|Issue of the Day Posts Tagged ‘Higher Education’|
Enrollment Surge Creates Pressures on Community Colleges
Published Monday, August 3rd, 2009 by Lacey Loftin
Contrary to a system that is based on open admission to higher education all, community colleges now have to contemplate turning away students. The reasons for such a reversal of principle are fueled by the current recession, an enrollment surge greater than the past 2 decades, and tight state budgets. Normally, an economic downturn would boost community college enrollment. Yet, the current recession poses a three sided crush of students who are out of work and looking for a career boost, limited to lower tuition choices by a tighter credit market, and threat of home foreclosure requiring extra income. The tuition for a four year university and a two year community college is drastically different in that private 4-year is $25,143 and public 4-year is $6,585. Community college is less than $2000 on average.
The Obama Administration has planned to add $12 billion to the community college budget over the next decade, yet there is no immediate relief in sight. The most up-to-date information on college enrollment suggests that the growing enrollment is coming from the Hispanic college age population, which increased nearly 4 percentage points to 57.9% between 2005 and 2006. The enrollment by the white population decreased by 4.7 percentage points to 68.5%, and blacks had a -0.2 point change during the same time period to 55.5%.
Some relief has finally come to those struggling to pay off those student loans. New rules allow for borrowers to apply the plan to their remaining loan amount as of Wednesday, July 1st. Highlights include an income-based repayment plan that considers income and family size; also borrowers can set their monthly loan payment at 15% of their annual adjusted gross income. Plus, borrowers who make less than $16,245 — poverty level — would not be required to make any payments on their federal loans as long as their income remained at that level. Public Service also offers some relief as well in the form of loan forgiveness after 10 years of service. The Government increased the Pell Grants payouts from $619 to $5,350 — thanks to the Stimulus Act — for the 2009-2010 school year, decreased loan origination fees to 1% next July and cut interest rates from 6% to 5.6%.
The action is a result of several factors not the least of which includes skyrocketing tuition, which has reached $20,000 for a Private school and near $5,000 for public school in 2007. For 45% of Public college students and upwards to 60-75% of Private college students, the rise in tuition has resulted in loans to cover the cost of an education. This has lead to an annual Federal Assistance borrowing of $92,484 million and places the US second in Higher Education spending among developed countries.
According to the Department of Education, countries such as Canada, Japan, and Korea have advanced beyond 50% of their adult populations earning the equivalent of an associate degree or higher. To get the US population to the competition’s level represents a roughly 50% increase in US annual degree production for the next 16 years. Moreover, we would have to pay close attention to the shifting demographics of the US population, which by 2020, whites will decrease to 63%; Hispanic will increase to 17%; and Blacks will reach 13%. A study by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education argues that if current gaps remain, the net result would be a projected 2% decline in per capita income over the period from 2000 to 2020. This would result in a shrinking tax base and a weakened global competitive edge.
College degree attainment rates within the US have been relatively flat for two decades at 20-28% for males and 24-30% for women, averaging 29% overall in 2008. Of those aged 25-29, broken down by race, Whites achieve 32%; Blacks earn 19%; and Hispanics are awarded 13% of all degrees. Adding an Associate’s degree increases income by about $10,000 annually; adding a Bachelor’s near doubles income; and a professional degree quadruples a High School annual income. This is especially important when considering that the top 50% of wage earners have paid 96% of our total Income Tax Share in 2007.
For both applicants and schools spring presents a stressful time at the mail box. Acceptance and rejection letters are creating drama at home and at university as the economy influences applicants’ decision making. 39% have decided to include the amount of tuition when weighing private school acceptance letters. 53% of students who planned to attend a private college now report limiting their choices to public schools. Living arrangements have changed as well; many who would have lived on campus now choose to live with parents. And 27% are choosing the less expensive 2 year institutions instead of going straight to 4 year schools. Yet, 21% plan to defer college to work for a year in order to save for college tuition.
At the heart of the issue is the growth of tuition for both the private and public institutions. The rate at which these public and private schools have increased their tuition, faster than inflation, has raised concerns that many are being priced out of higher education. While there have been only subtle changes over the last 27 years in the different percentages of those attaining higher education degrees, the real change has come from the increase in federal student borrowing, which has increased $48,477 million since 2000 to $92,484 million in 2007.