"First, the bad news. One engine is on fire, we're low on fuel, and we have no idea where we are." But on the bright side, he continued, "We're making great time!"
The Institute for College Access and Success issued a report this week that strikes me as a good news-bad news joke. Student debt levels for the graduating class of 2018 was $29,200, only 2 percent more than the previous year. I suppose that's good news.
But the bad news is this: About 45 million Americans are student-loan debtors, and collectively they owe $1.6 trillion in student debt. According to TICAS, over 20 percent of African Americans will default on their student loans within 12 years of entering college, 7 times the rate for whites (p, 9).
Among students who began their studies at for-profit colleges, TICAS reported, 30 percent will default within 12 years of entering college, seven times the default rate for students who first enrolled at public institutions.
These dismal outcomes are happening during a nationwide enrollment decline, which is hitting the nonprofit private schools the hardest. The small liberal arts colleges are frantically trying to keep enrollments up. They've slashed tuition by an average of 50 percent. They've started new academic programs. They're cutting faculty lines, particularly in the humanities. They've hired marketing firms, and have tried re-branding themselves with billboards and hip slogans.
But for many liberal arts schools, these strategies will not keep them afloat. And this reminds me of another story.
A Texas rancher told a friend he had begun an experiment to lower his livestock feed bills. "I began feeding my horse a little less hay everyday," he confided, "until I finally weaned him off hay altogether.
"How did that work out for you?, his friend asked.
"It was working great," the rancher said. "But unfortunately, my horse died before I was able to complete the experiment."
|The experiment was a success, but the horse died.|
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