Tuesday, February 19, 2019

America's Most Endangered Private Colleges in 2019


Related article: Endangered Colleges include HBCUs, Small Religious Colleges (2016)
Related article: Another American College to Close (Bryan Alexander, 2019)
Related article: Private College Revenues and the US College Meltdown (2018)
Related article: College Meltdown Shows Few Signs of Slowing (2019)


In 2016, Jeff Selingo and EY published a report stating that more than 800 US colleges were facing major downsizing, mergers, and closures. But their report did not list the schools most likely to fail. It would appear that higher education and business insiders, including government agencies and credit rating agencies, know which schools are likely to merge or fail, but they are unwilling to share it with the public.

The Department of Education publishes a list of schools in financial trouble, called the Heightened Cash Monitoring List, but the list is small and is not the best predictor of future school failures. The PEPS School Closings list is helpful, but it's most often a post-mortem of colleges that have already failed.

Would it be possible to create a list by examining just a few variables? I would suggest these variables, in combination, when looking at the survivability of individual US private colleges:

Enrollment <1000 students, and at least
Five consecutive years of student enrollment losses, and at least
Five consecutive years of revenue declines, and
Revenue declines of more than 15% over the last 5 years, and
Endowments less than $5 million

What variables do you think should be included? And what are the intangibles that must be considered? For example, HBCUs have been able to survive for decades despite lack of government support. Loss of accreditation, on the other hand, can be a death sentence for almost any college.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Deceived by DeVry

Subprime DeVry University Continues to Deceive Consumers
In 2019, DeVry University continues to deceive consumers through its DeVry website and online recruiting. As a subsidiary of Cogswell Education and Palm Ventures, a shoe-string operation in comparison to its previous parent company, matters could get worse. This briefing illustrates some of Devry’s current deceptive practices.

Lack of Transparency Used For Location Bait and Switch 
As a selling tool, DeVry University claims to have more than 45 convenient locations. However, it has closed about 50 campuses and learning sites between 2011 and 2019. Closures have occurred in cities throughout the U.S., including Pittsburgh, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Memphis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Portland (OR), Seattle, St. Louis, and Tampa. DeVry’s campus closing determinations have been far from transparent, even to employees
In January 2018, several DeVry schools we believed were planned for closure remained on the “Find a Location Nearest You” map. These locations included Anaheim, Bakersfield, Cherry Hill, Colorado Springs, Dayton, Oakland, Oklahoma City, and Palmdale. By July 2018, all of of these learning locations were reported to the US Department of Education as closed schools. While these locations have been removed from DeVry’s map, prospective students had been led to believe that the locations existed.
Typically, the school closing process, known as “teach out,” takes 12-18 months. But in the case of DeVry’s closings, teach outs have occurred with less warning, leaving students and teachers little time to react to their campus closings. This lack of transparency has also allowed DeVry to sell its convenient locations even as it plans to close campuses that may be closest to prospective students. With a recent history of campus closings and the sale of DeVry to Cogswell Education, we anticipate several additional closings of “convenient” but unprofitable learning locations that may already be slated for closure.

Financial Aid Bait and Switch
DeVry has advertised a variety of loan options, including Federal Direct Loans, Federal PLUS Loans, Perkins Loans, and private student loans.
Although DeVry provides a list of potential lenders for private student loans, interest rate information does not appear to be readily available from the site.
When consumers use the Department of Education's College Navigator to get the net price for DeVry, they are redirected to a DeVry lead generator.
Pricing inconsistencies exist. One anonymous DeVry insider said this about the pricing:
There are three completely different total program costs potentially given to prospective students and differing lengths of the programs."
"DeVry’s admissions advisor’s cost calculator used to sell DVU on the phone, shows one amount. The website’s tuition chart lists something totally different, and finally the academic catalogue lists a third completely different figure with students."
"Also most admissions advisors are telling prospective students it is possible to complete a bachelor’s degree in 2 years 8 months! Then Student Finance tells students the truth that its 4 years at best due to lack of course availability and practicality (not taking 20 credit semesters). The catalogue info backs up Student Finance."
"I can’t understand how DOE or someone hasn’t caught that yet. You could call an advisor today go through their admissions planning and get cost 1, then look in the website tuition chart for 2, then look in the catalogue for a 3rd totally different cost and time est. your advisor just told you."
Former DeVry students owe more than $12 billion in student loan debt. The 5-year student loan default rate at DeVry is 43 percent. 

TechPath and Other Claims about Cutting Edge Technology
DeVry leads its potential customers to believe they will be learning innovative skills using cutting edge technology. DeVry advertises its TechPath program, a “distinctive learning approach that grew out of the understanding that students need a different kind of education to prepare them for a world that’s tech-intent, constantly changing and connected as never been through the digital mesh.”
DeVry insiders, however, have reported that campuses have not kept up with technology. And online teaching may be counterproductive for many students.
Brookings Institution Research indicates that the average DeVry University student takes two-thirds of his or her courses online with negative effects on course GPAs and persistence.

Decline in Educational Quality
Teaching staff have reported that educational quality has declined significantly as online class sizes increased. One former instructor stated:

“And, with the cap removed, faculty were teaching 40 or more students in online classes in a cultural contest that promoted the student to customer, obviating any faculty authority to establish rules and at times, even basic human decency. The ax, ever ready to fall on our necks, had us all rather desperately seeking other employment, while doing all we could to "persist" (pass) students with the highest possible grades, futilely hoping to preserve our ECE (student evaluation) scores. Students who lacked skill, who couldn't even submit work, their backs to the wall, often lashed out verbally and in the evaluation process. A student caught plagiarizing could get pay back at evaluation time, and they did….”

A former instructional designer who worked at DeVry more than five years added that "You will not have a voice...DeVry "used to be innovative and desired to push the edges of online education courses with creative solutions to interactivity...but leadership changed and bean counters began shaving copper at the downfall of the student learning experience...such a sad demise from the glory days."

DeVry Claims to be Military Friendly 

DeVry enrollment representatives claim that DeVry is military friendly, and the website states “[f]rom training Army Air Corps instructors on electronic devices in the 1940’s to being one of the first schools approved to accept the original G.I. Bill following WWII, we’ve been education and supporting America’s military personnel and the veteran community for decades.”

However, VA’s GI Bill Comparison Tool reveals more than 200 student complaints, as well as a caution warning related to the recent Federal Trade Commission settlement and how the school is operating under Heightened Cash Monitoring.

While DeVry campuses claim to offer various veterans programs, including VetSuccess on Campus, 8 Keys to Veteran Success, and a Student Veteran Group, one DeVry employee stated that "Students are tossed around by an organization that doesn't care nor have a clue of what it's doing. Disabled Veterans ADA Accommodations are not properly managed or enforced."

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

College Meltdown Shows Few Signs of Slowing in 2019

The US College Meltdown has been occurring for at least eight years, and there are few signs that it will slow down in 2019. 

Image below: Members of student debt group "I Am Ai" protesting fraud by the Art Institutes. (Credit: Ami Schneider)





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