Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wall Street Journal on Educational Attainment

The Wall Street Journal has a front-page article today on the slowdown in the growth of educational attainment. The article does an unusually nice job of explaining the nuances of this story - e.g., that it is male attainment that is stagnant and that the sticker price of college is much higher than the net price. I throw in my two cents by noting that students may not know that the net price is as low as it is:

"Governments and colleges have offered more financial aid, but the complexity of the
American system—a dizzying array of grants and loans, tax deductions and scholarships
—confuses and sometimes scares off some potential college-goers, says University of
Michigan economist Susan Dynarski."

Friday, April 6, 2012

No Access is Not Open Access

Santa Monica community college in California has proposed to provide courses at cost, since students are currently being turned away from massively oversubscribed classes that are offered at below cost. The Chancellor is trying to stop them:
The chancellor, Jack Scott, had already made it clear that he was wary of the community college’s plan, saying it could violate state education codes..."The question, of course, is that the price may well rule out low-income students, and does that go against our philosophy of being open to all? That is the heart of the issue."
No, the heart of the issue is that the courses are currently closed to all. It's a fiction to claim that a community college is "open to all" if it won't provide needed courses to students.
Let students make the choice to use their Pell Grant or loans to enroll in the classes if they want to. Otherwise, many will go down the street to the local for-profit and end up much, much deeper in debt.
Ironically, we see in the same issue of the New York Times California regulators have failed to crack down on unauthorized, for-profit colleges that are charging much higher prices than those proposed by Santa Monica Community College. These colleges also have much worse outcomes for students, as measured by employment and certification rates.