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Mon Sep 28, 2020, 10:25 AM

How to Save Higher Education (Washington Monthly)

How to Save Higher Education

A New Deal for America’s sinking colleges.

by Kevin Carey

There has never been a crisis in American higher education like the one we are facing today. While fall enrollment numbers are still in flux as colleges scramble to deal with an out-of-control pandemic, there is no question that all but the wealthiest institutions are facing deep financial pain and potential catastrophe. Even relatively conservative estimates like those published by the college financial planning firm Edmit suggest that, thanks to declining revenue and investment returns, one-third of all private colleges are now on track to run out of money within six years—a nearly 50 percent increase in estimates from 2019—and many are vulnerable to bankruptcy much sooner. Public universities, meanwhile, are about to be hammered by steep cuts in government funding, forcing them to raise prices, cut services, and turn away students, including millions of newly unemployed workers.

The higher education system was weak before the coronavirus hit. Thanks to long-term enrollment declines, recent years have already seen a spate of small-college bankruptcies, each a minor tragedy of shocked students, heartsick alumni, and another town or city suddenly without a vital institution whose generational roots were somehow not deep enough. Many regional public universities had been steadily drained of vitality as state budget cuts accumulated, year after year.

But COVID-19 has turbocharged all of these trends, with serious consequences for America’s most vulnerable. Low-income and first-generation students, immigrants, and people of color will be more likely to delay going to college or to drop out. Because colleges will charge more and families will have less, many more students will take out loans and, with diplomas or without, end up in default, widening economic inequality and the racial wealth gap. For many poorer communities, colleges have been like stubborn plants, protecting them from the erosion of globalization and economic disruption. When their schools close, it will further social decay.

The need for college won’t go away, however, particularly with widespread unemployment. For-profit colleges backed by private equity will surge into the gap, using aggressive and deceptive marketing tactics to sign up naive students who will pay outsized tuition with no-questions-asked loans from the U.S. Department of Education. Much of that debt will never be repaid, ruining credit, wasting lives, and costing taxpayers billions.

Many of these calamities can and should be mitigated in the short run by a sufficiently large federal rescue package. But even that will leave the system significantly worse than it was pre-pandemic: diminished, sclerotic, and vulnerable to the next unforeseen disaster. A fundamentally different policy architecture is needed for American higher education, and the best time to build it is now. This essay describes how that plan would work.
more: https://washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/september-october-2020/how-to-save-higher-education/?campaign_id=9&emc=edit_nn_20200917&instance_id=22266&nl=the-morning®i_id=81904417§ion_index=1§ion_name=big_story&segment_id=38344&te=1&user_id=cbf876d4d6aa4869bb72862a58731bff

Quite a long read, and you may not agree with all of it. But the background info is enlightening, and may change your thoughts about the programs that some, like Sanders and Warren, are pushing. Clearly, something needs to be done about the state of American education, and we need to be analyzing the problem as thoroughly and impartially as we can.

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Reply How to Save Higher Education (Washington Monthly) (Original post)
eppur_se_muova Sep 28 OP
appalachiablue Sep 29 #1
lagomorph777 Sep 29 #2

Response to eppur_se_muova (Original post)

Tue Sep 29, 2020, 12:50 AM

1. Tx for posting on this impt. issue, higher educ needs real help

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Response to eppur_se_muova (Original post)

Tue Sep 29, 2020, 09:58 AM

2. Education, like everything else in the world, will go more digital, or die.

The model they've built over the past few centuries is untenable in this world. They've priced themselves out, in a world where most of the wealth goes to the top, and most normal people can't pay for their expensive service.

Education must become more accessible and students have to see a financial benefit to it, or it simply will not happen.

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