Post-secondary educational institutions are facing
unprecedented challenges. They include declining enrollment rates,
affordability concerns, mounting regulatory pressure, the resumption
of student loan payments, and now the reversal of affirmative action
in admissions. And as many parents and prospective students are
asking if a college education is really worth the investment,
educational institutions are feeling increasing pressure to prove
In episode 31 of the Market
Pulse podcast, I interviewed Lori
Lindenberg, District Director of Enterprise Analytics and Strategy
at Maricopa Community Colleges
in Arizona. She explained how her institution is meeting these
challenges head on.
Listen to our full podcast interview or continue reading for
an excerpt from our discussion.
Addressing Affordability Concerns
Lori, when you were talking about Maricopa's mission, you
also touched on affordability. And we know this is a rising concern
for prospective students and their parents, even more so in a
challenging economy. Just think, in 1980 the price to attend a
four-year college full-time was $10,000 annually, including tuition,
fees, room and board, and adjusted for inflation, according to the
National Center for Education Statistics.
By 2020, the total price increased to $28,775. That's a 180%
increase. How has Maricopa been impacted by affordability concerns,
and what steps are you taking to address this very real and valid issue?
Lori Lindenberg: We recognize that the
cost of going to college is a real concern. In fact, we found
that 18% of our incoming prospective students have chosen not to
enroll with us because they're concerned about the cost of coming
to college. And it's even higher when we look at our underserved
students at 23%.
However, the two-year institutions in Arizona have done a
particularly good job of keeping costs low. So even with a recent
modest increase to our tuition rates, Arizona two-year institutions
have been able to keep this low at nearly $500 lower than the
national average when you look at the net tuition revenue per student.
So, we're really proud of our ability to do that and it's been
something that we've prioritized.
We’re really encouraged by some recent changes to what we're
allowed to do for our students. A recent bill passed that allows us to
discount student tuition for dual enrollment students who are low
income. And for Pell eligible students, their grants completely cover
tuition and their fees most of the time. So, they're not leaving us
with a lot of burden from student loan debt.
In addition to keeping all of these costs low, we’re
committed to helping our students find financial support when they
need it. We have a lot of scholarship opportunities, and we have
an active foundation that's associated with our district.
Proving the ROI of a Post-Secondary Education
To stay competitive, schools must prove the value of the
amount that people are spending on education, especially when
they're making such a significant investment. And on top of that,
there's mounting regulatory pressure for higher education
institutions to prove the value of their degree programs. For
example, Ohio Bill 27 requires that an in-state, post-secondary
school provide financial costs in a disclosure, as well as an income
range of similar cohorts of students post-graduation to provide
greater transparency of anticipated costs and the value of a degree.
Does the industry anticipate similar regulation coming from
other states? And how does Maricopa navigate this landscape?
Lori Lindenberg: I think that we’re expecting
increased pressure from federal requirements and state requirements
in the future, but that also isn't new. We are under that pressure
from external partners and as a requirement of certain funding
sources to provide that data. And this is really where we've
received the most benefit and value from our partnership with Equifax.
There's a lot of data pieces that we’re required to report
as a part of this funding and with our external partners that we
just didn't have access to before. So, using Equifax's match to our
student records, we're able to find their wage outcomes and provide
that as part of our reporting to external partners and as a part of
the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. In fact, WIOA programs
are required to report second quarter and fourth quarter wages, and
we're able to do that through our use of the Equifax wage outcomes data.
To learn more about how Equifax is supporting colleges and
universities, visit here.
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