House Republicans Propose Cut to Humanities Funding

The U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee that oversees the budget for the National Endowment for the Humanities on Tuesday proposed legislation to reduce that agency’s funding by more than 5 percent in the coming fiscal year.

The Republican-led panel released the text of a funding measure, which would cut NEH’s budget by $8 million, ahead of a scheduled subcommittee vote on Wednesday. (A similar cut is proposed for the National Endowment for the Arts.)

The Obama administration had asked Congress to keep the federal humanities agency’s funding at its current $146 million. A budget blueprint released earlier this year by Representative Paul Ryan, the Republican who leads the House Budget Committee, proposed ending all federal funding to the NEH, which many members of his party have long derided as an unnecessary federal expenditure. 

Ad keywords: 

Error in Top Spot on 'Most Expensive' List

The federal government’s annual list of the most expensive colleges in the country, released last week, incorrectly reported that Hult International Business School had the highest net price of any four-year private institution, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

A school official told the publication that Hult had erred in reporting its data to the government, incorrectly listing some graduate and international undergraduate tuition rates on a form where it was supposed to report such information for U.S. undergraduate students.

The school said that it did not enroll any undergraduates in the U.S. during the 2011-12 year that the list was supposed to cover.

A department spokesperson declined to comment on the matter, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. A spokeswoman did not immediately return an email from Inside Higher Ed on Monday evening.

Ad keywords: 

NCAA, Republican lawmakers back Northwestern's appeal of football player union

Smart Title: 

Republican lawmakers and the National Collegiate Athletic Association file amicus briefs urging National Labor Relations Board to reverse a regional director's decision allowing football players to unionize.

Essay calls for end to charging online students same as in-person students

Several hundred incoming Georgia Tech students made history this spring as the first cohort in the institution’s online master’s program in computer science.  While today it is hardly noteworthy that a prestigious university like Georgia Tech is offering a graduate degree online, the university’s decision to price it more than 80 percent less than the on-campus option is truly groundbreaking. At $6,600, the online program is one-sixth the cost of the on-campus one, a fact that higher education leaders should be examining closely.

Georgia Tech’s decision is indeed significant, given that more than 60 percent of large public U.S. universities typically charge online students a campus-equivalent tuition rate, while 36 percent command a premium, according to a 2013 report from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the Learning House. Not only is Georgia Tech challenging the status quo in online tuition pricing, but it is also shedding new light on the true cost of serving online students.

These days, two out of three students attending on-campus programs receive some form of generous subsidy or discount, while their online counterparts, generally ineligible for such assistance, foot the full sticker price even though they do not benefit from all the amenities of the revered campus life, do not take up parking spaces, inflict wear and tear on facilities, or take up as much instructor time. Instead of embracing these online learners who produce considerable incremental revenue for institutions, colleges and universities are penalizing them, which has troubling implications not only for students’ bank accounts, but also for universities’ own vaunted views of fairness. By introducing e-tuition, which is appropriately lower than the on-campus price tag, universities could easily capitalize on the scale, brand extension, and new revenue synonymous with online learning while maintaining far more equitable pricing for online students.

In his book Generation on a Tightrope, Woodrow Wilson Foundation head Arthur Levine writes that most nontraditional, online students shop around before choosing a university at which to enroll.  He says they look for low tuitions and fees, but more importantly, they want to be treated fairly and pay a fee commensurate with the benefits they obtain from an institution. However, this is not what is typically happening. For example, students in the Villanova University’s online MBA program will pay nearly 25 percent more for their education than their on-campus counterparts, $1,240 per credit hour versus $1,000 for residential students. While the differential may be less profound at other institutions, the fact that such a disparity exists is confounding and unfair.

Although a rapidly increasing number of universities see online programs as a means of expanding their footprint and a way to capitalize on the principles of scale — adding more students without adding more on-the-ground resources to serve them — the pricing dilemma has not been fairly addressed. 

Some universities, including several in Texas that Academic Partnerships represents, have found another way. Early adopters of online degree programs, Texas public universities have enrolled thousands of students at prices far lower than comparable on-campus options, substantially increasing their market share within two years and retaining that lead six years later.  One such institution now boasts the nation’s largest online public nursing program, while another is home to one of the largest online education programs in all of American public higher education.

Several of these universities have seen their online enrollments increase the total student body by more than 30 percent, with the new revenue generated by online programs allowing some of them to offer faculty raises as other campuses in their systems have tightened budgets.

Though there is some cost associated with launching online degree programs, it pales in comparison to the benefits they can bring as students from all over the world converge through the cloud. Program enrollment of a few hundred can scale by five- or tenfold at a very low incremental cost to the university, while, at the same time, on-campus enrollment increases due to universitywide brand-building driven by intense online marketing effort associated with a successful online rollout.

While higher education is struggling with leaner budgets, the growing wave of digital students creates a meaningful financial opportunity for institutions, especially when online programs are priced at fair e-tuition rates that drive scale. Online learning allows institutions to expand into new markets, extend their brand and prestige beyond regional borders, while at the same time allowing them to tap into legions of new students, building their global alumni base and seeding future fund-raising efforts.

The benefits of online learning are many, and so too are the beneficiaries. E-tuition is both a boon to students and a potential windfall for higher education.

Randy Best is the chairman and CEO of Academic Partnerships (AP). AP strongly encourages its partner universities to offer e-tuition rates to students enrolled in online degree programs.


Editorial Tags: 

Ed Dept. Official: Ratings on Track for Fall Release

The senior Department of Education official overseeing the development of the Obama administration’s college ratings system confirmed on Wednesday that the department was on track to publish a draft proposal by this fall.

Another department official earlier this week had cast doubt on that timeline during remarks at a financial aid administrators’ conference, suggesting that it might not get done by the end of this year, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

But Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell said Wednesday afternoon that the department was still on track to produce a draft ratings system later this year.

“We want to get something out -- a first draft -- for people to look at in the fall,” he told reporters. “I’m still operating on a rough draft for fall.”

Ad keywords: 

Federal and state regulators fine Higher One bank partner for misleading and deceptive practices

Smart Title: 

Federal and state regulators fine bank over Higher One's misleading and deceptive practices. The action comes as lawmakers and Education Department consider new rules on campus financial products.

House Republicans Announce Three Higher Ed Act Bills

House Republicans on Thursday released a package of three bills that kick off their step-by-step approach to rewriting the Higher Education Act.

  • The first bill aims to boost financial counseling for students who take out federal loans or grants. It would also direct the Education Department to develop an online tool that would help students “understand their rights and obligations” of having a federal student loan.
  • The second bill would create a new “College Dashboard” website to tell families consumer information about colleges, including financial aid information and graduation rates. The data would include nontraditional students as well as Pell Grant recipients (groups of students for whom the federal government doesn’t track completion rates). The legislation would also eliminate the department’s current College Navigator website.
  • The third bill, the only one that attracted Democratic co-sponsors, aims to simplify the process by which students apply for federal student aid. It would allow the Education Department to calculate families’ needs based on their taxes filed two years prior. It would also require more data-sharing between the Internal Revenue Service and the Education Department.

The prior-prior year concept is also endorsed in legislation introduced last week by Senator Lamar Alexander, the top Republican on the Senate education committee. Alexander’s bill, though, calls for a far more drastic overhaul of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Representative John Kline, the Republican who chairs the House education committee, has said he expects the full House to vote on some of his piecemeal Higher Education Act rewrites before the November elections. 

Ad keywords: 

Senators debate whether U.S. has enough power (or too much) to combat campus sexual assault

Smart Title: 

A heated Congressional exchange raises the question: does the U.S. government need more power to hold colleges accountable for handling sexual assault cases, or has it already overstepped its authority?

Top Democrat Unveils Full Plan to Rewrite Higher Ed Act

Senator Tom Harkin, the Democrat who chairs the Senate education committee, on Wednesday released his plan to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.

Harkin unveiled the full text of his proposal, an outline of which he released Tuesday evening. He said that the proposal was a “discussion draft” and that he would accept public comments on the plan through August 29.

House Republicans, led by Representative John Kline, on Tuesday published an outline of their priorities for rewriting the Higher Education Act. Kline said that instead of releasing a comprehensive bill, he would be introducing smaller pieces of legislation in an attempt to build broader support. He said he would release the first of those bills this week. 

Ad keywords: 

Education Department Will ‘Pause’ on State Authorization Rule

The Obama administration is delaying its plan to develop a controversial rule that would require online programs to obtain approval from each and every state in which they enroll students, a top Education Department official said Wednesday.

Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell said that the administration would not develop a new “state authorization” regulation for distance education programs before its November 1 deadline.

“We, for all intents and purposes, are pausing on state authorization,” Mitchell said during remarks at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation conference. “It’s complicated, and we want to get it right.”

Mitchell said he wanted make sure the regulation was addressing a “specific problem” as opposed to a general one. The goal, he said, should be to promote consumer protection while also allowing for innovation and recognizing that “we do live in the 21st century and boundaries don’t matter that much.”

Distance education providers and state regulators have criticized the department’s approach in recent months. The department’s last draft proposal would have effectively required states to take a far more aggressive approach to regulating the online programs beamed into their state than many currently do.

Separately, the Education Department earlier this week again delayed the implementation of its existing state authorization rule for colleges that have a physical presence in different states. Officials said they needed to give states additional time to bring their college approval processes into compliance with the federal standards. 


Subscribe to RSS - studentaid
Back to Top