Monday, February 13, 2017

New York To Offer Free College…Sort Of.

By Professor Doom

     College tuition has been soaring for years but the expense of college is far worse than what we’ve been told. See, admin knows that tuition is tracked, and tracked carefully, and so has long since made a shell game out of college expenses.

      While college tuition goes up a few percent every year, book prices climb 10%, student “activity” fees climb 20%, cost of housing another 30%, computer registration fees another really is ridiculous watching fees appear from out of nowhere and leap up without coherent explanation.

      Allegedly to combat higher college tuition, New York state has a plan to offer free college tuition to its students. I appreciate New York means well, but having seen so many good intentions for higher education perverted, I have to be a little suspicious. 

I’m hardly alone:

     While the author above raises some good concerns, I feel the need to highlight and add to some things.

…For instance, at the State University of New York, the tuition for this year is $6,470, but the total cost is $24,630 for New York resident students not living at home…

     That’s quite the shell game, eh? How is it that housing costs are so high for a state supported institution? I mean, they get a free ride on the real estate taxes, the government owns the land already, it isn’t trying to make a profit. But, hey, tuition’s low, right?

       Let me explain what will happen here. Tuition will be free to the student. The university will be paid by the state a flat fee, say $6,000 per student as opposed to charging $6,470 for tuition. The university will then raise other charges to make up the $470 difference. But, for that one year, the students will be getting a break.

      The university, seeing that students are flowing onto campus for “free” now, will do whatever it takes to grow the student base. Granted, that’s what we’re doing now.

      But, the state will never increase that $6,000 per student payout. So, future tuition raises will just be shuffled off to more housing fees, more student recreation fees, library use fees…honest, it’s amazing how nobody sees this coming, even when it’s already arrived. Again, that’s rather what we’re doing now.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders should know this, because he introduced a bill into the Senate last year that would have regulated tuition increases and would have also forced colleges and universities to spend more on instruction instead of administration.

      See, this is why Sanders should have been allowed to speak, he has some ideas that should be heard. Administrative costs are huge, every time someone does the math on costs, it’s clear only around 10% of tuition is necessary to pay the costs of education, and the rest just supports a bloated bureaucracy.

      Trouble is, Sanders’ idea would fail. See, admin gets to determine what costs are for “instruction” and what costs are for “administration.” They already play this game when it comes to calculating the faculty/student ratio, which has been unchanged for decades despite faculty numbers being level while student populations quadruple.

       How did admin accomplish such wizardry? Admin just reclassifies staff and admin as faculty. I’ve seen many administrators who have never set foot in a classroom or written a sentence of academic research nonetheless call themselves faculty, I’ve even seen them win “faculty” awards (chosen by admin, of course), while faculty are forced to applaud the success of the “peer.” 

      So, yes, Sanders is right that we should reign in administrative costs…but as long as administrators get to decide those costs, it won’t make any difference.

      It’s amazing to consider the numbers involved, and watching admin drool for MOAR:

CUNY has been at or near peak enrollment in recent years, totaling 274,357 students systemwide in 2015. But at least some college presidents said they could take a moderate increase driven by the Cuomo plan.

“I could take 5 percent -- I could probably even take a 10 percent increase in enrollment,” said Gail Mellow, LaGuardia Community College president. “I couldn't take 50 percent.”

      Oh, don’t be shy, Gail, I’m sure you’d find a way for 50% more students if you had to. I’ve been on campuses with this sort of growth (because these sorts of schemes pop up every decade or so), and seen the trailers get hauled on campus overnight in response to a fast increase in the “student” base, while admin tells me that I need to sacrifice quality for quantity yet again.

     Nowadays, I just don’t see how 50% more growth is possible, given  around 84% of the population gets sucked into college at some point. Why don’t our “leaders” in higher education understand that 50% growth is impossible when you’re already at 84%?

     I just don’t understand why “higher education” is such a huge government mandate. We already have a free library system and the internet, so before we expand higher education even further, we need to honestly ask:

     What exactly does higher education offer, over already existing free resources,  such that society won’t be satisfied until every citizen is shoved into it?

     I’m hard pressed to figure out an answer. We’re already at 84%...what could possibly be gained by making it 100%? We need to answer this question, because ultimately the goal of “free education” schemes is to put more people into college. Seeing as such schemes so far have created a massive higher education bubble and financially crippled more than 20,000,000 students, true leaders would be hesitant about growing such a failed system. Instead, they drool at the prospect of MOAR.

       Can anyone suggest why we need to grow a system that already sucks 84% of our citizens into it?

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