Wednesday, September 29, 2010

All Military & Veterans: complete that degree!

Great new program from Lamar University to complete your bachelor degree online. This is a great program and that takes into account all the military credit you have earned.  The best part is that it only costs $150 per credit hour. 

If you do the math versus most programs that cost $250 per credit hour, you get 10 courses per year with Tuition Assistance versus just 6 courses per year with other programs. 

So even if the government covers the cost of the degree, you can get there faster with Lamar University! 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Wikipedia BLASTS For Profits

I was doing some background on Pell Grants for one of my amazing students and decided to take a look at the Wikipedia take on Pell Grants. Obviously someone who hates for-profit colleges and universities has been busy. Note that there is a warning from the Wiki Folks that something might not be totally correct. But if want a Pell Grant and read this, you will not want a for-profit schools.

Note that not all schools are created equal. The schools that EduMilitary works with are all regionally accredited and many are state schools.

Knowing that someone will probably protest the posting on Wiki - I will paste it below as it appeard on 9/28/2010 at 10:30 AM EST.


The Pell Grant program is a type of post-secondary, educational federal grant program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. It is named after U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island[1] and originally known as the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant program. Grants, which do not require repayment, are awarded based on a "financial need" formula determined by the U.S. Congress using criteria submitted through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The Pell Grant is covered by legislation titled the Higher Education Act of 1965, Title IV, Part A, Subpart 1; 20 U.S.C. 1070a.

Because Pell Grants are targeted toward students from lower-income families, receipt of them is often used by researchers as a proxy for low-income student attendance and to indicate the economic diversity of the student body.

Federal budget legislation passed in early 2006 cut the federal financial aid budget by $12.5 billion. While the maximum Pell Grant legislative limit was raised to $5,800 through 2011, maximum Pell Grant awards were not funded at this level.

For 2006-07, the maximum Pell Grant available to students was $4,050. For 2007-08 the maximum Pell Grant award was $4,310. For 2008-09, the maximum Pell grant was $4,731. For 2009-10, the maximum Pell Grant was $5,350, with an added option for receiving an additional disbursement ($2,675) in the summer. For 2010-11, the maximum is $5,550. After this it will tie future increases in the Pell Grant maximum value to annual increases in the consumer price index.

Due to rapid increases in tuition and fees, Pell Grants do not cover as many credit hours as they used to. Twenty years ago, a grant covered 60% of a student's cost of attendance while in 2006 the maximum grant covered about 31% of the cost of attendance.[2]

[edit] Pell Grant recipients

To qualify for a Pell Grant, a student must demonstrate financial need. The amount of the award is based on the Expected Family Contribution, derived from the information on the FAFSA. In the 2005-06 school year, students with family incomes of less than $20,000 accounted for 57% of Pell Grant recipients. 35% of these recipients attended public two-year colleges, and 42% attended public four-year colleges.[3]

The National Postsecondary Student Aid Study found that during the 1999-2000 school year, students from families making less than $41,000 accounted for 90% of Pell Grant recipients.[4]

Students may not receive Federal Pell Grant funds from more than one school at a time.

Financial need is determined by the U.S. Department of Education using a standard formula, established by Congress, to evaluate the financial information reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and to determine the family EFC. The fundamental elements in this standard formula are the student's income (and assets if the student is independent), the parents' income and assets (if the student is dependent), the family's household size, and the number of family members (excluding parents) attending postsecondary institutions. The EFC is the sum of: (1) a percentage of net income (remaining income after subtracting allowances for basic living expenses and taxes) and (2) a percentage of net assets (assets remaining after subtracting an asset protection allowance). Different assessment rates and allowances are used for dependent students, independent students without dependents, and independent students with dependents. After filing a FAFSA, the student receives a Student Aid Report (SAR), or the institution receives an Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR), which notifies the student if he or she is eligible for a Federal Pell Grant and provides the student's EFC.

FSA Handbook Federal Pell Grant Program

Federal Pell Grants are direct grants awarded through participating institutions to students with financial need who have not received their first bachelor's degree or who are enrolled in certain postbaccalaureate programs that lead to teacher certification or licensure. Participating institutions either credit the Federal Pell Grant funds to the student's school account, pay the student directly (usually by check) or combine these methods. Students must be paid at least once per term (semester, trimester, or quarter); schools that do not use formally defined terms must pay the student at least twice per academic year.

[edit] Pell Grant For-Profit fraud controversy

For-profit institutions were randomly sampled by the GAO in mid 2010. Out of the 15 sampled, all of the institutions were found to have been engaging in deceptive practices, promising unrealistically high pay for graduating students and four were engaging in outright fraud, per a GAO report released on the August 4, 2010 Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing. Examples of misconduct include:

offering commissions to admissions officers,

employing deceptive marketing tactics by refusing to disclose total tuition cost to prospective students before signing a binding agreement,

lying about accreditation,

encouraging outright fraud by enticing students to take out student loans even when the applicant had $250,000 in savings,

promising extravagant, unlikely high pay to students,

failing to disclose graduation rate, and

offering tuition cost equivalent to 9 months of credit hours per year, when total program length was 12 months.

The four for-profit colleges found to be engaging in fradulent practices were:

Westech, California, encouraging undercover applicant with falsified $250,000 in savings to falsely increase the number of dependents in the household in order to qualify for a Pell Grant, as well as take out the maximum amount in student loans;

Medvance Institute in Miami, Florida, financial aid representative telling applicant not to report $250,000 in savings, comparing student loans to a car payment in that, "no one will come after you if you don’t pay.”, when a student loan default may remain in the debtor's credit history, prevent them from taking out a car-loan, mortgage or rent, and may have their pay garnished up to 15%, until the student loan is paid in full; In addition, another admissions officer at Kaplan College in Pembroke Pines, Florida,[5] alluded to fraudulent behaviour stating to the applicant when inquiring about the repayment of loans, "You gotta look at it... I owe $85,000 to the University of Florida. Will I pay it back? Probably not... I look at life as tomorrow’s never promised... .Education is an investment, you’re going to get paid back ten-fold, no matter what.";

Anthem Institute in Springfield, Pennsylvania, financial aid representative editing applicant's FAFSA form by omitting $250,000 in savings;

Westwood College in Dallas, Texas, admissions representative telling applicant to falsely add dependents to qualify for Pell Grants, ensuring the applicant that the dependents would not be verified through previous income tax returns nor Social Security numbers, and financial aid representative encouraging applicant not to report the $250,000 in savings, stating that "it was not the government’s business how much money the undercover applicant had in a bank account.", when the Department of Education requires students to report such assets, along with income, to determine how much and what type of financial aid will be awarded.Pell grants are not free to white people and whities will have to pay that money back.Government just tells you it's free until schools over and the bill comes in.

It was found that 14 out of 15 times, the tuition at a For-Profit sample was more expensive than its Public counterpart, and 11 out of 15 times, it was more expensive than the Private institution. Examples of the disparity in full tuition per program include: $14,000 for a certificate at the For-Profit, when the same diploma cost $500 at the Public college; $38,000 for an Associate's at the For-Profit, when the comparable program at the Public college cost $5,000; $61,000 for a Bachelor's at the For-Profit, compared to $36,000 for the same degree at the Public college[6].

This is counter to IEC CEO Fardad Fateri's claims of the lack of use of unorthodox recruiting practices and a For-Profit's "value" in an International Education Corporation open letter to congress[7], the tuition cost of Certificates and Associate's degrees being 28 and 6 times more than at a public college, respectively; Fateri writes, "Credit should be given to non-profit universities that have been able to convince students and their sophisticated parents to pay approximately $400,000.00 for an undergraduate degree that will seldom lead to an academically-related career." However, the most expensive college in the U.S., Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y., had a tuition cost of $41,040 for 2009 fiscal year[8][9], bringing the tuition of a four-year Bachelor's degree to just above $160,000.

The institutions identified in the Committee hearing in respect to the GAO report numeration were:

Tuition cost comparison between for-profit, public and private colleges for equivalent programs.University of Phoenix - Phoenix, Arizona[10]

Everest Institute - Mesa, Arizona[11]

Westech College - Victorville, Ontario, Moreno Valley, California[12]

Kaplan - Riverside, California[13]

Potomac College - Washington D.C.

Bennett Career Institute - Washington D.C.

Medvance Institute - Miami, Florida[14]

Kaplan - Pembroke Pines, Florida[15]

College of Office Technology - Chicago, Illinois[16]

Argosy University - Chicago, Illinois[17]

University of Phoenix - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania[11]

Anthem Institute - Springfield, Pennsylvania[18]

Westwood College - Dallas, Texas[18]

Everest Institute - Dallas, Texas[19]

ATI Career Training - Dallas, Texas[20]

Students at For-Profit institutions represent only 9% of all college students, but receive roughly 25% of all Federal Pell Grants and loans, and are responsible for 44% of all student loan defaults.[21][22] University of Phoenix tops this list with Pell Grant revenue of $656.9 million with second and third place held by Everest Colleges at $256.6 million and Kaplan College at $202.1 million for the 2008-2009 fiscal year, respectively.[23] In 2003, a Government Accountability Office report estimated that overpayments of Pell Grants were running at about 3% annually, amounting to around $300 million per year.[24] Some of the universities that are top recipients of Pell Grants have low graduation rates, leaving students degreeless, and graduating alumni finding it excessively difficult, and at times resorting to extreme measures to find work [25][26] with their degrees, leading some former students to accuse recruiters of being "duplicitous", and bringing into serious question the effectiveness of awarding Pell Grants and other Title IV funds to For-Profit colleges.[27][28] University of Phoenix's graduation rate is 15%.[29][30] Strayer University, which reports its loan repayment rate to be 55.4%, only has a repayment rate of roughly 25%[31], according to data released by the Department of Education on August 13, 2010.[32] The low repayment rate makes Strayer ineligible for receiving further Title IV funds in accordance with new "Gainful employment" regulations brought forth by the Department of Education, which are to take effect on July 2011.[33] If passed, the minimum loan repayment requirement for any institution receiving Title IV funds, subject to suspension and expulsion if not compliant, will be 45%.[34]

For-Profits top the Department of Education's list for the 2005-2007 cohort default rates, with campuses at ATI and Kaplan reporting default rates far above 20%: Most of the For-Profits' expansion has been in the states of California, Arizona, Texas and Florida, the metro areas of Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas and Miami-West Palm Beach being epicenters of their growth [35][36][37][38][39]: For comparison, in Miami, FL, Everest Institute reports a default rate for two of its campuses to be 18.1% and 20%; Miami Dade College, the district's community college, which serves as a primary channel for local beginning students, reports a default rate of roughly 10%; Florida International University, a public university serving the Miami metropolitan area, reports approximately 5%.[40]

Internal executive University of Phoenix chart, encouraging deception, manipulation and predatory tactics: "Creating Urgency: Getting Them To Apply NOW
Remember, ...
Students don't buy benefits
They buy to ease or avoid pain
Finding and Burrowing into that pain moves the sale to a CLOSE

Also, the close of the sale is really just a beginning"In an August 4, 2010 Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing, Gregory Kutz of the GAO stated that the fraudulent practices may be widespread in the For-Profit industry, noting a University of Phoenix executive chart that encouraged deceptive practices.[41]

Internal Westwood College E-mail, dated March 24, 2008, employing commissions and rewards system for applications and enrollments to admissions officers.Joshua Pruyn, a former admissions representative, disclosed to the committee hearing several internal E-mails distributed among admissions officers that encouraged applications and enrollments, through the use of a commissions reward system, during March 2008.[42] Chairman of the committee Senator Thomas Harkin noted the conflict of interest due to the ACCSC, a national accrediting agency that accredits many For-Profit colleges nationwide, [43] receiving compensation directly from the institutions which it awards accreditation. The Inspector General issued an assessment in late 2009 recommending the limiting and possible suspension or expulsion of the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools due to conflicts in the manner in which the accrediting agency reviews credit hours and program length for online-colleges, specifically American InterContinental University, a For-Profit college.[44] The NCA HLC accredits the University of Phoenix and Everest in Phoenix, Arizona. The Department of Education Inspector General is currently reviewing the GAO's documents and report on For-Profit Colleges dated August 4, 2010.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Corvette or College

What's wrong with higher education?  I agree with Froma Harrop in the Dallas Morning News today in her opinion piece: College or a Corvette? Same Price.  The bottom line is that not all college/university degrees are worth the cost. 

The reason:
American median income has grown 6.5 times over the past 40 years but a state college cost has increased by 15 times.  You are investment is getting the return it used to.  And that doesn't even take into account getting a degree in a useless major!  And private school costs have gone up 360% since 1980.

Why are costs up so high - Froma gives us a shopping list:
  1. Money on pampered sports teams that don't bring in any revenue such as $20K per person for Duke Golf team
  2. There are 629 college football teams - 14 actually make money (hard to believe with all that TV money out there)
  3. The number of college administrators has doubled over the last 30 years with great new titles like "director of learning communities" and "assistant dean of students for substance education"
  4. President's salaries - Vanderbilt makes $1.2 million a year
  5. Massive upgrade on facilities - climbing walls, granite floors in dorms and other luxuries to attract students
It has to stop.  Online schools  - that really do leverage technology to increase efficiency and provide greater access are going to be the Netflix to higher ed's Blockbuster. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

RIP Leonard Skinner

The inspiration for one of the best rock and roll bands ever - Lynyrd Skynyrd - died yesterday. Leonard Skinner was a high school gym teacher who strictly enforced the rules about long hair. The band modified his name and stepped into rock and roll history.

Such a different time - when the battle was over hair and rock-n-roll. Not over carrying knives, drugs, gangs and the myriad of problems facing high school teachers today.

I for one am glad Mr. Skinner enforced the rules so that I can still jam to Sweet Home Alabama and Free Bird! Rest in peace Leonard Skinner.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The ROI of College

A lot of buzz about the cost versus benefit of going to college and I have to agree. It is basic economics since the cost of a degree has far outstripped inflation - so salaries have not kept pace with the rising cost of a degree.

Today it is the Washington Post with an article from Sarah Kaufman: "Some say bypassing a higher education is smarter than paying for a degree". The premise is that going to college is basically a due to a herd mentality and there are smarter ways to spend $200,000

A friend of mine, Dr. Richard Vedder has the money quote (pun intended):
"In 2008, the median annual earnings of young adults with bachelor's degrees was $46,000; it was $30,000 for those with high school diplomas or equivalencies. This means that, for those with a bachelor's degree, the middle range of earnings was about 53 percent more than for those holding only a high school diploma.

But a lot of college graduates fall outside the middle range -- and many stand to make considerably less.

"If you major in accounting or engineering, you're pretty likely to get a return on your investment," Vedder says. "If you're majoring in anthropology or social work or education, the rate on return is going to be a good deal lower, on average.

"I've talked to some of my own students who've graduated and who are working in grocery stores or Wal-Mart," he says. "The fellow who cut my tree down had a master's degree and was an honors grad."

So - if you are going to an elite school and getting a marketable degree, the investment is sound. As I said in a recent blogpost on higher education, if you are going to NYU to earn a degree in Women's Studies, you would be better off putting your money elsewhere (or in that case not piling on $100,000 in debt to work as a photographers assistant in New York at $12 a hour).

The degree is not the problem - the knowledge is required to really have a great career. The salaries are not the problem - they are in line with the work. It is the cost that is the problem which is why high quality, less expensive schools like New England College of Business and Finance are enjoying such success.

Go to school - just don't pay $200,000 for something that should, and can, cost $60,000

Thursday, September 9, 2010

MyCAA Associate's Degree

For those that have been fuming over the new changes to the MyCAA program from military spouses - there is hope! But only because the New England College of Business and Finance feels that military spouses deserve a break and feel it is their duty to support this amazing group of Americans.

They are offering a $4,000 Associate degree so that the MyCAA program will pay for the entire tuition. Note: that is $11,500 off the standard price for a regionally accredited degree. This is amazing and deserves some serious attention!

More can be found on the military education blog or at the NECB website on MyCAA.

Please tweet, blog and otherwise work hard to let our spouses know.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Homeschool: 32% military

Edumilitary is reporting that 32% of the 2,000,000 students homeschooled are from military families. That is 640,000 students! Wow - go military families!!

Sanity and Higher Ed

Could it be that sanity is creeping slowly into higher education? It appears so in this blog on paying for college about an op ed in the Dallas Morning News today. The recession is causing people to reflect on the benefits of dropping $200,000 so a person can "find themselves".

And more and more parents are wondering if it is worth paying so much money for a women's studies degree or a sports management degree. When they really look at it, the answer is no.

It would be wonderful if we could all spend four years having a blast and getting in touch with our strengths and weaknesses. But the reality is that you can't spend that kind of money or pile on that kind of college debt without some indication that you will get some return on your investment. In a tight job market - people with useful majors win.

College is too expensive to waste. Getting students to pay half so they understand the magnitude of the investment is a great idea. Even his son focusing on an arts degree is making sure that every course counts towards the degree in his chosen field.

Universities are going to have to adapt to the new reality - and adapting is not one of their strengths.