Showing posts with label Governor Andrew Cuomo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Governor Andrew Cuomo. Show all posts

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Governor Cuomo's plan to offer free public college education for New Yorkers will wreck private colleges in the Empire State

Like Bernie Sanders, I buy my clothes at Joseph A. Banks, where almost everything Banks sells is on sale almost all the time. For example, Joseph A. Banks sells very good men's dress shirts for $89, but this week they are on sale for 2 for $89. 

The on-sale-all-the-time business model works well for Joseph A. Banks, but it is not working that well for private liberal arts colleges--particularly the nondescript little colleges that are so common in the Northeast and upper Midwest.  These colleges are now discounting freshman tuition by  an average of 48.6 percent, the same discount rate that Joseph A. Banks sells its shirts. For undergraduates as a whole, the average discount is 42 percent. 

Basically, more and more people are buying a liberal arts education at wholesale prices. And even with steep discounts, private colleges are having trouble luring new students to their campuses.

And now New York's private colleges face a new threat. Governor Andrew Cuomo launched a plan to provide a free college education at New York's public colleges and universities to families with annual incomes of $125,000 a year or less.  This may pose a mortal blow to many private liberal arts colleges in the Empire State.

Charles L. Flynn Jr., president of the College of Mount Saint Vincent, said Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan has thrown the New York marketplace for higher education" into confusion." Indeed, private schools in New York compete with New York's public universities for students, and Cuomo's free-college-education scheme will definitely hurt private institutions. A report prepared by the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York estimates that  Cuomo's plan will cause enrollments to decline at New York private colleges by 7 to 15 percent. 

What can the private liberal arts colleges do to meet this threat? Not much. As President Flynn told Inside Higher Ed, his college already discounts freshman tuition by 50 percent. “How can I go above that?” he said. “We don’t have a lot more aid to throw.”

New York has more than 100 private colleges and universities, many of them obscure: institutions like Daemen College, Houghton College, Saint  John Fisher College, Hilbert College, Medaille College, Trocaire College, Canisius College, Molloy College, Cazenovia College,and Roberts Wesleyan College. Most of these schools draw the bulk of their students from families residing inside the state. 

Unless private New York colleges have elite status--Hamilton College, Barnard College, Sarah Lawrence College, etc.--they have little to offer that cannot be obtained at a SUNY institution for less money.  And thanks to Governor Cuomo, many New York families can now choose between a small liberal arts college that offers discounted tuition and a public university they can attend for free. 

The wolf is now at the door for New York's small liberal arts colleges.



References

Rick Seltzer. A Marketplace in ConfusionInsider Higher Ed, April 13, 2017.

Tuition Discounts at Private Colleges Continue to Climb (Press Release). National Association of College and University Business Officers, May 16, 2016.

Report: Effects and Consequences of the Excelsior Scholarship Program On Private, Not-for-Profit Colleges and Universities. Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York, March 2017.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Governor Cuomo proposes free college education at New York's public institutions, but the for-profits and private liberal arts schools will likely oppose this plan

Earlier this week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his plan to offer a free college education at New York's public colleges and universities for all New York families making $125,000 or less. This plan is nearly identical to the proposal put forward by Hillary Clinton last fall during the presidential campaign.

In a press release, U.S. Secretary of Education  John B. King quickly endorsed Cuomo's plan, noting that it is similar to President Obama's proposal for a free community-college education.  "I applaud Governor Andrew Cuomo for his leadership in expanding the doors of opportunity for New Yorkers, particularly those who otherwise may not be able to afford [a college education]," King said.

Governor Cuomo's proposal is a sound idea, Hillary Clinton's proposal is a sound idea, and President Obama's proposal for a free community-college education is a sound idea as well. And, contrary to what critics have said about these plans, they are not financially irresponsible.

The federal government already spends $150 billion a year on student aid programs--Pell grants, student loans, work-study programs, etc. The states also spend billions on higher education every year. New York, for example, spends a $1 billion a year in tuition assistance for the state's students.

If all this money was dedicated toward offering a free college education at public colleges and universities, taxpayers might actually save money.  But none of these plans will work if the federal and state governments continue to subsidize the for-profit college industry and private nonprofit colleges.

If Governor Cuomo's plan moves forward, you can expect to see for-profit and nonprofit colleges oppose it. Catharine Hill, president of Vassar College, came out against free college tuition in a New York Times op ed essay last year--back when Bernie Sanders was the only politician endorsing the idea. And New York's association of private colleges has already expressed skepticism about Governor Cuomo's free tuition plan.

The next six months will be a time of great turmoil for higher education. A number of for-profit colleges have closed or gone bankrupt, and many more are hanging on by their fingernails, hoping the Trump administration treats them more kindly than the Obama administration did during its waning days.  Several nonprofit liberal arts colleges have closed as well and more are on the brink of closing.

If the for-profit college industry collapses and the nonprofit college sector shrinks dramatically, then proposals to offer a free college education at public colleges might actually work. But they will not work if federal and state governments continue to prop up the nonpublic college sector with public money.

Bernie & Andrew Cuomo support free college education at public institutions
(photo credit, Sam Hodgson, New York Times)


References

Catharine Hill. Free Tuition Is Not the AnswerNew York Times, November 30, 2015, p. A23.

Jesse McKinley. Cuomo Proposes Free Tuition at New York State Colleges for Eligible Students. New York Times, January 3, 2017.

Rick Seltzer. Free Tuition Idea Revived. Inside Higher Ed, January 4, 2017.

U.S. Department of Education Press Release. U.S. Education Secretary John B. King Jr.'s statement on New York Gove. Andrew Cuomo's free college tuition proposal. U.S. Department of Education, January 3, 2017.