For-profit career colleges suffered major setbacks in 2006 as many students dropped out with huge debts and no degree. Students entering college in 2008 had a 55 percent rate of graduating college from public universities but only 27.8 percent among for-profit 4-year schools.
For the more than 100,000 students enrolled in the main online campus of University of Phoenix, that rate was only 17 percent, according to reporters Gordon and Ybarra at the McClatchy Washington Bureau. The same reporters found “...that by 2014 nearly 1.2 million current and former University of Phoenix students had borrowed $35.5 billion in federal student loans, far more than any school in the nation, and that 45 percent of the students who’d enrolled in its classes five years earlier had defaulted on their loans.”
According to a Boston University study, students at for-profits make up nearly half of U.S. student loan defaults but only constitute 12% of college students. While there is a cap on for-profit universities getting more than 90 percent of their revenue from government funds, an examination of the top 15 found that they are getting 86 percent of their revenue from taxpayer dollars. They target and get 37 percent of post-GI Bill dollars. Many for-profit schools spend big money for CEO salaries and marketing but little on “faculty” salaries.
Because they may inflate their job placement rates, the U.S. Department of Education has shut off access to federal student-aid. The collapse of the Corinthian system left huge numbers of students with loans and no degrees, a situation that resulted in a huge taxpayer bailout as well. The dominoes continued to fall. ITT failed in September. The U.S.D.E. has denied funds to Globe University and Minnesota School of Business. Career Education Corporation has spent $10 million to settle claims.
In a 10-3 decision in June, the federal National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity voted to shut down the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools for failing to provide oversight of such schools. This will limit access to federal student aid for over 800,000 students and continue the decline of for-profit mostly-online colleges. Unfortunately, some of the same quality problems exist for public universities that have adopted online programs; they can hide their lower-performance online course data within their larger face-to-face operations.
Meanwhile, U.S. public higher education faces a reduction in the number of high school graduates and further cuts in state funding. Many universities are heavily marketing to out-of-state students who pay higher tuition. And there is a growing reliance on foreign students. If all of our Chinese students were lost, the United States would lose a college student population equal to all of the students in all Kansas public universities times three!
Across the United States, foreign students (temporary visa holders) now make up 52 percent of engineering doctorates, 50 percent of math and computer doctorates, 36 percent of physical science and earth science doctorates, and 26 percent of biology doctorates. With living standards improving overseas, an increasing number of these new experts are going back home.
Meanwhile, one-third of U.S. millennials are now living with their parents at home. For the first time, the cohort of post-graduate-age students has a lower percentage of college graduates than the prior generation. And for the first time in recorded history, the U.S. newborn generation will have one month less life expectancy!
There has been a massive increase in college credit given for Kansas high school course work under the dual-credit or concurrent enrollment system originally designed for a few exceptional students. Beginning the fall semester of 2017, much of this will be curtailed due to the Higher Learning Commission’s requirement that teachers of college credit courses have a masters degree and at least 18 masters level credit hours in the topic they teach.
Facing a Kansas teacher shortage, some Kansas universities are providing instructors for high school dual credit courses. As college instructors of college courses, they do not have to have a secondary teaching credential. But if there are students in that class that are taking the course just for high school credit, that college instructor lacks a license. Unfortunately, there is no inspector from KBOR or KSDE; no badge and no enforcement of licensure requirements.
But there will be concealed carry of guns on campuses this upcoming July 1, 2017. Substantial majorities of faculty and students at Kansas public universities disagree with the law—but they are four years too late in their opposition.
Kansas higher education is also waiting for the Kansas Supreme Court decision on adequate funding for K-12 schools. With a court decision likely to require $350 million or more for K-12 schools, Kansas will be hard pressed to find that much money. Anticipating further cutbacks, several Kansas universities have already frozen positions and are not filling vacancies.
Tuition increases were formerly limited to no more than 2 percent above inflation. Last spring, the Legislature removed that cap. Will our lawmakers balance the state budget on the back of the next generation of college students?