Saturday, August 22, 2015

Free College For Who?

A week or so ago, Hillary Clinton laid out her $350 billion proposal for free college.  Click here to see a post on this topic from last week.

Now take a look at the following information from the National Center for Education Statistics:

"The 2013 6-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time undergraduate students who began their pursuit of a bachelor's degree at a 4-year degree-granting institution in fall 2007 was 59 percent. That is, 59 percent of first-time, full-time students who began seeking a bachelor's degree at a 4-year institution in fall 2007 completed the degree at that institution by 2013. 

Among first-time, full-time undergraduate students who began seeking a bachelor's degree at a 4-year degree- granting institution in fall 2007, the 6-year graduation rate was 58 percent at public institutions, 65 percent at private nonprofit institutions, and 32 percent at private for-profit institutions. 

The 6-year graduation rate was 56 percent for males and 62 percent for females; it was higher for females than for males at both public (60 vs. 55 percent) and private nonprofit institutions (68 vs. 62 percent). However, at private for-profit institutions males had a higher graduation rate than females (36 vs. 28 percent). 

 Six-year graduation rates for first-time, full-time students who began seeking a bachelor's degree in fall 2007 varied according to institutions' level of selectivity. In particular, graduation rates were highest at postsecondary degree-granting institutions that were the most selective (i.e., had the lowest admissions acceptance rates), and graduation rates were lowest at institutions that were the least selective (i.e., had open admissions policies). For example, at 4-year institutions with open admissions policies, 34 percent of students completed a bachelor's degree within 6 years. At 4-year institutions where the acceptance rate was less than 25 percent of applicants, the 6-year graduation rate was 89 percent."

This data begs at least a few questions of Hillary's plan.

First, does her $350 billon cost projection take into account that it's taking 2 years longer than prescribed to graduate roughly 60% of the students?

If not, does that mean the cost of her free college program would really be $525 billion (350 x 1.5) and that 40% or $210 billion of that total would be wasted on students who still hadn't graduated after six years?

What about those who graduate but are completely unprepared to contribute? A Wall Street Journal article from earlier this year suggested that 40% of U.S .college students graduate without the complex reasoning skills necessary to do white collar work.  That's another $126 billion down the drain for a total $326 billion wasted, which is almost equal to the $350 billion originally proposed.

And is 'come-one-come-all' really the right approach since the selective colleges do a much better job of graduating students?  

Shouldn't all colleges have to raise their selection criteria to improve the odds that students will graduate?

And what about this chart:

  It's a partial list (64 out of 98) of the historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the United States along with their respective six year graduation rates.

The details of the Mrs. Clinton's free college plan indicate that $25 billion will be given to HBCUs to help combat their modest endowments.

But what about their modest graduation rates?  Shouldn't the schools first have to combat those before receiving more free money?

And is Texas Southern going to get as much money as Spelman?  If so, why?

This free college deal looks like it's going to get pretty expensive.

The personal and political benefits to Mrs. Clinton for proposing such a scheme are obvious.  She gets votes and it doesn't cost her a thing.

If only the rest of us were so lucky.


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