Student debt

HuffyCane

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The article makes a lot of presumptions and he clearly lacks a basic understanding of how modern universities operate and engage in decision making. But bomb throwing sometimes has its place. It doesn’t here.

He’d like to reduce admin levels by 90%, ok. Let’s talk about that. Who are we cutting? Can you get down to a 90% reduction and not impact IT operations? Food service? Landscaping? Those functions, using the metric proposed, measure one to one with the folks being paid $150,000 a year to organize pajama parties in the dorm. I get it he wants to fire the party planners. That’s not a lot of fat. Harvard employs more than 100 people in fundraising alone. ALL of them raise millions for the school and far beyond their overhead costs. We cutting those folks? You keep them and you are getting close to 10% quick. Food service, janitorial services, a lot of those workers go back decades and are multigenerational. Most made minimum wage, both at Harvard and TU until recently. You letting the lunch lady go?

Let’s say we can get down to 50% just for the sake of discussion. How do we cut further without cutting into the legal department’s and risk managements litigation defense complex? Office of Violence Prevention, Student Health Center, 24/7 sworn police, DEI, the list is endless. Most of these functions have a substantive purpose but they are also closely tied with an organizational foundation upon which a legal defense is built when a school like Harvard with billions in the bank must defend itself, often from its own students, but also others looking for a deep pocket and free lunch. It is also closely tied with messaging and communications. Shall we discuss Mizzou’s admissions numbers the last five years, near bankruptcy, state bail out due in part to their failure to properly fund DEI and then bungling the messaging once that became an issue on campus? The school will take decades to recover.

The lion’s share of admin functions boils down to raising money, providing services necessary to remain competitive in the admission/tuition game, staff a program after a major gift, and critical services necessary to defend lawsuits.

Raise money, Raise Tuition, Defend The Endowment. There’s a lot of people who take a look at billion dollar companies and say you need to fund those functions (revenue production and finance) fully before you add an obscure low demand product on the production side like overpaying for someone to teach ancient Portuguese dialects or whatever that nobody will buy and is a net loss.

This guy probably has an unspoken ax to grind with DEI programs. The reality is that prospective students demand them and you can’t effectively recruit without them, roughly a third or more of your students will require or request or participate in their services, and you could go bankrupt overnight without them.

For the curious, TU has a 50/50 balance on faculty to staff roughly. About 700 on each side. That won’t be going up soon and is dramatically lower in some functions than our peers.

Universities aren’t just a business. They are semi autonomous almost living beings. And like kids and governments, they can bankrupt you. But you need them and you find a way to pay for it.
 
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Gmoney4WW

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The article makes a lot of presumptions and he clearly lacks a basic understanding of how modern universities operate and engage in decision making. But bomb throwing sometimes has its place. It doesn’t here.

He’d like to reduce admin levels by 90%, ok. Let’s talk about that. Who are we cutting? Can you get down to a 90% reduction and not impact IT operations? Food service? Landscaping? Those functions, using the metric proposed, measure one to one with the folks being paid $150,000 a year to organize pajama parties in the dorm. I get it he wants to fire the party planners. That’s not a lot of fat. Harvard employs more than 100 people in fundraising alone. ALL of them raise millions for the school and far beyond their overhead costs. We cutting those folks? You keep them and you are getting close to 10% quick. Food service, janitorial services, a lot of those workers go back decades and are multigenerational. Most made minimum wage, both at Harvard and TU until recently. You letting the lunch lady go?

Let’s say we can get down to 50% just for the sake of discussion. How do we cut further without cutting into the legal department’s and risk managements litigation defense complex? Office of Violence Prevention, Student Health Center, 24/7 sworn police, DEI, the list is endless. Most of these functions have a substantive purpose but they are also closely tied with an organizational foundation upon which a legal defense is built when a school like Harvard with billions in the bank must defend itself, often from its own students, but also others looking for a deep pocket and free lunch. It is also closely tied with messaging and communications. Shall we discuss Mizzou’s admissions numbers the last five years, near bankruptcy, state bail out and their failure to properly fund DEI and then bungling the messaging once that became an issue on campus? The school will take decades to recover.

The lion’s share of admin functions boils down to raising money, providing services necessary to remain competitive in the admission/tuition game, staff a program after a major gift, and critical services necessary to defend lawsuits.

Raise money, Raise Tuition, Defend The Endowment. There’s a lot of people who take a look at billion dollar companies and say you need to fund those functions (revenue production and finance) fully before you add an obscure low demand product on the production side like overpaying for someone to teach ancient Portuguese dialects or whatever that nobody will buy and is a net loss.

This guy probably has an unspoken ax to grind with DEI programs. The reality is that prospective students demand them and you can’t effectively recruit without them, roughly a third or more of your students will require or request or participate in their services, and you could go bankrupt overnight without them.

For the curious, TU has a 50/50 balance on faculty to staff roughly. About 700 on each side. That won’t be going up soon and is dramatically lower in some functions than our peers.

Universities aren’t just a business. They are semi autonomous almost living beings. And like kids and governments, they can bankrupt you. But you need them and you find a way to pay for it.
So you think the majority of administrative costs are justifiable and necessary? By the way, I was thinking more along the lines of a cut of 10-25% of administrative expenditures, not 50-90%
 

lawpoke87

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90% is obviously too high. My question…if Admin costs are reasonable and have been in place for decades then why has the cost of attendance increased at the rate we’ve seen over the last 20 plus years?
 

aTUfan

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la la land
ways to cut student debt:
1. get a scholorship
2. work and save for college.
3. go to community college.
4. dont buy a car with your loan
 

HuffyCane

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So you think the majority of administrative costs are justifiable and necessary? By the way, I was thinking more along the lines of a cut of 10-25% of administrative expenditures, not 50-90%
Can’t speak for Harvard, but TU is lean. Too lean and could use strategic investment in certain functions to increase non-tuition revenue, improve undergraduate retention, reinvigorate the law school, and re-acquire a competitive market share of international students.

An admissions counselor making $50,000 who is assigned to process interest from students abroad makes no sense if they are passive and only 5 apply a year and the net tuition after cost of attendance is less than $50,000 total. A Dean of World Outreach and International Programs that gets paid $250,000 as a former high level diplomat that goes out and inks deals with foreign governments that nets millions for the school makes a lot of sense. But if you ask guys like the one that wrote the article which function should be cut, he will say there are too many deans.

Don’t get me wrong. I spend a lot of time over on the pay board talking about shared governance between admin, faculty, and trustees. Trustees perform an invaluable function contributing to an atmosphere of internal accountability while fostering community ties. Guys like this one are a good example of why trustees should never run a university and when their voices become oversized or they venture into roles they have no business performing, there is a loss of alignment and devastating damage can be done.

You wanna cut 25% of admin? How much of that is athletics? Cause that’s counted as admin on many campuses.
 

HuffyCane

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90% is obviously too high. My question…if Admin costs are reasonable and have been in place for decades then why has the cost of attendance increased at the rate we’ve seen over the last 20 plus years?
They haven’t always been in place for decades. The IT department didn’t exist in 1990 or was a stand alone computer lab with a few low cost personal computers and a printer. Now it’s a 24/7 operation with Wi-Fi, network, help desk, and on some campus a repair shop. Any school with a brain must fund a robust cybersecurity framework that is around the clock protecting the network but also training and messaging staff and students on worldwide threats. One idiot faculty member on study abroad on the wrong public Wi-Fi with their phone can cause multimillion dollars worth of damage, loss of reputation and student privacy lawsuits stretching out decades. And that’s before we talk avoit the state and non state actors affiliated with competitors and adversaries like Russia and China who try to exploit universities networks around the clock.

In 1997, the health clinic on a college campus is where you went if you had a sore throat or the flu and wanted to see a nurse. Now it’s not only an urgent care center with doctors, but a mental health clinic, sexual health outreach effort, rape crisis response unit, Asperbergers/Autism accommodation facility, etc. And kids will go elsewhere if you don’t have it.

There are multiple reasons for the increased costs: unfunded faculty pensions, over promised employee benefits, poor management, government money interfering with the market, outright greed and graft on fearful and vulnerable and self obsessed parents, etc. But mainly it’s spending to remain competitive and pay off the constituencies that keep you in business and power as an administrator. If you’ve got $2 billion in the back and everyone knows it, then the students expect a palace resort and the faculty expect top dollar, both cause runaway costs. If kids won’t pay it and the school can’t raise it and the market is down, you turn to government to make up the costs. Depending on the party in power and economic/national security needs, that’s been either grants, giveaways and pork or loans or tuition hikes or tax free savings plans.
 
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Gmoney4WW

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Can’t speak for Harvard, but TU is lean. Too lean and could use strategic investment in certain functions to increase non-tuition revenue, improve undergraduate retention, reinvigorate the law school, and re-acquire a competitive market share of international students.

An admissions counselor making $50,000 who is assigned to process interest from students abroad makes no sense if they are passive and only 5 apply a year and the net tuition after cost of attendance is less than $50,000 total. A Dean of World Outreach and International Programs that gets paid $250,000 as a former high level diplomat that goes out and inks deals with foreign governments that nets millions for the school makes a lot of sense. But if you ask guys like the one that wrote the article which function should be cut, he will say there are too many deans.

Don’t get me wrong. I spend a lot of time over on the pay board talking about shared governance between admin, faculty, and trustees. Trustees perform an invaluable function contributing to an atmosphere of internal accountability while fostering community ties. Guys like this one are a good example of why trustees should never run a university and when their voices become oversized or they venture into roles they have no business performing, there is a loss of alignment and devastating damage can be done.

You wanna cut 25% of admin? How much of that is athletics? Cause that’s counted as admin on many campuses.
That 10-25% is variable at different universities, second it should be tied to overall cost of the university, and third I would say it should that % should be tied to studies that I haven't had the chance to read. Overall, I'd have to see a study on universities across the nation to say where the base percentage(to move up and down on in small increments) would be.

Maybe 10% would be to low to start out at, maybe 25% would be too high. Maybe not. I'd just have to read the studies to know that. But that lesser range would be where I'd start at before reading the studies.(not 50-90%)

So do you think TU just needs to rearrange some of its administrative costs, or raise them.
 

HuffyCane

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That 10-25% is variable at different universities, second it should be tied to overall cost of the university, and third I would say it should that % should be tied to studies that I haven't had the chance to read. Overall, I'd have to see a study on universities across the nation to say where the base percentage(to move up and down on in small increments) would be.

Maybe 10% would be to low to start out at, maybe 25% would be too high. Maybe not. I'd just have to read the studies to know that. But that lesser range would be where I'd start at before reading the studies.(not 50-90%)

So do you think TU just needs to rearrange some of its administrative costs, or raise them.
TU needs to let the Carson team reallocate administrative resources to reduce waste, produce revenue, and create a synergetic effect. They have been doing that and the effects, in some ways, are starting to net results.

Cutting for cuttings sake makes no sense. This isn’t corporate America. There’s no short term stock price to goose. And cutting in the wrong areas can devastate production from your primary unrestricted income source - tuition paid beyond cost of education.

You got to bolster areas that are net generators like fundraising, then cap programs that are revenue spenders but without effecting consumer perceptions. It’s a tightrope.

TU could and should spend about 10% to 15% more on certain areas that net income, remove leadership and reorganize other areas that are net losers, and look for low cost off campus local alternatives for certain services. Carson is doing a lot of this while keeping staffing the same.
 
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Gmoney4WW

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That 10-25% is variable at different universities, second it should be tied to overall cost of the university, and third I would say it should that % should be tied to studies that I haven't had the chance to read. Overall, I'd have to see a study on universities across the nation to say where the base percentage(to move up and down on in small increments) would be.

Maybe 10% would be to low to start out at, maybe 25% would be too high. Maybe not. I'd just have to read the studies to know that. But that lesser range would be where I'd start at before reading the studies.(not 50-90%)

So do you think TU just needs to rearrange some of its administrative costs, or raise them.
@HuffyCane

cont...
I say variable at different universities because you don't want to force our universities to the mean. We don't want to go from having a small percentage of really good universities, to an almost all encompassing group of average universities. That would be criminal to force all universities to the mean. That would mean placing schools in categories.
 

HuffyCane

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@HuffyCane

cont...
I say variable at different universities because you don't want to force our universities to the mean. We don't want to go from having a small percentage of really good universities, to an almost all encompassing group of average universities. That would be criminal to force all universities to the mean. That would mean placing schools in categories.
The spending has to fit the mission of the school. Having a Dean of International Students at Central Texas Community College makes no sense and should be cut if the only reason it exists is because the President wants it to become Central Texas University so they can move up to a better gig.
 

drboobay

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Sales is the life blood of most organizations and for universities I presume that equates to fund raisers and student recruiters. Of course they also need an attractive product or service to sell (or at least one that APPEARS attractive)!
 

astonmartin708

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They haven’t always been in place for decades. The IT department didn’t exist in 1990 or was a stand alone computer lab with a few low cost personal computers and a printer. Now it’s a 24/7 operation with Wi-Fi, network, help desk, and on some campus a repair shop. Any school with a brain must fund a robust cybersecurity framework that is around the clock protecting the network but also training and messaging staff and students on worldwide threats. One idiot faculty member on study abroad on the wrong public Wi-Fi with their phone can cause multimillion dollars worth of damage, loss of reputation and student privacy lawsuits stretching out decades. And that’s before we talk avoit the state and non state actors affiliated with competitors and adversaries like Russia and China who try to exploit universities networks around the clock.

In 1997, the health clinic on a college campus is where you went if you had a sore throat or the flu and wanted to see a nurse. Now it’s not only an urgent care center with doctors, but a mental health clinic, sexual health outreach effort, rape crisis response unit, Asperbergers/Autism accommodation facility, etc. And kids will go elsewhere if you don’t have it.

There are multiple reasons for the increased costs: unfunded faculty pensions, over promised employee benefits, poor management, government money interfering with the market, outright greed and graft on fearful and vulnerable and self obsessed parents, etc. But mainly it’s spending to remain competitive and pay off the constituencies that keep you in business and power as an administrator. If you’ve got $2 billion in the back and everyone knows it, then the students expect a palace resort and the faculty expect top dollar, both cause runaway costs. If kids won’t pay it and the school can’t raise it and the market is down, you turn to government to make up the costs. Depending on the party in power and economic/national security needs, that’s been either grants, giveaways and pork or loans or tuition hikes or tax free savings plans.
No one, and I mean no one, was choosing their school for the rape counseling services on campus… if anything, the fact that such a thing might be needed makes the university look worse. Probably not something you want to advertise in the pamphlets lol.
 

Gmoney4WW

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The spending has to fit the mission of the school. Having a Dean of International Students at Central Texas Community College makes no sense and should be cut if the only reason it exists is because the President wants it to become Central Texas University so they can move up to a better gig.

The government needs to limit the cost to %'s of overall cost, to the ratio of administrative costs. The way they can do that is to base how much federal and state aid the university is eligible for, that their students can get. Put variable figures to individual universities, based on that ratio. That will make a lot of universities pay more attention to this issue in their budget.

@HuffyCane wouldn't mind your opinion on this, and how feasible it would be for the government to put something this into action.

That 10-25% is variable at different universities, second it should be tied to overall cost of the university, and third I would say it should that % should be tied to studies that I haven't had the chance to read. Overall, I'd have to see a study on universities across the nation to say where the base percentage(to move up and down on in small increments) would be.

Maybe 10% would be to low to start out at, maybe 25% would be too high. Maybe not. I'd just have to read the studies to know that. But that lesser range would be where I'd start at before reading the studies.(not 50-90%)

So do you think TU just needs to rearrange some of its administrative costs, or raise them.

@HuffyCane

cont...
I say variable at different universities because you don't want to force our universities to the mean. We don't want to go from having a small percentage of really good universities, to an almost all encompassing group of average universities. That would be criminal to force all universities to the mean. That would mean placing schools in categories.

I don't think you quite understood that my post was referring to my former posts above. In my first above quoted post I proposed a system. In a system like I proposed, I was referring to how much federal & state aid would be allotted to individual universities as a reward or penalty for the university, that would be given to their students that year.(maybe take that ratio every 5 years, and reallot aid awards) That would be based on how much the ratio of total cost was to the administrative costs.

If they admitted them to the school, they would be required to keep that commitment, if the student decided to attend the university. That way the school wouldn't be able to pick and choose students based on how little aid they were given. This way the awards would be based on the financial situation of the students, but when the schools allotment ran out, they wouldn't be able to give anymore students aid. That way they couldn't offer them lesser aid in order to see how many students would pay the remainder. School scholarships would have to be offered first, with a guarantee of the $ amount, before the financial aid was awarded. Such that the school would be required to cut or increase enrollment, based on how good or bad their total cost/administrative cost ratio was.

When I said variable, I was stipulating that there would be different categories of regulations for different types of schools,(better ratios allowed for the school) such that we didn't force our better schools to homogenize themselves down to an average school. This is the point I was making above, the school would be the ones deciding what cuts to make. This would just be there as a protective measure to ensure that we didn't lose quality in our better schools. The government would just be using this as a tool to cut excessive overall costs of going to school.
 
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HuffyCane

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Sales is the life blood of most organizations and for universities I presume that equates to fund raisers and student recruiters. Of course they also need an attractive product or service to sell (or at least one that APPEARS attractive)!
It’s less about sales as it is leveraging the perceived value provided to customers. You have to give the same experience/value to students whether they are paying full price, getting aid, or been granted a tuition discount. For private schools, nearly all of them will eventually go under unless some people are asked to pay more so others can go for free. And that’s really the rub isn’t it. People aren’t dumb, the ones paying know they are being told to pay extra to essentially put their kid through school and part of another kid. In good times, if the value is there, parents are ok with that. Some even welcome it as a bit of a status enhancer. When times are tough, like now, during a time when parents have begun to question the value of a degree in the marketplace and the value of a university experience when kids are increasingly boomeranging back home and resemble nothing like the child that left, then you aren’t selling the school, you are selling the idea that your credential has a tangible/intangible value sufficiently high to overcome the subjective concerns of each parent who is writing a check. It has little to do with selling the school or recruiting talent. It’s closer to marketing ROI. The remainder of the recruiting pool is largely making their decision based upon external factors beyond your control so any “sales” to them is deemphasized. That’s the idea anyway, at least amongst the people who actually watch how the bills are paid.
 

aTUfan

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you chose to go to a college and incure a large debt so why do i have to pay for it.
i paid for my children's college and now contributing to my grandkids. its your turn to return the favor. send your money to me at kissmyaxx.com
 

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