Obama wants lower college costs, higher dropout age — from edweek.org by Alyson Klein



Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

President Obama gave college affordability a prominent place in his domestic agenda during his annual State of the Union address, calling directly on universities to hold down costs in order to make higher education more accessible to the middle class. He outlined a set of proposals that include threatening universities with a loss of federal money if they are unable to tamp down tuition.

“Let me put colleges and universities on notice: If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down,” Obama said in his hour-long address. He didn’t offer specifics, however, and the blueprint document the White House sent out to accompany the speech didn’t get specific either. But advocates expect him to lay out more concrete details in the coming days.


State higher education spending sees big decline — from HuffingtonPost.com by Christine Armario


MIAMI — State funding for higher education has declined because of a slow recovery from the recession and the end of federal stimulus money, according to a study released Monday.

Overall, spending declined by some $6 billion, or nearly 8 percent, over the past year, according to the annual Grapevine study by the Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University. The reduction was slightly lower, at 4 percent, when money lost from the end of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act was not taken into account.

The funding reductions, seen across nearly every state, have resulted in larger class sizes and fewer course offerings at many universities and come as enrollment continues to rise.


Beware: Alternative certification is coming — from The Chronicle by Richard Vedder

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

As college costs rise, however, people are asking: Aren’t there cheaper ways of certifying competence and skills to employers? Employers like the current system, because the huge (often over $100,000) cost of demonstrating competency is borne by the student, not by them. Employers seemingly have little incentive to look for alternative certification. That is why reformers like me cannot get employer organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to take alternative certification seriously. But if companies can find good employees with high-school diplomas who have demonstrated necessary skills and competency via some cheaper (to society) means, they might be able to hire workers more cheaply than before–paying wages that are high by high-school-graduate standards, but low relative to college-graduate norms. Employers can capture the huge savings of reduced certification costs. And students avoid huge debt, get four years more time in the labor force, and do not face the risks of not getting through college. Since millions of college grads have jobs which really do not use skills developed in college anyhow, alternative certification is more attractive than ever.

Addendums on 1/26:

  • President Obama: ‘Higher education can’t be a luxury – it is an economic imperative’ — from annarbor.com by Ryan Stanton
  • Survey finds that dwindling financial aid contributes to fewer college options — from the NYT by Daniel Slotnik
    College freshmen entering school last fall were less likely to attend their first choice of college, a function of both competition and cost, than at any other time since 1974, and fewer received financial aid through grants or scholarships, according to an annual survey of nearly 204,000 high school students.
  • Pressure remains for higher education: Moody’s — from Reuters
    The financial conditions of many U.S. colleges and universities will likely not improve much this year, as states continue cutting funding for public schools, students become more price sensitive, and areas for other revenue remain stretched, a lead rating agency said on Monday.  “During the past year, public and political scrutiny of colleges and universities, both not-for-profit and for-profit, has escalated and we expect that the sector will remain under the microscope in 2012 and beyond,” said Moody’s Investors Services in a report outlining why it is maintaining a “mixed outlook for U.S. not-for-profit private and public colleges and universities, mirroring our 2011 outlook.”

American Association of University Professors -- Program Closures


The financial crisis that began in 2008 and the ensuing reductions in state support for higher education have led to devastating cuts at colleges and universities across the country. A growing number of institutions are eliminating majors, graduate programs, or even entire departments; the map above tracks program closures that have been reported in the media since the start of the crisis.

This map is not comprehensive. It is designed solely to highlight media coverage of program closures, which is sometimes flawed and can quickly become outdated, and does not reflect the ongoing casework of the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure.

Excerpts from An open letter to university administrators by Clayton Christensen

Defending the status quo is futile, and it’s no fun. Given fiscal realities beyond the control of university administrators, defending the operational status quo means choosing between big, focused cuts or death by a thousand small ones. Trading up to a larger school offers no escape from the grisly task of doing less with less.

Clinging to tradition will worsen individual and institutional disruption, while embracing innovation will hasten a new era of higher education productivity—not only of well-educated degree holders, but of new knowledge.

 Also see:


BERKELEY, Calif. — Across the nation, a historic collapse in state funding for higher education threatens to diminish the stature of premier public universities and erode their mission as engines of upward social mobility.

As of 11/20/11 (~2:00pm EST)


As of 8/24/11:



From DSC:
With the increase in globalization — and from what I’ve seen happening in the financial systems (i.e. how what happens in Europe affects the financial systems in the U.S./Asia/other and vice versa) — it seems clear that we are all in this boat together.  If that’s true, what does that mean for:

  • Businesses and economies around the world?
  • The ability of families and individuals to afford the increasing cost of getting a degree?
  • Higher educational systems — and business models — around the world?
  • How do we resolve such massive problems?
  • What does all of this mean for how we should be educating our students?


Addendum on 11/21/11:

  • Debt committee: Why $1.2 trillion isn’t enough — from money.cnn.com by Jeanne Sahadi
    That’s because under the most likely scenario, reducing deficits by $1.2 trillion won’t stop the accumulated debt from growing faster than the economy.

    Thus, to stabilize the debt, Congress would need to pass a debt-reduction plan worth $4 trillion to $6 trillion, budget experts say.

Academic Partnerships

Excerpt from their Value Proposition page:

The concept of a broad based, highly educated population began its journey to reality a 150 years ago, when Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act in 1862. The Act called for the establishment of “at least one College in every state upon a sure and perpetual foundation, accessible to all, but especially to the sons of toil” (emphasis DSC).

Despite the unprecedented success of America’s public university system that is the envy of the world, reduced state and federal funding, almost a trillion dollars in student loans, tuition soaring out of reach for middle class families, stunning demographic changes and declining preparedness for college-level work, today’s public higher education is at a crossroads. Our old ways of doing business are no longer sustainable and the promise of the Morrill Act is in peril (emphasis DSC).


Also see:

Check out some of these announcements from The Future of State Universities 2011 Conference


From DSC:
Following are some of the announcements from last week’s the Future of State Universities Conference (oddly enough, I couldn’t find any blogs, recordings, etc. here…)


October 7, 2011

10:05 AM – 87% of the respondents to the pre-conference survey believe that public universities will undergo major structural changes in the future.


9:15 AM –Two thirds of students graduating with 4-year degrees last year, owed on average $23,186 in student loans. CNN Money

Student loan debt has eclipsed credit card debt at $1.0 trillion and counting.


In 2010 Open Universities Australia grew 35%–the largest increase on record. The Australian

October 6, 2011

3:45 PM – 57% of people surveyed by Pew and the Chronicle say that the cost of college outweighs its value. Boston Magazine

Unemployment rate for people under 25 is 54% and 9 out of 10 college grads are planning to move back in with their parents. Boston Magazine


2:45 PM – Only 11% of respondents to the pre-conference survey believe that student readiness for college is stable or increasing.


2:00 PM – 100% of presidents and 75% of provosts and deans that responded to the pre-conference survey believe that faculty interactions with students will change significantly in the coming years.


1:00 PM – Stanford professor Thrun offered his, “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence” course online and free. 130,000 students signed up. —They will get the same lectures as students paying $50,000, same assignments, same exams, and, if they pass, “a statement of accomplishment”, but not Stanford credit. “Literally,” Thrun says, “we can probably get the same quality of education I teach in class for 1 to 2 percent of the cost.” The New York Times


12:25 PM – iTunes U online is running 300 million downloads a year, with 350,000 lectures offered by more than 1,000 universities worldwide. BBC News Oxford has 10 million downloads—130,000 per week. More than half the people using them are from the US and China.


9:45 am – 50% of respondents to the pre-conference survey believe that foreign universities will increasingly become competitors with U.S. universities for U.S. students.

95% believe that foreign students will be a major source of students in the future.


9:35 am – Did you know: global higher education enrollment increased 53% in the last decade?

Did you know: 20% of all college students in the world are studying outside of their home country.

October 5, 2011

5:00 pm – Pre-conference Survey:

  • 90% of respondents to the pre-conference survey believe that state funding for higher education will continue to decline.
  • 85% believe that federal funding for higher education will decrease in the future.
  • 75% believe that public support for higher education is destined to decline as costs increase.
  • 13% believe that public universities are well prepared to market their online programs effectively.


From DSC:
Besides the words “reinvent” and  innovation— and the phrase “the perfect storm” — the following graphic comes to my mind yet again:


Staying Relevant

Public school choice pushed in Michigan — from EdWeek.org by Sean Cavanagh


At a time when many states are adopting controversial measures to launch or expand private school vouchers, Republicans in Michigan are taking a different direction, moving ahead with a plan that would greatly expand the menu of public school choices for students and parents.

GOP lawmakers, who control both state legislative chambers, have introduced a series of proposals that would give students more freedom to attend schools outside their districts, increase options for taking college classes while in high school, and encourage the growth of charter schools and online education offerings. (emphasis DSC)

Many of those proposals mirror the stated priorities of first-term Gov. Rick Synder, a Republican, who earlier this year called for establishing “open access to a quality education without boundaries.” He described the idea as an “any time, any place, any way, any pace” model. (emphasis DSC)

The Digital Promise - September 2011


Digital Promise is an independent 501(c)(3), created through Section 802 of the federal Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, authorizing a nonprofit corporation known as the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies (Digital Promise). According to the statute, Digital Promise’s purpose is “to support a comprehensive research and development program to harness the increasing capacity of advanced information and digital technologies to improve all levels of learning and education, formal and informal, in order to provide Americans with the knowledge and skills needed to compete in the global economy.”

Also see:

A visualization of the United States Debt — from usdebt.kleptocracy.us

From DSC:
Though this is the U.S. debt, the ramifications of this affect the entire globe. I believe my cousin, Mr. Stephen Gibson, is correct when he says that we may well be heading towards a “Global Reset.”







Also see:


— as of 8/24/11 around noon


Addendums later on 8/24/11 from Academic Impressions:


First day of sessionMPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

Just what are states pledging for higher ed these days?

  • Fidelity® study finds significant shifts over 5-yr period in how families tackle rising college costs
    Fifth Annual College Savings Indicator Study finds parents projected to meet only 16% of college costs, despite improved savings habits
    BOSTON – Fidelity Investments®, a leader in helping families save for college, today announced the results of its fifth annual College Savings Indicator study, which found significant shifts in savings behavior from 2007 to 2011, with more families: 1) starting to save in the preschool years despite financial pressures, 2) seeking guidance and saving for college using a dedicated account, such as a tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan, and 3) making shared sacrifices to achieve their college savings goals.

    The study features the College Savings Indicator, a calculation of the percentage of projected college costs the typical American family is on track to cover, based on its current and expected savings. After four consecutive years of decline, the Indicator held steady to the prior year at 16 percent, down from 24 percent in 2007, when Fidelity first launched the study. While overall preparedness has declined, a larger percentage of parents — more than two-thirds (67 percent) — have begun saving for college costs, compared with 58 percent five years ago.


The news this summer is teeming with trillions. The national debt is more than $14 trillion. In a recent report, the credit rating agency Moody’s says the 1,600-plus U.S.-based companies it rates harbored some $1.2 trillion in cash at the end of 2010. The newly minted congressional supercommittee is charged with finding ways to pare the federal deficit by at least $1.2 trillion in the next decade.

Trillion. It’s the new black — tres chic, tres cher. The higher-water mark. If you’re not talking trillions, you’re talking chump change. All of a sudden we are tossing the term around like we understand it.


From DSC:
As always with my Learning Ecosystems blog, see the tags and categories that I referenced here as to how I think this item is especially relevant.



The high cost of low graduation rates — from air.org by Mark Schneider and Lu (Michelle) Yin
How much does dropping out of college really cost?



Addendum on 8/18/11:


Tagged with:  

New ‘net price calculators’ required by law may bring sticker shock to families planning for college — from Michigan (USA)/mlive.com and Flint Journal by Beata Mostafavi

University tuition hits an ugly milestone; how can college be affordable again? — from Michigan (USA)/mlive.com by Peter Luke

Also see:




Debt to degree: A new way of measuring college success — from educationsector.org by Kevin Carey and Erin Dillon


The American higher education system is plagued by two chronic problems: dropouts and debt. Barely half of the students who start college get a degree within six years, and graduation rates at less-selective colleges often hover at 25 percent or less. At the same time, student loan debt is at an all-time high, recently passing credit card debt in total volume.1 Loan default rates have risen sharply in recent years, consigning a growing number of students to years of financial misery. In combination, drop-outs and debt are a major threat to the nation’s ability to help students become productive, well-educated citizens.

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