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Friday, October 24, 2014

When a School Tries to act like a School

When a School Tries to act like a school

When I submitted my last blog When a School acts like a School to my fellow bloggers for review one person commented, “I wonder how long they’ll be able to do that.”

This month’s Carolina Alumni Review shows how prophetic the comment was.  Following elections that resulted in a Republican majority in both houses of the North Carolina General Assembly, the membership of the Board of Governors for state universities changed from 19 Republicans, 12 Democrats and 2 unaffiliated members to 29 Republicans, 2 Democrats, 2 unaffiliated members and 2 members whose political affiliation could not be determined.

One issue important to the new board was concern that full-paying families are helping to carry the load for those who qualify for financial aid.  Constituents apparently thought that was a bad idea.  I am reminded of a family member and devout Christian who commented on extending health care to those who could not afford it, “I’ve got mine.  Why should I care about them?”  Although I am not a biblical scholar, I am unable to come up with a quote from Jesus about getting your needs met and not bothering with the needs of others. 

The board set a limit of 15% on how much tuition revenue could be spent on need-based student financial aid.

The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and four other campuses are already above the limit so the revenue they spend on aid is frozen until tuition hikes rise high enough that the funds allocated fall within 15% of tuition.  For every student who qualifies for the Carolina Covenant (family of origin income at of less than 200% of federal poverty guidelines) and who could expect to graduate debt-free, there are currently almost three students who receive some financial assistance.  All students receiving aid will be affected.

43% of students qualify for and receive financial aid.  The average debt accrued to graduating seniors is $17,000, well below the national average.  However, with aid capped, students will have to borrow money so their indebtedness will increase. 

Academic quality of students could change.  Acceptance to UNC is made without reference to family income, if students qualifying for need-based aid were excluded from school average SAT scores would drop from 1308 to 1278, percentage of students who were in the top 10% of their class would drop from 77% to 62%, percentage of students who were valedictorians or salutatorians would drop from 14% to 9%, and percentage of students who were the first in their families to go to college would drop from 19% to 9%. 

Also, underrepresented minority students would drop from 18% to 9%.  Of course it is too early to know what exactly will happen but according to Shirley Ort, director of scholarships and student aid, it is likely the university will be less available for students for families with limited financial resources. Officials hope fund-raising campaigns seeking private donations for student aid are planned.

Chancellor Carol L Folt said, “…affordability and accessibility are central to our mission.”

I hope that mission will continue.


Jim Jackson said...

This is the same North Carolina whose University has recently been accused of putting many of its football and basketball players in "independent" study programs requiring no class time an essay to demonstrate some work was done and pretty much guaranteed a high grade to help the "student athlete's" GPA remain high enough so the student stayed eligible for the sports.

I don't recall any suggestions by the legislature to curtail the cost of sports scholarships so those there for the education could use the scarce dollars.

~ Jim (or you can call me jaded)

KM Rockwood said...

I think it's well past the appropriate time for us to reconsider how we structure our higher education, including the rather idiotic concept, fully embraced by most educational systems and many employers, that "everyone should go to college."

The real beneficiary of this system seems to be the banks who make the loans.

And the victims are the hopeful, hardworking young people who start their adult lives saddled with overwhelming debt. Sometimes without even finishing their degree.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Thoughtful post, Warren. Recently, our son's au pair returned to Germany to resume her education where she has free college unlike the U.S.

Warren Bull said...

Jim, You are correct. It isn't clear to me how much the policies were engendered by the academic scandals.

Warren Bull said...

KM, For those students who continue on to graduate school, the amount of debt incurred is gigantic.

Warren Bull said...

I didn't know about Germany. Good for her.

Gloria Alden said...

Warren, you've pointed out several things that have bothered me. First the so called Christians, and it could be someone in any religion, who consider themselves pious without living up to the basic teaching of their religion. And then the whole business of overpaying the heads of colleges, in my opinion, as well as letting any good athlete pretty much get a free load while deserving students of low income, either can't go to college or end up with astronomical debt if they do. Also, making students think to get a decent job, they must go to college and then often end up with a degree and not able to find a job, or only a low paying job like as a manager of McDonald's. Why would anyone need a college diploma to manage a McDonald's?

Shari Randall said...

We're all poorer when talented young people can't get the education they need.

I suppose the football team will not be affected by the purse-tightening.

Sad days. I just wonder where all the money goes.