Huffington Post: “Community Colleges Overcrowding”

Yesterday, the Huffington Post published my opinion piece on community college overcrowding and the merits of for-profit colleges as an alternative. The article notes:

Limiting students’ educational opportunities creates barriers to success that many cannot overcome. As students seek opportunities in higher education, we must be careful not to limit these options for any segment of society; instead, we should support a system that encourages all students to pursue higher education. A 21st century economy depends upon a person’s knowledge as a foundation for increased personal earnings and the economy’s enlarged capacity to grow.

A recent Washington Post article cited difficulties that community colleges are having nationwide. Due to budget shortfalls, many of these institutions can no longer accommodate the number of students interested in attending. They have been forced to turn applicants away. In Colorado, where I served as president of Colorado State University, the waiting lists for nursing programs at some community colleges can be as long as 3.5 years. Due to overcrowding and underfunding, nursing students in Colorado face the alternative of a career for which they have less passion or a wait of more than 3 years.

Click here to view the full story.

Sticking to the Facts on For-Profits

On October 25, Lanny Davis penned an interesting piece on Huffington Post. See below for the comment I posted in response:

Mr. Davis addresses the issues with facts, and he makes a great point. The Department of Education’s approach seems to picture for-profit institutions as somehow unworthy of public support, perhaps because they are for-profit entities. In the process of doing so, the Department has failed to propose a rule that will effectively lower student debt rates while assuring access to higher education for working class students.

The facts, as Mr. Davis makes clear, picture for-profit institutions rather differently than recent media attention. As schools of choice for minority and working class students, for-profit colleges and universities have loan repayment rates that are expected for students from these backgrounds. For-profit institutions are less demanding on our tax dollars than traditional four-year schools when all sources of public funding, including loans, are taken into account, and their graduation rates are better than traditional community colleges’ rates.

For-profit schools are very market focused. They understand that they have to be innovative, offer convenient class locations and provide schedules that correspond to working adults’ needs. And their market orientation has led them to provide educational opportunity for students who otherwise would not attend traditional colleges and universities.

Like Mr. Davis, I encourage the Department to work toward lowering student loan rates, but at the same time, let us acknowledge that for-profit scshools are playing a critical role for students in the higher education industry.