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Archive for Saturday, February 4, 2012

KU looking at ways to maintain affordability

February 4, 2012

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As President Barack Obama continues to tout new policies designed to keep college costs down, Kansas University’s provost said the university is undertaking its own measures.

The president outlined his proposals in his recent State of the Union speech and in other speeches and news accounts afterward.

“We are putting colleges on notice — you can’t keep — you can’t assume that you’ll just jack up tuition every single year,” Obama said in a speech last week at the University of Michigan. “If you can’t stop tuition from going up, then the funding you get from taxpayers each year will go down.”

So far, details of specific proposals haven’t been distributed. The New York Times reported the president was calling for an increase of available funds for federal Perkins loans to $8 billion from the current $1 billion. Also, he wants to create a competition similar to a “Race to the Top” program for elementary and secondary education, where states that keep costs down are rewarded and another $55 million competition for individual colleges to increase their value and efficiency, the Times reported.

Another reported change would require colleges and universities to offer a “shopping sheet” with information about financial aid, and offering post-graduate earning and employment information.

If passed into law, the effect those proposals might have on a university like KU remains to be seen.

Tuition at KU continues to increase each year, but KU Provost Jeff Vitter said the university is working on ways to help people afford college.

The university is pursuing agreements with community colleges to work on better ways to help people transition from two-year schools (with much lower tuition costs) to KU. KU is working to improve its retention and graduation rates, Vitter said.

“If you graduate in four years, and on time, that saves money,” he said.

Vitter said KU’s tuition and fees — just more than $9,200 per year for an incoming Kansas freshman this year and around $22,500 for a nonresident freshman — were among the lowest of KU’s peers in the Association of American Universities.

“We are very much committed to keeping the KU education affordable,” Vitter said. “And if you look at what it provides, it’s an amazing bargain.”

It’s a challenging environment, too, he said, as other institutions are taking federal grant and loan dollars.

“We’ve had a lot of issues with for-profit institutions using these resources in ways that have not been productive,“ Vitter said. “That’s a real problem.”

Two KU social welfare professors are researching another potential way to alleviate the college affordability issue: publicly subsidized savings accounts for children.

William Elliott III and Deborah Adams recommend taking $3 billion from the Perkins program and using it to establish a program where public funds would match money contributed by families, charities and organizations for an individual child’s account.

“We have a student loan debt problem,” Elliott said, suggesting that other measures should supplement a student loan.

The savings account proposal would match Obama’s aims, too, Adams said.

“I don’t think these tools are divergent; I think they’re complementary,” she said.

Of course, she said, getting such a proposal through Congress — as with anything — could be a difficult fight.

Comments

down_the_river 2 years, 10 months ago

What's the update on KU's effort to appeal our status on the Department of Education's list of shame of the least affordable 4 year public universities in the country? If that appeal isn't successful, all the rest of proposed changes from the Obama administration don't sound very promising for KU. The PR efforts from KU only go so far when people have access to data base details like the Department of Education is promoting.

oakfarm 2 years, 10 months ago

At some point Kansas has to decide what 'public' means in 'public university'. Forget that silly term, "state-supported," used by public universities to try to shame the state into more support, while all the time spending money mindlessly on administration, public relations, non-revenue sports, counseling and 'student life' activities, and less on actual instruction and learning. Does 'public' mean that anyone in the state should be able to attend at a price he or she likes? Does it mean that anyone with a high school degree should be admitted? "Need-based" financial aid, in the name of making a college education 'affordable' has simply shifted the cost to those who don't 'deserve' 'need-based' aid, and sent out the message that "You all come to KU! Forget the cost! Have we got an affordable deal for you!" And, like 'affordable' mortgages, 'affordable' college becomes an expensive nightmare, supported by stupid legislation like "dream acts" for even more foolish acceptances and debt. Every college wants to have the best faculties, the best faculty, and the lowest costs. It can't be done without robbing someone to pay the bill.

cowboy 2 years, 10 months ago

Yep , just screw all those lower income , immigrant , less deserving than you folks who really don't deserve an education. Keep raising tuition until only the rich can attend. Higher education has lost its way it seems.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 10 months ago

Why should higher education be any different? K-12 has lost it's way as well.

cowboy 2 years, 10 months ago

Many of the seemingly informed posts indicate a research facility is expensive to fund. If this is the case should the missions be separated and the tuition set on actual costs. Can KU find a more efficient way to deliver an undergrad degree. I think I paid off student loans in three years back in the 70's. Most are saddled with 15 years of debt coming out now.

yourworstnightmare 2 years, 10 months ago

KU is already at the low end of costs compared to AAU peers, even with the recent increases in tuition.

Running a research university is expensive.

The state has underfunded KU for years. If you want low tuition so that all can afford KU, then the state will be required to substantially increase funds to KU.

If not, then why would one expect KU to go against market forces to keep its price artificially low? There is nothing magical about KU. It costs money to run, similar to its peers in other states.

Sorry, but you cannot have it both ways: a top research university with decreasing state aid and low tuition. To think otherwise is childish.

down_the_river 2 years, 10 months ago

I know there are various ways to compare, and that's why the Dept of Ed data needs to be refuted or accepted. Looking at KU in comparison with Madison, Austin, Iowa City, Columbia and Chapel Hill, according to the Feds; Full-time beginning undergraduate students who received grant or scholarship aid from federal, state or local governments, or the institution, are expected to pay (net price) between 20 percent to 200 percent more at KU than any of those other respected institutions.

If there is something wrong with this data from the Department of Education, we better get this cleared up pronto. Otherwise, the recent drops in enrollment at KU will seem rather trivial compared with the shifts that may be coming as people push to seek better value.

notaubermime 2 years, 10 months ago

What proportion of students meet the criteria of being full-time, beginning undergrads who receive grant or scholarship aid? KU may be a worse deal for students like that, but a better value for students who do not receive financial aid.

ljwhirled 2 years, 10 months ago

Is it me, or does the provost look not quite right? The picture makes him look a little...... unsettling.

Tony Kisner 2 years, 10 months ago

More loan money will drive up tuition, easy Economics 101 question. How about the diversion tactic blaming for profit degree mills for for rising fees at KU. Nice try.

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