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Aid to College Students

Aid to College Students

March 26, 2008

Timothy Egan’s dismissal of the unprecedented round of new student aid initiatives at private colleges and universities as cosmetic belies any reasonable interpretation of the word and calls for a reality check (“The Lords of Higher Learning,” column, March 18).
Timothy Egan’s dismissal of the unprecedented round of new student aid initiatives at private colleges and universities as cosmetic belies any reasonable interpretation of the word and calls for a reality check (“The Lords of Higher Learning,” column, March 18).

March 26, 2008

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NAICU Letter to Forbes

NAICU Letter to Forbes

November 28, 2007

Letters to the Editor
Forbes

To the Editor:

Alex Davidson misses crucial differences between higher education and the for-profit business world ("Economics 101," November 12). Unlike makers of automobiles and household applicances, the nation's private, nonprofit colleges and universities provide the same quality of "product" to their students, without regard to their income. But low- and middle-income students are not the only ones subsized. The 13 percent of our students who pay full sticker price are too. The average price of tuition at our schools covers only two-thirds of the cost to the institution to provide an education.

Economies of scale that make sense in the for-profit manufacturing and service sectors would render American higher education useless. Replacing the personal attention and engagement found on private college campuses with DVDs and 500-student classes taught by graduate students would eviserate the educational experience. Study upon study has shown that the more engaged students are in the classrooms and with faculty and administrators outside of the class, the more likely they are to succeed in college and to graduate on time. It is illogical to compare the process for most effectively preparing tomorrow's scientists, teachers, health professionals, and community leaders with the models used to most efficiently provide fast-food or cell phone service to consumers.

Nevertheless, in cases where quality of education or access for students won't be sacrificed, private colleges nationwide are revamping their business practices to press costs down and improve administrative efficiency. Our institutions are entering into consortial arrangements to reduce administrative and academic redundancies, and leverage their purchasing power to obtain lower costs for energy, insurance, information technology, and other services. Consortial activities have recently been taken nationwide through the Coalition for College Cost Savings. Private colleges in 11 states are working jointly to develop and implement cost containment strategies. Private institutions also are outsourcing campus services, such as grounds and facilities maintenance, alumni relations operations, residence hall management, billing and other back-office  functions, and bookstores. They are turning to environmentally friendly systems to lower energy consumption; streamlining staff; and consolidating offices and programs to enhance efficiency. On the other side of the ledger, private institutions are increasing the revenue they receive through non-tuition sources, including philanthropic giving, and the selling and renting out of underused campus-owned facilities and properties. These efforts are helping to reduce the pressure to raise tuition at a faster pace. Consequently, five-year tuition growth at private colleges is at its lowest level since 1982.

Finally, every piece of empirical evidence--including studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Education--clearly indicates that there is not a causal relationship between increases in federal student aid and increases in tuition. What may seem like common sense has been invalidated by quantitative research. Congress is still working to make up for five consecutive years of federal cuts in student aid early in the decade. To further reduce funding would spike tuition increases as institutions struggled to stay accessible for the nation's increasingly needy student population. Certainly, this is not Davidson's intended outcome.

Sincerely,

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

 

Letters to the Editor
Forbes

To the Editor:

Alex Davidson misses crucial differences between higher education and the for-profit business world ("Economics 101," November 12). Unlike makers of automobiles and household applicances, the nation's private, nonprofit colleges and universities provide the same quality of "product" to their students, without regard to their income. But low- and middle-income students are not the only ones subsized. The 13 percent of our students who pay full sticker price are too. The average price of tuition at our schools covers only two-thirds of the cost to the institution to provide an education.

Economies of scale that make sense in the for-profit manufacturing and service sectors would render American higher education useless. Replacing the personal attention and engagement found on private college campuses with DVDs and 500-student classes taught by graduate students would eviserate the educational experience. Study upon study has shown that the more engaged students are in the classrooms and with faculty and administrators outside of the class, the more likely they are to succeed in college and to graduate on time. It is illogical to compare the process for most effectively preparing tomorrow's scientists, teachers, health professionals, and community leaders with the models used to most efficiently provide fast-food or cell phone service to consumers.

Nevertheless, in cases where quality of education or access for students won't be sacrificed, private colleges nationwide are revamping their business practices to press costs down and improve administrative efficiency. Our institutions are entering into consortial arrangements to reduce administrative and academic redundancies, and leverage their purchasing power to obtain lower costs for energy, insurance, information technology, and other services. Consortial activities have recently been taken nationwide through the Coalition for College Cost Savings. Private colleges in 11 states are working jointly to develop and implement cost containment strategies. Private institutions also are outsourcing campus services, such as grounds and facilities maintenance, alumni relations operations, residence hall management, billing and other back-office  functions, and bookstores. They are turning to environmentally friendly systems to lower energy consumption; streamlining staff; and consolidating offices and programs to enhance efficiency. On the other side of the ledger, private institutions are increasing the revenue they receive through non-tuition sources, including philanthropic giving, and the selling and renting out of underused campus-owned facilities and properties. These efforts are helping to reduce the pressure to raise tuition at a faster pace. Consequently, five-year tuition growth at private colleges is at its lowest level since 1982.

Finally, every piece of empirical evidence--including studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Education--clearly indicates that there is not a causal relationship between increases in federal student aid and increases in tuition. What may seem like common sense has been invalidated by quantitative research. Congress is still working to make up for five consecutive years of federal cuts in student aid early in the decade. To further reduce funding would spike tuition increases as institutions struggled to stay accessible for the nation's increasingly needy student population. Certainly, this is not Davidson's intended outcome.

Sincerely,

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

 

November 28, 2007

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Letter Printed in the Washington Times

Letter Printed in the Washington Times

October 29, 2007

Letters to the Editor

Overlooked in your story about transparency in higher education ("Colleges to let public glimpse insider data," Nation, Tuesday) was the recently initiated U-CAN college consumer Web site. The University and College Accountability Network (www.ucan-network.org), made available by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) on Sept. 26, gives prospective students and parents free, user-friendly and concise consumer information on hundreds of private institutions. The content and format of the Web site were shaped by focus groups with consumers.

For each participating school, U-CAN provides statistical and narrative information, including average price of attendance and net tuition, five-year tuition trends, graduation rates, average loan debt and more. Unlike the project under consideration by our public-sector colleagues, U-CAN provides access to every college profile from one central Web site. Already, there have been more than 400,000 page views by prospective students and their parents, and by public policy and political officials.

A link from each U-CAN profile takes visitors to a description of academic achievement on the institution's own Web site. Each school decides for itself what information to provide. It could be National Survey of Student Engagement data, alumni satisfaction survey results, Graduate Record Examination scores, the results of an institution-designed measure or something completely different.

The NAICU supports the choice by any college or university to develop and use learning outcome measures. What we oppose is the prescription of learning outcomes by legislative or regulatory action, rather than by an institution's voluntary choice.

There's a faulty premise that underlies the crusade by Arthur Rothkopf and others to impose standardized learning measures on higher education: That there's homogeneity in the academic missions and educational programs across the nation's 7,000 colleges and universities. Attempting to find a common standard of measure for major research universities, liberal arts colleges, rabbinical schools, Southern Baptist institutions and the rest of the incredibly diverse private sector is a fool's errand.

Even worse is the underlying belief by Mr. Rothkopf and others that the federal government should have authority to dictate to private institutions and state universities how to gauge student performance. Bureaucrats should not be allowed to strip away this fundamental component of institutional self-government. Student learning, academic quality and educational performance would all be damaged by such unprecedented action.

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

Letters to the Editor

Overlooked in your story about transparency in higher education ("Colleges to let public glimpse insider data," Nation, Tuesday) was the recently initiated U-CAN college consumer Web site. The University and College Accountability Network (www.ucan-network.org), made available by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) on Sept. 26, gives prospective students and parents free, user-friendly and concise consumer information on hundreds of private institutions. The content and format of the Web site were shaped by focus groups with consumers.

For each participating school, U-CAN provides statistical and narrative information, including average price of attendance and net tuition, five-year tuition trends, graduation rates, average loan debt and more. Unlike the project under consideration by our public-sector colleagues, U-CAN provides access to every college profile from one central Web site. Already, there have been more than 400,000 page views by prospective students and their parents, and by public policy and political officials.

A link from each U-CAN profile takes visitors to a description of academic achievement on the institution's own Web site. Each school decides for itself what information to provide. It could be National Survey of Student Engagement data, alumni satisfaction survey results, Graduate Record Examination scores, the results of an institution-designed measure or something completely different.

The NAICU supports the choice by any college or university to develop and use learning outcome measures. What we oppose is the prescription of learning outcomes by legislative or regulatory action, rather than by an institution's voluntary choice.

There's a faulty premise that underlies the crusade by Arthur Rothkopf and others to impose standardized learning measures on higher education: That there's homogeneity in the academic missions and educational programs across the nation's 7,000 colleges and universities. Attempting to find a common standard of measure for major research universities, liberal arts colleges, rabbinical schools, Southern Baptist institutions and the rest of the incredibly diverse private sector is a fool's errand.

Even worse is the underlying belief by Mr. Rothkopf and others that the federal government should have authority to dictate to private institutions and state universities how to gauge student performance. Bureaucrats should not be allowed to strip away this fundamental component of institutional self-government. Student learning, academic quality and educational performance would all be damaged by such unprecedented action.

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

October 29, 2007

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Letter Printed in the Chronicle of Higher Education

Letter Printed in the Chronicle of Higher Education

October 19, 2007

October 19, 2007

To the Editor:

Because of the great significance of learning-outcomes assessment in Washington and on campuses across the nation, I believe it's important to lay out clearly the position of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities ("A Year Later, Spellings Report Still Makes Ripples," The Chronicle, September 28).

We support the choice by any college or university to develop and use learning-outcome measures consistent with its mission. What we oppose is the prescription of learning outcomes by legislative or regulatory action, rather than by an institution's choice.

The private-higher-education sector is incredibly diverse, representing many different types of missions, student profiles, sizes, and academic offerings. As a result, private institutions rely on a wide array of measurement tools — including the National Survey of Student Engagement, the Collegiate Learning Assessment, portfolios, comprehensive exams, senior surveys, capstone papers, … and so on — many of them internally designed to best fit an institution's mission.

Mandating — by legislation or regulation — standardized learning-outcome tools ignores the reality of institutional mission; it simply would not capture the work of the nation's 1,600 private colleges and universities. Bureaucrats should not be allowed to strip away this fundamental component of institutional self-government. Student learning, academic quality, and educational performance would all be damaged by such unprecedented action.

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

October 19, 2007

To the Editor:

Because of the great significance of learning-outcomes assessment in Washington and on campuses across the nation, I believe it's important to lay out clearly the position of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities ("A Year Later, Spellings Report Still Makes Ripples," The Chronicle, September 28).

We support the choice by any college or university to develop and use learning-outcome measures consistent with its mission. What we oppose is the prescription of learning outcomes by legislative or regulatory action, rather than by an institution's choice.

The private-higher-education sector is incredibly diverse, representing many different types of missions, student profiles, sizes, and academic offerings. As a result, private institutions rely on a wide array of measurement tools — including the National Survey of Student Engagement, the Collegiate Learning Assessment, portfolios, comprehensive exams, senior surveys, capstone papers, … and so on — many of them internally designed to best fit an institution's mission.

Mandating — by legislation or regulation — standardized learning-outcome tools ignores the reality of institutional mission; it simply would not capture the work of the nation's 1,600 private colleges and universities. Bureaucrats should not be allowed to strip away this fundamental component of institutional self-government. Student learning, academic quality, and educational performance would all be damaged by such unprecedented action.

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

October 19, 2007

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Letter to the Macon, Ga., Telegraph

Letter to the Macon, Ga., Telegraph

October 16, 2007

Letters to the Editor
Macon Telegraph

To the Editor:

I would add one more tool to your helpful list of college search resources ("Good research can aid college search," Oct. 15). Prospective students and their families should tap the free U-CAN web site (www.ucan-network.org) for free, reader-friendly information about private colleges and universities. The online tool provides access to nearly 500 colorful and graphics-rich college profiles, which include key data and a rich array of hyperlinks to specific pages on institution web sites -- all provided in an easy-to-compare common format. Each college's two-page profile gives information on tuition, student aid, loan debt, enrollment, and many other important variables. With the click of one of each profile's 25 buttons, users can go directly to topic-specific college web pages that deal with internship opportunities, intercollegiate or intramural athletics, campus groups, or any of many other aspects of campus and academic life. In the search for the best college selection, U-CAN makes a difference.

Sincerely,

David L. Warren
President
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
Letters to the Editor
Macon Telegraph

To the Editor:

I would add one more tool to your helpful list of college search resources ("Good research can aid college search," Oct. 15). Prospective students and their families should tap the free U-CAN web site (www.ucan-network.org) for free, reader-friendly information about private colleges and universities. The online tool provides access to nearly 500 colorful and graphics-rich college profiles, which include key data and a rich array of hyperlinks to specific pages on institution web sites -- all provided in an easy-to-compare common format. Each college's two-page profile gives information on tuition, student aid, loan debt, enrollment, and many other important variables. With the click of one of each profile's 25 buttons, users can go directly to topic-specific college web pages that deal with internship opportunities, intercollegiate or intramural athletics, campus groups, or any of many other aspects of campus and academic life. In the search for the best college selection, U-CAN makes a difference.

Sincerely,

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

October 16, 2007

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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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