Tag: forbes

Long Live the Hated College Rankings!

Hooray, the U.S. News and World Report college rankings are out! No, they aren’t perfect – Creighton probably isn’t slightly better than Butler, or Berkeley than UVA – but the relative standings of schools is but one piece of information U.S. News provides to help both consumers and the publication’s bottom line. You know, a win-win. Indeed, most of the information that President Obama thinks Washington needs to publish, at least according to the “fact sheet” to go with his recent college tour, is already provided by U.S. News. You will have to pay $30 for access to all of it, but that’s a microscopic investment compared to the six-figure choice many prospective students will be making.

Let’s run the presidential rating-items list:

  • “Percentage of students receiving Pell grants”: Check!
  • “Average tuition”: Check!
  • “Scholarships”: Check and check!
  • “Loan debt”: Roger that!
  • “Graduation…rates”: Better believe those are checks!
  • “Transfer rates”: Not exactly check, but close.
  • “Graduate earnings”: OK, not in U.S. News, but readily available right here!
  • “Advanced degrees of college graduates”: Here’s the only clear non-check for easy data availability. U.S. News’ “graduation and retention” sections for each college have many advanced study categories, but most don’t give data.

Other than specifics about transfer rates, advanced studies pursued by a school’s graduates, and graduates’ earnings, everything the White House wants to use for ratings is on the U.S. News site. And of those missing items, U.S. News offers a decent approximation for one and PayScale gives you the other. Oh, and U.S. News furnishes tons of additional information the fact sheet doesn’t mention, including rankings of undergraduate business and engineering programs; schools with the most emphasis on teaching; student body ethnic diversity; student housing; and much more.

Of course, again, U.S. News isn’t perfect. Which is why it is so great that it has lots of competitors, including Forbes, The Princeton Review, Washington Monthly, and more. In other words, the market provides, and we don’t need more government “help.” Indeed, what we need from government is much, much less.

Hooray for the Rankings!

The following is cross-posted from SeeThruEdu.com, a new blog analyzing higher education:

Heaven knows there are oodles of problems with American higher education – and you’ll get them all thoroughly dissected, diagnosed, and wellness plans delivered at SeeThruEdu – but I want to start my blogging here on a positive note. At least, a relatively positive note: American higher education is way closer to a free market than our moribund elementary and secondary system, and there’s no better sign of that than the oft-maligned U.S. News and World Report college rankings released last week.

Just like higher education generally, the U.S. News rankings have huge problems. Heck, Emory University admitted to having sent inflated SAT and ACT scores, as well as class ranks, to the publication for years. As a result, in the latest rankings Emory moved…not one bit. The school stayed as number 20 among “national universities,” and U.S. News apparently just accepted the data Emory submitted this time based on the school having “confirmed” them. More broadly, the rankings are based far more on inputs such as endowment funds, and dubious academic reputation surveys, than measures of what students actually learn.

But the good news isn’t the perfection of the U.S. News rankings. It’s what their very existence signifies: Higher ed consumers have real power, and institutions are sufficiently independent that they can both compete with one another and specialize in the needs of different students. It’s why not only do the U.S. News rankings exist, they are essentially the magazine’s flagship publication.

And college rankings are hardly restricted to U.S. News. Countless rankings and reviews are out there, giving prospective students and their parents myriad ways to slice and dice their options. No doubt the best of these – because of who’s in charge of them – comes from fellow SeeThruEdu blogger, and higher ed gadfly extraordinaire, Richard Vedder, whose Forbes.com rankings assess schools using alumni success and costs. The Princeton Review will tell you where students have their noses most to the grindstone, or most obscured by beer-filled Solo cups. And the Associated Press just profiled two new entrants, one which ranks schools based on “revealed preference” – which schools students choose when accepted to multiple institutions – and one based on alumni satisfaction. And there are many, many more!

Unfortunately, part of the reason rankings are in such incredible abundance is that there is way too much consumer power in higher ed, if by power we mean money. Basically, students can demand all sorts of extravagant things (I need my massages and water park!) because third-parties –  most notably the federal government – give them wads of cash to do so. Indeed, higher education is massively inefficient as a result of humongous subsidies both directly to schools and to students. But that will be the subject of many, far less giddy posts from me in the future. For now, a bit of a happy note: Hooray for the college rankings! Things in higher education could actually be worse!

How ObamaCare Threw Gays, Immigrants under the Bus

In the wake of Senate Democrats’ inability to break a GOP filibuster of the defense appropriations bill, to which Democrats hoped to attach the pro-immigration Dream Act and a repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, the Reason Foundation’s Shikha Dalmia writes in Forbes:

But if Harry Reid was the proximate cause of this bill’s demise, ObamaCare was the fundamental cause. The ugly, hardball tactics that Democrats deployed to shove this unpopular legislation down everyone’s throat have so poisoned the well on Capitol Hill that Democrats have no good will left to make strategic alliances on even reasonable legislation anymore. When a party has such huge majorities, even small gestures of reconciliation are enough to splinter the ranks of opponents and obtain cooperation. But Democrats played the game of our way or the highway with ObamaCare, ignoring warnings that this would render them completely impotent for the rest of President Obama’s term. Indeed, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina,who had been working with Senator Chuck Schumer of New York to craft comprehensive immigration reform, gave up in disgust in the wake of ObamaCare.

How ironic that a president who got elected on the promise of bipartisan comity has produced nothing but partisan rancor. And his signature legislation that was supposed to save America’s most vulnerable has begun by throwing them under the bus.

Dalmia assigns Republicans their (ample) share of the blame, too.  Read the whole thing.

Income-based Taxpayer Ripoff

Great stuff on Forbes.com today by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity’s Daniel Bennett. Bennett examines the income-based student-loan repayment provisions attached to the health-care reconciliation law, and itemizes how much of their monthly repayment bill borrowers in most federal loan programs will be able to skip out on, leaving taxpayers holding the bag.

Check out Bennett’s entire, handy chart in the article to see the savings for numerous levels of debt and income, and I’ll just highlight the savings for borrowers with $25,000 in debt – slightly more than the average for those graduates who have any debt.

Basically, any single person at that debt level making below a little more than $60,000 a year would see savings under IBR. A federal loan of $25,000, with a 6.8 percent interest rate, would normally carry a monthly repayment of $383. But a person earning $60,000 a year would only pay $365 under IBR, a $19 monthly savings. And, of course, the IBR savings to the borrower – and loss to the taxpayer – gets bigger as income goes down.

Oh, and that’s really only half the story: While anyone with a federal loan (excluding PLUS loans) is now eligible for IBR, if you go into saintly non-profit work – including assuming the incredible hardships of working for the government – your remaining loan balance will be forgiven after only ten years of on-time payments, versus twenty for any devil who dares produce things for which people voluntarily pay!