in the best interest of students, their families, or the nation. 

Sincerely,

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

Letters to the Editor
Chronicle of Higher Education

To the Editor:

Diane Auer Jones is a fair and independent thinker, and a friend of all sectors of higher education.  However, on the issue of a federal student unit record database, she does not fully understand the policy concerns of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (“Washington Has Failed the Workhorses of American Higher Education,” commentary, March 27).

There is a legitimate privacy question here, and to dismiss NAICU’s motives as being otherwise diminishes the very real changes in privacy policy that have emerged as these databases are built throughout the nation. 

Many of the students at private colleges and universities are nontraditional: 29 percent work full-time; 77 percent work part-time; 26 percent attend part-time; 30 percent are age 25 or older; and 48 percent are first-generation.  At-risk students are much more likely to graduate in four years at a private college than at a public university.  We are confident that under a federal student unit record database, our institutions’ completion rates would be similarly higher. 

However, this is a fundamental privacy question that focuses on who controls access to personal academic and financial data: students and their families, or state and federal governments.  NAICU's position has been to stand by the principles set down by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  Adult students and parents of minor students are the ones who retain first control over personally identifiable academic and financial records. 

Under FERPA, individual students must be informed of the government’s intent, give consent, and have the right to opt out of any use of personal academic or financial records outside of their college or university.  Proponents of the federal student unit record database have told us that applying the FERPA guidelines would be “too hard” and that too many families would not give consent. 

NAICU has never objected to tracking federal aid recipients, since they voluntarily fill out the FAFSA, and turn over their confidential information as a part of the application process.  Student unit record systems currently under development track all students, even those not receiving federal aid, and neither inform families nor give them an opt-out option.

NAICU agrees with Ms. Jones that better completion data is needed.  In December 2002, prior to Margaret Spellings talking the helm at the Education Department, and before the idea of a federal student database had gathered steam, NAICU submitted a proposal asking for the department to improve its student aid tracking system for graduation rate purposes. 

We also agree that community colleges, with their focus on universal access and affordability, are a vital component of U.S. higher education.  However, sacrificing student and family privacy rights for an all-encompassing federal tracking system is a policy trade off we don’t believe is in the best interest of students, their families, or the nation. 

Sincerely,

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

March 23, 2009

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NAICU Letter Printed in the Western Washington Front

NAICU Letter Printed in the Western Washington Front

July 28, 2008

Letters to the Editor
The Western Front

To the Editor:

Stephen Nichols offers the perfect prescription for making American higher education unaffordable and inaccessible — that is, by cutting federal student aid programs ("Government subsidizing hurts tuition," July 22). Every piece of existing empirical evidence refutes the claim that federal student aid feeds college tuition increases.

Two U.S. Department of Education studies have shown that there are "no associations between federal grants, state grants, and student loans, and changes in tuition," and "there is little evidence that federal student aid increases have contributed to tuition inflation."

The erosion of federal student aid this decade has become an additional strain on college budgets as institutions attempt to fill the gap. Congress has not kept funding for student aid in line with inflation, growing family need or the wave of low-income and first-generation college students who are academically prepared for college. Federal student aid has made college possible for students from all backgrounds for 40 years. Add a federal deinvestment in student aid to rising institutional cost pressures and growing student need, and you've created a recipe for financial disaster for students and their families.

Sincerely, 

Tony Pals
Director of Public Information
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
Washington, D.C.

Letters to the Editor
The Western Front

To the Editor:

Stephen Nichols offers the perfect prescription for making American higher education unaffordable and inaccessible — that is, by cutting federal student aid programs ("Government subsidizing hurts tuition," July 22). Every piece of existing empirical evidence refutes the claim that federal student aid feeds college tuition increases.

Two U.S. Department of Education studies have shown that there are "no associations between federal grants, state grants, and student loans, and changes in tuition," and "there is little evidence that federal student aid increases have contributed to tuition inflation."

The erosion of federal student aid this decade has become an additional strain on college budgets as institutions attempt to fill the gap. Congress has not kept funding for student aid in line with inflation, growing family need or the wave of low-income and first-generation college students who are academically prepared for college. Federal student aid has made college possible for students from all backgrounds for 40 years. Add a federal deinvestment in student aid to rising institutional cost pressures and growing student need, and you've created a recipe for financial disaster for students and their families.

Sincerely, 

Tony Pals
Director of Public Information
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
Washington, D.C.

July 28, 2008

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College Loans Are Least of Government's Problems

College Loans Are Least of Government's Problems

April 30, 2008

The April 24 editorial "Bailout of the Year" ignores the free lunch opportunity of a federal intervention in the student-loan market.
The April 24 editorial "Bailout of the Year" ignores the free lunch opportunity of a federal intervention in the student-loan market.

April 30, 2008

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Our view on higher education: Leave endowments alone

Our view on higher education: Leave endowments alone

March 27, 2008

Best to hold onto some money for the even rainier days to come, and best for Congress to look elsewhere if it wants to help.
Best to hold onto some money for the even rainier days to come, and best for Congress to look elsewhere if it wants to help.

March 27, 2008

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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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