Behind Closed Doors in Washington, Here’s What Colleges Fight For

Think of them as College, Inc. Like most industries, higher education prefers less regulation (and accountability).

Comments: 79

  1. Mr. Carey, your article is well-reasoned and informative. What it suggests, for me, is that a loose acceptance of all educational institutions defining themselves as colleges is good for student borrowers but ultimately harmful for the student debtors. That is, all the discussion is about student debt, which is the outcome of something you have examined in your essay. Thank you.

  2. Colleges are big businesses and much of their model depends on students being able to borrow the huge sums for tuition and expenses. There is an enormous amount of money sloshing around this system. And wherever there's a large pot of money the right-wing MO is in full effect: appoint a friendly insider as the "regulator" whose real job is to ensure the continued flow of funds including as much public money as possible. Strict accountability for public money is only for programs that benefit average citizens and taxpayers. For insiders like the military and this educational-industrial complex, opacity and a blank check drawn on the public's account is just what everyone wants.

  3. @Pat - pretty silly to think that the MO you describe is employed by only one side of the political spectrum. Who pushed hardest for massive amounts of "free money" for student loans? Who pushes hardest for colleges to admit minorities who otherwise would not be admitted based solely on academic merit? Democrats, right, 'cuz they are the good guys? I will grant that most Dems have good intentions. But very few of you seem to be able to predict what seem to me to be the obvious negative consequences of your policies.

  4. @Pat No, non-profit colleges and universities are not "big businesses." They have no profit motive, no interest in taking students for a ride. Indeed, the tuition of state colleges and universities is only rising sharply because state subsidies and federal assistance to students have either been cut sharply, or are not keeping up with needs. It is for-profit colleges that are scams, scams that the Obama administration made strenuous efforts to shut down, and which the Trump administration is actively attempting to keep in business, keeping them feeding at the taxpayer trough.

  5. @UncertaintyPrincipal Thanks, we needed some false equivalences here to balance things out.

  6. I have said it before, and it is worth repeating here. A database should exist where prospective students can enter: College Major Incoming SAT/ACT score. Prospective student is then shown: Probability of graduation within 5 years (arguably the most important factor, since most student loan defaults are people who didn't graduate) Median income upon graduation and 5 years after, as well as incomes broken up by 20th percentile, 40th percentile, 60th, and 80th. This would be useful for existing students considering switching their majors as well.

  7. @James The bureau of labor statistics can provide the necessary career information.

  8. @James Google College Scorecard, the Obama administration's attempt at what you've described above.

  9. @Chas. Not for the school, and not for the individual's baseline academic performance indicators. MIT or Harvard can accept anyone they want, and those kids can choose a pre-med major. But if they are in the lower 25% of SAT scores, that information is suddenly relevant. Its Bayes rule, given what you know about both the general population and a target population, you can now make predictions for an individual based on which part of the target population they are in.

  10. Betsy DeVos, daughter of a well known pyramid schemer whose American Way scam gave her millions, is like the rest of the Trump disease in Washington. She works not to better education in America, but colludes with the profiteers to loot students and promote educational inequity. Her title ought to be Secretary of Arrogance.

  11. Everyone wants federal dollars with no strings attached. It doesn't, and shouldn't, work that way.

  12. I'm shocked that this column doesn't point out the real culprit clearly: the for-profit so-called "universities," which receive vastly more federal student aid than is warranted. They're the ones that are creating bogus degrees without sufficient training that are leaving Americans with tens of thousands in debt and without jobs. This is really not a problem created by liberal arts colleges. And it's the Trump administration, led by Betsy DeVos, that is protecting those for-profit thieves. Once again, The Upshot's conservative bias is on full display.

  13. @Sean So why is it that the majority of students, with and without degrees, that struggle with education debt attended private and public "non-profit" institutions? (And just because the Upshot does not pound the progressive drum does not make it conservative.)

  14. @Bob Krantz "So why is it that the majority of students, with and without degrees, that struggle with education debt attended private and public "non-profit" institutions?" Because the majority of education is provided by non-profits.

  15. Ok, let's go over it again what history has taught us about higher public education. 1-It should be low cost but not free. If it is like today students will be in perpetual debt paying it off forever. If's it's free, students will use it as a way to get out of the draft (old days), goof off, expect everything in life to be free etc. 2-There should be academic requirements to get in. Everybody is not meant for college. When CUNY started open admission circa 1970 it almost destroyed the system and they had to change. 3-Other institutions should be made available besides college ie computer schools, vocation schools etc.

  16. In the 21st century, the “educational industrial complex” is a great existential threat to civilization.

  17. I agree with a lot of this; but I will add a thought regarding students actually graduating. I'm not sure colleges and universities should be entirely accountable for this. I graduated about 5 years ago and even then I was surrounded by people (from all walks of life) who had no business in a high education setting. They didn't have the basics of writing, reading for comprehension or mathematics down enough to merit their seat in a lecture hall. Our public (and private) education system isn't producing college ready students. Why should higher education be held accountable? And why haven't we come up with something better than the SAT to weed out students who aren't ready?

  18. @Lauren In that case, those people should not have been admitted to college.

  19. @Lauren Maybe because they should be in the business of EDUCATING not making money. Strict standards for admission should weed out those students not capable due to poor primary education. Those students capable, but unable to afford are the people who should receive the loans.

  20. @Lauren I would think that an admission officer should be able to eliminate students who are not college ready very easily. "Please sit down and write a paragraph or two on anything that you like." "If you go into a store and by 2 quarts of milk at $1,50 each and a TV dinner for $5, how much change should you receive if you give the clerk a $10 bill?" Both seem trivial, but how many college students can give reasonable responses?

  21. Overall, I urge caution before signing any minimum targets into law. The federal government awards millions annually in the form of grants through different agencies (NSF, DOL, ED, etc.). Each program has evaluation requirements (GPRA requirements), and institutions meet them with varying levels of success. One look at the evaluation reports by grantees will show you how difficult and expensive it is to meet targets. Also, most importantly, our education system is not designed fiscally to support such a nationalized regulatory program. Public education is funded primarily at the state and local levels. Tuition only accounts for a part of an institution's budget. Different states fund education very differently, and for different purposes. For example, Texas has a larger economy than Russia as measured by GDP. California's is larger. Many colleges in TX coordinate their programs with the demands of local industry, which sometimes align with traditional measures of student success, like degrees awarded, but often do not. Some jobs only require certifications to make a family sustaining wage (above $15 per hour). The spectrum of education and industries in these United States is so broad that a single higher ed. law could very well constrain institutions. Yes, people need jobs, but they look very different in different parts of the country and economy, and they will change as the society changes. Not saying no, just encouraging thoughtful consideration about consequences.

  22. Maybe the fed should go back to stop collecting interest on these loans and there would be a lot less incentive to cheat our children.Devos is not qualified to run a lap much less be involved in Education. ZERO job qualifications!

  23. It is sinful how some for-profit 'colleges' bilk their students. These kids are among the most vulnerable among us. They are hopeful, hard working and have ambition - and they are too frequently crushed by the burden of the debt they so hopefully take on. Debt that never goes away. Shame on us all for allowing it.

  24. @C.L.S Is it OK for non-profit colleges to do the same thing?

  25. @Bob Krantz No. Given their tax exempt status, the bilking they do is even more shameful.

  26. I'm an engineering professor, and my experience is with ABET, the accreditation agency for engineering programs. While it's true that it is very rare for a school to completely lose ABET accreditation, it's not some "good old boy" system, either. Administrators, in particular, live in fear of ABET. Want to make something happen at the undergraduate level? Just whisper "ABET" in the ear of a Dean or department head. Want to make a nation-wide change to the engineering curricula? Get ABET to require it, and within six years, every engineering school in the country will do it. That's why I oppose the idea of setting minimum retention, graduation rates, or job placement rates criteria for accreditation. There is already tremendous pressure to pass students who can barely do the work. Making retention and graduation rates an accreditation requirement will further increase that pressure. And job placement rates? It doesn't matter to the bean counters if a mechanical engineering student who takes a dead-end technician job or gets his dream job designing cars for Tesla. It matters, a lot, to the student, and it should matter to the school he graduates from as well. Accreditation should be based on academic standards and processes. Issues of poor retention and poor graduation rates should addressed through other means -- and not the hammer of accreditation criteria.

  27. @HT The implications of this one statement from an engineering professor regarding pressure to pass students who can barely do the work is chilling. People's lives depend upon engineers able to do the work. Bridges, subways, buildings, etc., the "stuff" of engineers, are taken on faith by the public to be safe. Now to consider that the educational degrees awarded to engineering students are not to be trusted .......

  28. @Janet I worry least about civil engineering projects, like bridges and tunnels. These are designed by engineers with a PE (professional engineers) license. PE licensing is a rigorous process that is independent of grades in college coursework.

  29. @HT When I was an engineering student at a state university, I did not witness any form of "grade inflation" in engineering courses. You either solved the problem and got the correct numbers, or you didn't. I doubt if that has changed.

  30. Numbers without nuance are very poor measures of academic quality. Example: the federal "graduation rate" --- developed only in the early 1990's to measure persistence of athletes --- is really about brand loyalty, i.e., how many students graduate from the college where they first enrolled. The rate treats transfer students as dropouts, which is a hopelessly antiquated view of transfer when almost half of all college students transfer or attend multiple institutions. The rate is also a measure of wealth and low risk in admissions --- wealthier students with parents paying the bills are more likely to be admitted to elite institutions and more likely to stay and graduate from those same schools; but that's fewer than 20% of all college students today. Our student populations have changed dramatically but the measures have not kept up. Colleges serving low income students take much greater risks in admitting students who need help to get up to speed in college, but those institutions also provide pathways through general education which can support transfer later on when the students succeed and then choose to pursue a major elsewhere. This article oversimplifies a complicated issue, thus illustrating precisely why hard and fast data lines must be drawn very carefully, and probably not industry-wide since there is so much variance of the types of colleges and student populations.

  31. @Pat McGuire "Colleges serving low income students take much greater risks in admitting students who need help to get up to speed in college..." This struck me, and my question is: Why are colleges admitting students who need help getting up to speed? It seems like both the college and the student would be better served if the student got up to speed at a lower priced community college or possibly even a good public library.

  32. @S Baldwin Participation in today's workforce requires postsecondary education for many jobs; low income students face many educational challenges but with the right pedagogy and support they can succeed in college and enter the kinds of career pathways that leverage families into economic security. Many colleges specialize in helping such students succeed and our faculties have developed great methods to engage and challenge students in ways they never experienced previously. Many colleges today also provide dual enrollment for high school students and other kinds of support for high schools to strengthen the pathway into and through college. The need for education is too urgent to leave impoverished students outside of the system; we need to bring them even closer to help them succeed. And just sending them to a library is certainly not enough, quite often the most significant learning issue is critical reading, a topic of intense focus in many first year collegiate programs. Yes, community colleges are great pathways, and so are other collegiate institutions that have developed expertise in building stronger school-to-college-to-career pathways.

  33. The wide availability and exploding utilization of student loans is putting money on the table for colleges to help themselves, with students left to work off the tab. Public universities should directly receive federal subsidies that match state contributions and conform to regulation of administrative costs.

  34. @Tim Clark Your concept would be a good solution that is currently impossible due to consistent reductions in state funding for higher education. Therefore, state funded universities are joining the privates in looking for additional outside funds to augment the loss of taxpayer funding. The idea of free state universities and even community colleges is wonderful, but not gonna happen. Sad

  35. Problem #1:National and state data informs us that the majority of students are graduating high school deficient in math, English, reading and writing. Legislation at the state level allows high schools to issue a diploma that signifies graduation with basically a 10th grade education. To expect students who are not ready for the academic rigors of a college curriculum to succeed is foolish. Problem #2: College have reduced their admission standards, in many cases eliminating standardized test scores and placing less weight on high school grades in math, English and science. Call this holistic admission that looks at the total person. Colleges are admitting students knowing full-well that the students cannot succeed academically, even with tutors nd counselors. Problem #3: The false narrative that colleges are doing a public good by providing access to academically underprepared high school students. In reality, the colleges need the tuition and fee revenue to maintain their operations and compensate the faculty, staff and administrators. Problem #4: There is no incentive to graduate students or ensure a higher percentage receive a degree. Other than public scorn, the longer the student remains enrolled the tuition and fee revenues continue endlessly. It is best to fix the academic competency issue at the grades K-4. End social promotion. Students should only advance to 4th grade with being proficient in reading, writing, math and English at the 3rd grade.

  36. @Mike Problem #5: The colleges that accepted less- and less-qualified students are graduating less- and less- qualified students *from their teacher-training programs*. Lack of high school teachers with deep mastery of their fields is only one of many reasons for the declining performance of high school students, but it's a vicious cycle.

  37. TRUMP UNIVERSITY graduate Betsy DeVos is an ally to lowering college accreditation standards so they can access federal student loan money (aka your tax $$$.)

  38. @Prosper A. Bellizia DeVos graduated from Calvin College in 1979 with a degree in business economics.

  39. @Prosper A. Bellizia Secretary DeVos has a degree in Business Economics from Calvin College. Accreditation agencies are to college degrees what rating agencies are to mortgage bonds and the SEC is to Bernie Madoff.

  40. @Prosper A. Bellizia Calvin College?..

  41. When students default on loans, make college pay the loans and pursue the student for repayment. Colleges would immediately become more selective in who they admit and what courses of study they offer.

  42. @Beliavsky Good idea. The issue at hand is not about rankings and accreditation, it's about loan repayment. Also, it seems reasonable to ask the Department of Education to make easily accessible their loan repayment data so that prospective students can evaluate school choices.

  43. Here's my question: As the stream of students on which colleges depend becomes both smaller and less wealthy, will failures in the system be allowed to put the public at risk?

  44. Its time to rethink the student loan system. Put the schools in charge of their own loans using funds from a predefined federal credit line charged at the federal funds rate. Loans are repaid directly to the school which in turn uses those payments to service their line of credit. When students repay their loan, the school can service their debt and replenish their fund to make new loans, If students don't repay their loans the school either goes out of business or finds another source of the funds for repayment and loans. What does this do? Like any business, careful investments in students, programs, and "warranty work" (retraining etc.) using loans and scholarships will become important because the ongoing financial viability of the school will likely be at stake. Competition to attract the right students that will work hard with a realistic view to a viable career will compel schools to work harder at providing both mainstream and diverse educational paths allowing schools to meet societies needs both broadly and in niche interests. This may seem to be education as an economically driven process, but at least it will bring the stakes out into the open and make all players accountable for their part in the system.

  45. @ruffner Ripe for abuse. It will attract more grifters like Trump to open private colleges and universities... and grift off the government.

  46. An important question almost never asked: Is there value in taking university level classes without getting a degree? The answer, in my mind at least, is a resounding YES. The American university system is astoundingly inflexible. While a "degree" is a reasonable goal for many or even most, and maybe one way to measure success is obtaining that degree, and to then get a well paying job. BUT the real and true goal should be learning. Learning for the sake of learning. Not for the sake of money and money alone. We should encourage more, not less, students to take classes that they want to take, degree seeking or not. Hard with the current system, but it should be a long term goal, in my mind. I would love to have see more life-long learners in the classroom, people who want to be there for that class and maybe that class only. So are we measuring the right thing when we tally percentages that graduate? Are we promoting learning, creativity, and intellectual curiosity? Or are we quenching it?

  47. @Scientist As always, what we are likely to get are the things that are easily measured, like graduation rates or employment. The intangible but valuable things like satisfying a long held curiosity about a particular subject will fall by the wayside because they can't be easily quantified. As a community college adjunct I have seen an increasing emphasis on recruitment and retention because of the financial pressures on the colleges budget. I am also seeing increasing pressure on faculty to keep students enrolled, again with easily measured statistics at the forefront. From personal experience, I can say that non-employment related things that I studied in college have been some of the most valuable in my life. We need to get back to the idea that education for education's sake is valuable both for individuals and society at large. Our politics would be a lot more sane if more of the voting population were more adept at critical thinking.

  48. (Carey): "Congress will have to decide whether an industry that receives enormous public subsidies should be accountable for helping students graduate and get good jobs. If it doesn’t, the future of college graduation and debt could look much like the past." So long as taxpayers pour $200 billion + per year into the post-secondary credential racket, subsidy recipients will have a stronger incentive to manipulate regulatory agencies (accreditation agencies) than citizens have to keep regulators and colleges honest.

  49. No one denies that supervision of educational quality is necessary, but as with all regulation, compliance and especially the monitoring thereof requires time and effort. Colleges now put enormous resources into compliance with an ever-growing list of mandates: equal opportunity, gender equality, diversity, informed consent, confidentiality of student records, sexual harassment, conflicts-of-interest. All are perhaps necessary, but all consume money and effort that used to go directly to education. They are one factor, and not a minor one, in the escalating cost of a degree.

  50. @Larry Compliance should not be required. Sensible responsible Colleges and Universities would simply embrace the equivalent on their own and for the benefit of their students. But.. as with all things where money is involved.. Colleges and Universities have demonstrated that they will not step up and do the right thing, so... that forces the hands of government to force them to be accountable.. and hence here enters "compliance".

  51. @Chuck Whether it's called "compliance" or "sensible responsible" reporting for the benefit of students, it requires resources to accomplish. It also requires collaboration or coordination among institutions to set out standard definitions. When budgets are tight, I know my University president would sacrifice those adminstrative jobs in a heartbeat with they were optional. Who could blame him?

  52. Comments here -- serve more students like me, fewer like them and these problems won't arise. Promotion of class and exceptionalism....where's equity?

  53. Marvelous article. Solid, factual, and really insightful. Please don't miss the point. This is what happens across many industries. It's an inherent problem. There's very little debate about how to address it. In other words, if you think this story is about how the wrong people go to college, or the metrics are dated, or K-12 education isn't working, then you're missing the point. Most of the oxygen about gov't "corruption" concerns campaign finance. But lobbying is where the rubber meets the road. Health care, colleges, banking, they're all islands of inflation, where value lags costs, and they can keep it that way by working Congress.

  54. College is a rip-off. Classes and teachers are irrelevant; students learn on their own from self-study. That is why public high-school students don't know anything despite attending classes and having teachers. Instead, the government should administer tests -- for which college-age students would study on their own -- that entitle those who pass to college degrees.

  55. @politicallyincorrect I would hope there are exceptions in your opinion. I really don’t think you would agree to have surgery performed by a doctor who did self-study and then passed a test.

  56. The prospective students and their parents, however, are not stupid. Most of today's colleges are neither safe nor particularly beneficial for the students, who will find alternate ways to gain an education. I'd recommend a national subject-testing center--not unlike the original scheme at the University of South Africa--to supply credits and academic integrity, plus MOOC on-line courses for academic content.

  57. For-profit colleges are not institutions of higher education and should not be treated or described as such. They are predatory engines of fraud.

  58. @Emery " 'Non-profit' is a tax category, not a business model"-Cheryl, _Unplanned_ "Profit" is a bookkeeping term, the difference between total revenues and total costs. An organization which has no line in its balance sheet for profit must attribute all revenues to costs. To the extent that the difference between "for profit" (i.e., not tax exempt) and "non-profit" (i.e., tax exempt) organization makes a difference to organization performance, the difference favors for-profit organization. See Joel Fried, "Pots and Kettles: Governance Practices of the Ontario Securities Commission, parts 1,2.

  59. @Malcolm Kirkpatrick for-profit companies have owners that profit, non-profits do not.

  60. My only objection to this article is in the opening statement where the author criticizes industry associations and lobbyists, "working behind the scenes to water down legislation." This is another example of bias reporting by the NY Times. Very often lobbyists representing associations are trying to prevent over regulation, which can create unnecessary costs and burdens. I am not saying the author is entirely incorrect, but this kind of broad generalization is typical of NY Times liberal reporting. And lets not forget the enormous influence unions have on regulations for their own purposes.

  61. @Jim Full marks to you on pointing out that industry associations probably do both —i.e. work to "water down" and to counter "excess" regulation, and also that other groups like labor unions lobby for regulatory issues as well. Nicely articulated on your part. Carey's piece would arguably provide better commentary if it acknowledged that opposing perspective. You are on the wrong track, however, when you complain about “biased reporting.” This isn’t a news story --it is a commentary, i.e. an opinion piece. Kevin Carey doesn’t work for the NYT and isn’t a reporter. Carey is a guest writer -- in this case, an education policy program director, according to the bio at the end of the piece. Why be a stickler? Because you used the word "reporting" as if this were a straight news piece. Now, maybe the NYT should write a news article about lobbyists and industry associations which does more to explain them, but this piece isn't that, nor does it pretend to be. If your complaint is essentially that Carey leans left, that the NYT publishes left leaning commentary or even that the NYT editorial board is pretty leftist, well, yeah, that tracks, more or less. But "biased reporting"? There's no fodder for that here.

  62. It takes lots of tuition dollars to fund the now required "Offices of Inclusion and Diversity", all which need a VP and full staff. The University of Michigan spends almost $10 mm per year on funding these offices. Lotta money..

  63. @Midwest Josh Please remember that the University of Michigan is a flagship school and this office handles more than what the Title suggests. It actually save the university thousands of dollars by providing necessary services to an increasing diverse student body. Also, this is a standard in most accrediting bodies.

  64. For profit education institutions should not be receiving any federal funding. University of Phoenix received 1.2 billion in GI Bill money, but GIs complained they didn't receive educations or jobs and their GI bill money was gone. Why are these chisslers even at the table?

  65. Over the years, I have hired many graduates of the U.S. college system, primarily in the field of computer science. They tend to be weak in mathematics. Not weak in the sense that they were good in high school and stopped taking courses at the end of first year, but weak in the sense that they had never been good, and had bluffed their way through their college math requirements. It has long been fashionable to criticize the graduates of science and engineering programs of being weak in their understanding of the arts and humanities. However, there is a hidden and more serious problem when these students graduate without having mastered the fundamentals of their discipline, which deal with abstraction, simplification and reasoning about complex systems, not just the symbolic techniques. If you think that software is poorly-designed now, there is much worse to come.

  66. This is a good article. It would be a very good one if the author had taken the trouble to ascertain what colleges actually need to do in order to win/maintain accreditation. Because he did not, it isn't really journalism. I am a professor at a small, not-for-profit college. Every 10 years we undergo an extensive evaluation. Two years ahead, every department needs to produce a substantial report drawing on whatever data they have amassed. The year before, committees form under a leadership group and devote hundreds of hours to organizing all this into one extensive report. During the big year, accreditation teams not only read through the report, but visit the college, read most of the supporting work (committee reports, department reports, data sets), examine course syllabi and on-line course material, and conduct interview with faculty and administration. At the end, the team report always makes numerous recommendations, expresses concern over areas of shortfall, and sets a timeline. There will then be a five-year review to see how much progress the college has made toward resolving the issues raised. This does not include accreditation of individual programs (such as teacher education, law, social work, or accounting), which is run by groups affiliated with professional associations. Each of these sets standards for relevant programs, and faculty/staff must undergo a similar extensive review & respond to criticisms. So Mr. Carey - ever plan on actually researching this?

  67. Good article that misses the real debate. The federal dollars insulate colleges from most economic reality. By making student loans so easy to attain, the actually fuel waste in the system. If colleges had to compete properly, they would have to reduce the ridiculous cost of college. Today they charge as much for MOOC or online classes as they do for in class courses. Why? To protect professors salaries. Stop the federal ‘loan subsidies’ and watch colleges worry about placement rates. Education is not the goal. Good paying careers is why attended.

  68. @Michael Sorry, but no. That $ is not going to professor's salaries. It is going to the Deans slush funds to hire more Deans and Associate Deans and Whatever Deans and pay them too much money. Larding up the management is the way of the world and education is not immune to this.

  69. @Michael I haven't really investigated the general idea you express that college costs are unreasonably inflated. I definitely recognize that costs are MUCH higher than when I attended college. However, from my years of working at university, I'm doubtful these expenses can be blamed on inappropriately high salaries for professors and related research staff. Much of the work at a "research" college is supported by post-doc positions and graduate students who do not make a ton of money. And professor's salaries are not exorbitant in the way that is often implied in public discussions. The idea that professors (and related research staff) at universities have super high salaries is oddly widespread - and incorrect. If colleges are overpriced, I expect that is better attributed to other factors.

  70. @Michael I can guarantee you the increase in costs does not go to those who teach. As a simple example, I have been teaching as an adjunct on and off for nearly 20 years at the same institution, simply because I enjoy it. 20 years ago, I was paid $6-7K to teach a class to to about 15-20 students who paid $2500-$3000 each. So, the university brought in about $50K, paid me $6K, a grader $1K and kept $43K I taught this same course last year; my pay increased to about $9000 while I discovered students were paying $6500 for the course. So, now the university is bringing in $110K, paying me $9000 and a grader $1500, keeping close to $100K. Now, this is truly anecdotal for someone who teaches as an adjunct because they enjoy it, but I have several colleagues who have also been doing this for years, either as teaching professors or tenured, and while university tuition has gone up by 100% or more, their salaries have generally increased by much much much less. Where does all of this extra money go? It goes to administration jobs, new sports facilities, student "experience," etc. Parents and students need to start putting their feet down, refusing to pay these crazy tuitions and demanding that colleges and universities TEACH first and ignore all of the extras.

  71. Higher education is a unique case because the funding comes from the government through individuals who are responsible for repaying their loans as a first line of defense (and often can’t). It’s patently ridiculous that someone would chose to borrow $100k to get a criminology degree in 6 years from a no-name but accredited school - but the individuals who are doing this do not realize the mistake they are making because it is at odds with broad social impressions about the value of “education”. A valuable “education” does not mean a diploma from xyz university - it means a process that makes someone significantly more capable. It is something that creates and refines skills and in some cases knowledge. This can mostly be measured in dollars and cents. Diplomas can have value too insofar as they signify that someone accomplished something meaningful. A diploma from Harvard is short hand for I’m smart and is pretty easy to monetize. An md from an accredited medical school is the same. A diploma from the Long Island college of criminal justice is short hand for just about nothing - that’s what it’s worth and that’s what people should pay for it. We need a value based system that enables this kind of result.

  72. Like most people, I am sick and tired of Benie Sander's rants. The problem is that he is right. It is not a liberal or conservative or Trumpian (whatever the heck that is) issue - it is pervasive. Using money to tilt the scales in Washington. It is ugly and corrosive and will destroy our democracy.

  73. same goes for newspapers being just a itself promoting industry

  74. On the one hand, I'm ALL FOR the idea that the scam artists which fleece students of their student loans, never intending to give them an education, should not be accredited. However, the success of the Right Wing "Christian" institutions show quite well that a "university" does not need Federal Student Loan guarantees to survive in the market place if they have a large enough market to fleece. Truly, there is a sucker born every minute. On the other hand, our whole economy goes through boom and bust cycles which sweep up innocent graduates, willy nilly. If they graduate, there are no jobs. Maybe those students don't graduate, because of economic hardship at home. Their families, which, might very much like to keep them in school, cannot. That happened to me when I graduated in 1992. Of my class of 36 Civil Engineers, 1 year after graduation, fully a 2/3 were unemployed. I went to a __top 20__ private university. It was hardly the university's fault that we couldn't get a job for love or money. You could lay it squarely at the feet of much larger forces than our professors. It wasn't just my major, it was happening at colleges across the country, everywhere. There have been TWO MORE of these, one even bigger, since. It's called "a Recession." In the rush to punish scammers, we should not punish good--and great--colleges for the cyclical nature of our economy.

  75. "Since President Bush signed the current Higher Education Act into law in August 2008, total outstanding student loan debt has increased by $946 billion." Oddly this does not even mention the decrease in state funding over that time period, which in the case of some states (Arizona and Louisiana) have been almost 50%. Thus this article tries to make an overly simplistic connection between accreditation and the increase in student debt.

  76. The availability of jobs upon graduation is what determines whether a graduate will be employed or not. Employment opportunities are a function of economic policy. Colleges and universities are responsible for educating people. Period.

  77. Let’s stop clutching our collective pearls shall we? Beyond the top 100 universities, the rest are worthless. Even the top 100 rely on the full paying foreign students for India and China like never before.

  78. Universities have been turned into a jobs program for the white progressive middle class, paid for by the non-dischargeable debt of the young. My alma mater is on track to reach a 1:1 ratio of administrators to students in time - perfect for an array of assistant associate deans and vice provosts for diversity and inclusion to collect their $100K salaries and justify their master's degrees in grievance studies. If you want to see discipline in costs and standards and quality, abolish the federal financing. Did we learn nothing from the housing bubble and the moral hazard of government subsidy and over-leverage?

  79. I remember when "real" universities followed the philosophy that education served the life of the mind. The subjects taught were understood to be worthwhile but impractical. Practicality was, and should still be, the central focus of the university. The word "university" referred to the breadth of knowledge of subjects that were offered in ways that would enhance life itself. Good universities still aim at this goal. There was no expectation that what was taught and learned would guarantee a high, or even steady income. The important goal was, and is, the development of a thoughtful, and thought filled, life. The motto of the university of Chicago was, and still is: Crescat scientia, vita excolatur ... Let knowledge grow, so that life may be enhanced The alternative were trade schools, technical institutes that aimed at providing practical knowledge and skills that could reliably be used in the jobs market. What has changed is the status inflation in which technical institutes and teachers colleges were upgraded to the status of "universities". The expectation became that anything taught had to be useful in the market for employment. Sadly, the practicality of skills with immediate employment relevance is ephemeral. The knowledge and practice of thinking, of the LIFE of the mind, is something that lasts a lifetime, provided that they are continually in use. The central element is a contrast of different ways of life.