Economists encourage higher ed to balance industry needs with value proposition
- Former college students carried an average student loan debt of $30,100 in 2015, a statistic that is driving skepticism over the value of a college education for low and middle-class families, according to recent research presented during the American Council on Education (ACE) annual meeting.
- Noted economists discussed the perception issue at a recent national meeting of ACE members, who said that realities of affordability, debt and employment opportunity all converge to create seemingly concrete ideas about how little a four-year degree means in the employment picture.
- A telling statistic shared at the meeting centered around student loan default rates, which are currently at 9% for college graduates and 24% for former students who do not complete degrees — a number that is more than 10% higher than the national default rate for former college students.
Colleges must be willing to share the stories of social mobility and not just for graduates who came to higher education from difficult, low-income backgrounds, but rather, students from all backgrounds who go on to become innovators in industry, civic service and science. These stories are the proof that higher education extends to a variety of communities, and the diversity of people who live and work within them.
With federal government set to make sweeping changes in public oversight for higher education and its deliverables, the assumption is that deregulation will allow schools to dramatically alter strategies on enrollment management and academic standards. But deregulation can also offer schools the opportunity to show their commitment to responsible enrollment strategy and outreach objectives.
- Inside Higher Ed What the working class wants