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Studies have shown that the cost of higher education has more than tripled over the last decade outpacing both inflation and family income. College education is seen as a key to prestigious and highly paying jobs which culminate to better living standards. However an increase in college enrollment has led to increase college fees hence difficulty in accessing higher education. In reciprocate rising college fees have left many colleges to control as it depends on the number of students who are willing to meet these expenses.
In order to stem the rising costs, government proposes to shift aid away from colleges that fail to cap the rising tuition. Colleges cite different causes of rising tuition beyond their control. They cite declining state support as one of the major reasons. This paper seeks to establish plans that colleges have put in place to help them get back on track in light of increasing tuition. The paper also looks at the government’s strategy on how to help struggling higher education sector with more funding. Finally the paper addresses possible challenges that may arise from both of the above measures by colleges and universities
With the recent global financial crisis, it is evident that education sector, like any other sector in economy, has not been spared either. Research has found out that more students are leaving colleges more than ever because of cost related reasons. Hook and Blevin note that unavailability of financial aid to low-income students leads to their drop out from colleges. They further note that this problem is fuelled further by the failure of colleges and universities to come up with cost effective ways to deliver education that could get an average student to graduate in a certain period of time. Analysis by an education concerned group shows that tuition has tripled over the last one decade. In response more and more students have turned to loans to pay for their education. Kosters notes that this is evidenced in the increase in the government’s expenditure related to education. In response further, the government has come up with proposed plan that require colleges receiving government funding to create a score sheet that will reflect the actual costs of running the institutions, the rate of graduation and the potential earnings for graduates.
On the other hand, colleges are faced with the challenges having to ensure they maintain high standard of education delivery in a very competitive but unfavorable environment. For instance, Allen points to increase in homeschooling and the availability of technology advancement like the internet as the environmental factors that make service delivery by colleges tricky. He adds that efforts by stakeholders to save the reputation of public education have been unsuccessful due to the unavailability or inadequate funds to improve the services of universities and colleges. Furthermore, the traditional modes of aiding need students such as work study programs have been dwindling. Matthews further explains that problems facing colleges and universities are further compounded by the government’s proposal of punishing colleges that will fail to control rising tuition or fail to provide value through shifting the money to other sectors that are ready to account for their expenditure.
However, determining what amounts to good value becomes difficult as the government has not yet established the measuring index for such decision. Kosters says that such step is likely to bring a rift between stakeholders. He says that the back then stops with colleges to persuade the government to review its proposal concerning its proposals. Agreeably, it is possible that the actions by the government could be justifiable but that does not mean that there are no unexploited channels to resolve this stalemate. The government has just set a stage for a long discussion whose impacts on education sector are not yet conceptualized.
On their part, students and parents continue to watch helplessly as they struggle with the reality of continued increasing costs even with lower incomes and less job security. Kosters argues that the answer to these challenges is not an easy one as it combines the state funding declines, increasing college valuations and a record high student enrollment which puts pressure on college tuition prices amid economic recession. Wise & Hauser note that many more students are applying for loans and financial aid. According to a finding by the duo, 9 out of 10 colleges have seen an increased number of applications seeking for financial aid received each subsequent year with more than a third experiencing a dramatic increase if 10 percentile and more.
Similarly, Wise & Hauser say more students are appealing for their initial financial aid to be reviewed upward. This upward appeal is an indication that the need for financial aid is increasing. It also points to the fact that tuition is ever rising in colleges and universities. Evidently, financial aid request are on increase within a stretched budget thus the need for students who are seeking financial aid to get their aid forms early and ensure that they meet the college’s priority deadlines. Interestingly many colleges and universities have created adverse economic circumstances funds to try and help student who have been hard hit with recession. Moreover, organizations like alumni associations are coming in handy to help to add emergency funds.
Reasons Why Colleges Need More Funding
Smith says that colleges need more funding for their tuition due to increased expenses and economic crisis witnessed the world over. Like any other institutions these colleges are subject to governmental taxation which hinders their operations thus there is need for them to get financial aid to cushion them against inflation. He notes that the amount received by these colleges is dependent on how well they spent the previous aid. More money is given to those colleges who are able to account to their expenditures. Colleges are also offered grants and if they can't receive grants depending on their expenditure they still have to receive a fee waiver from the government to have discounted tuition to their students. Poole also says that the other reason why colleges need more funding is because more and more student are opting to leave in colleges as compared to those living with their parents. Furthermore, Kosters says that more students apply for work study programs which put more strain to the budget of the institutions.
In order to attract more students with strong academic profiles, colleges and universities have changed their structure of recruiting and have put emphasis on the need based rather than merit based scholarships. As a result, the amount of scholarship given by public college to students exceeds the average amount of an award given to student in the low income quartile. Unfortunately, the gap in scholarship has grown over time.
On the other side of the argument, the long-term financial benefits of higher education are well-known. Bachelor’s degree recipients have 80 percent higher incomes than high-school grads, and half the unemployment rate.
The Government’s Role in Higher Education
The government is a crucial player in the education sector. It ensures that scholarships, grants and loans are awarded to need students. The government’s role in higher education can therefore not be overlooked by the players in the industry. According to Smith a scholarship is a financial merit based award that is applied for by students who are in need. They come in different forms which ranges from housing and tuition. Scholarships are terms and conditions depended and can only last for a certain period of time thus putting the student at risk if the scholarship expires. For instance, a scholarship could only be for a period of one year and rarely does it cover the whole period of study. Since scholarships depend on the prevailing conditions, it then means that needy students might be locked out if they do not meet the set conditions and terms. On the other hand, grants are is a reward in form of a onetime payment for a specific purpose e.g. a grant for a project. The bottom-line is that grants are onetime payment of a set amount.
Wise & Hauser further allude that although the government plays a subsidiary role in supporting and financing higher education, it is evident that the role remains substantial in shaping the industry that is education. Reportedly, the government tasked with the duty of supporting and directing two activities within higher education where it is believed that there is a primary responsibility of ensuring accessibility of higher education besides sustaining the basic and applied research geared towards the interest of the nation. Hooks and Blevin add that the government is judged with providing support in areas where there is a clear public interest even though it may not be a responsibility of the government. The government supports education by providing regulation towards funded activities and mandates education stakeholders and colleges to pursue areas of interest.
The proposed government regulations for colleges such as denying federal funding to programs word repeatedly saddled students with debt that is defined as unrealistic under a new formula that takes earnings into account Hooks and Blevin. Arguably, unless the college provides a valuable degree, one that pays off in future income, the government will not subsidize it. Evidently, this regulation raises a number of issues about the value of college education. One clear catch is that not all degrees from higher education institutions pay off. And the government is thoroughly involved in the business of subsidization, particularly through student grants and loans. Moreover, Hooks and Blevin look at the new regulation kicks over for those trying to find out the best policy for higher education funding, and raises most critical question in the debate over college cost.
However, combining these efforts with those of the stakeholders and interest groups is a considerable challenge, and neither the colleges nor the government does a good job of addressing it. While the colleges are generally aware of the importance of government programs, seldom are university and college policies designed to complement efforts of the government .In return, the government is even less premeditated in its policy efforts, rarely taking into account the ways in which changes in government policy affect colleges and universities, either way. In spite of these difficulties, the net result is amalgamated system that is one of the most diverse and accessible in the world.
Arguably, the government ensures that policy processes in education sector are more effective and that they should acknowledge that it is the role of government supervise and evaluate high education. Additionally, appropriate higher education professionals should be intentionally involved in policy making. Poole argues that college education institutions should be expected to operate separately in implementing policies and realizing objectives within the agreed structure. The government in its formulation of policies should allow the higher education institutions to operate freely. Finally, Alex & Poole suggest that government should build up more effective monitoring structures for determining implementation of the policies guiding higher education in the institutions.
Similarly, if the government wishes to influence the policy process including development and implementation, it is vital that individual professional should become active in policy making. An independent body should be established to provide research data for current and future research on higher education.
As a consequence of economic crisis the government has reduced its funding of higher education. Wise & Hauser observe that declining government support of higher education has ironically come at a time when enrollment in public higher education has been on the increase with over 30%. Wise and Hauser observed that this increase was also accompanied with a dramatic increase in tuition rates. They argue that increase in tuition rates outpaced the cost of living and priced college education out of reach of common people. However, these scholars admit that greater selection in admissions and a high quality as measure by grades not only makes the college look better but also helps the institution financially.
Potential Problems That May Arise From Government Policies
Wiley states that intervention by the government in reducing funds to colleges will undoubtedly lead to increase homeschooling in the country. He defines homeschooling as a form of education in which students are taught from home. The government policy is going to encourage new entrant higher education through establishment of private institutions which are not subject to accountability to any outside authority. These private institutions feel accountable to students and parents through the quality of services they offer further education colleges. Wiley says that students who cannot pay for private education as likely to be left out in the overall education system thus the need for the government to regulate for a level playing field in terms of financial and quality controls.
According to Matthews, as a rule of thumb, total education debt accrued to a student at the time of graduation should be less than the expected opening salary. However, this is not the case for many students who benefit from government funding. He observes that many students who graduate from colleges find it difficult to even secure a job and before they realize their debt is higher than they can afford. Matthews indicates that the law requires that any student who borrowed from the government repay in 10 years time failure to which the student may not benefit much from education acquired at the university because it will turn into a burden.
Smith suggests one way of reducing the costs by both parents and government without ditching higher education on the whole. According to him parents could forgo prestigious universities and colleges in favor of low and medium colleges which charge a relatively controllable tuition per year. Alternatively, student can mange there education through incremental system of learning where certain duration on time is spent in an affordable college while the rest is done at the university. Smith also recommends homeschooling to parents who have teaching licenses or who can afford to pay personal instructors at a negotiable price. Nevertheless, Smith observes that some elite institutions have enough endowments that they can offer deeply low-priced or free tuition to need students from families of reticent income.
Another challenge that may arise from the government policies is opposition from groups who no longer regard higher education as a public good. According to Poole, the consensus that higher education is a public good has long since varnished. Additionally, there is no longer a view that a well-educated citizenry offers collective benefits to the community or the nation. Instead there has been a consensus that higher education is a private good that benefits the individual who receives it. Therefore the popular and common opinion is that individuals should meet the costs of education and not the government. This change of perception has seen dramatic cuts in government’s support for college education to students. It has thus impacted on students and the quality of education as a whole. The result is that the nation’s capacity to compete in the global arena is reduced.
In conclusion, college education is one of the important pillars of economy which should be addressed by all stakeholders if the country is to benefit from the sector. Colleges and universities should device means and ways to ensure that their services are not only accessible to the common citizen but also affordable to many students whose parents cannot meet the rising college tuition. Being one of important pillars of economy and development in any nation, there is need to devices measures that will ensure everyone is accessed to higher education. Research indicates that there is the possibility of higher education becoming a preserve of a few rich individuals who can afford to pay for tuition. It is also probable that the tuition will continue to be on the rise and various measures and interventions not only by the government but also colleges themselves will be handy. This requires the intervention of stakeholders both at the college and the government levels to put measures in place to facilitate the counter of such escalating tuition in the future