But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep...
"Affordability for students here and at the University's four coordinate campuses remains a primary concern for the Bruininks administration. In 2009, the president announced the rebranding and expansion of the University's need-based aid strategy to include guaranteed aid for all Minnesota students from low- and middle-income families." (source)
Here's the start of an investigation into the shell game that is the so-called Promise Scholarships at the University of Minnesota. These have been held up as an answer to the dilemma posed by a high tuition model at the U. Supposedly students with great financial needs would be sheltered from the devastating costs of college and the resulting staggering debt loads.
The promise is an illusion.
To begin this discussion results may be found below for a cost comparison between two public universities, the University of Minnesota and the University of North Carolina. These results were obtained by entering data in forms provided by both universities on the web to estimate the actual cost of attendance, as well as debt load. If you'd like to try it yourself, go here and sign in as "guest."
Then fill out the forms for these colleges making sure that the so called AGI is zero, so that the student/parents are absolutely unable to contribute to the cost of education. You should get the following numbers. I intend to discuss them in a little more detail shortly, but the results are striking and indicate that Promise Scholarships need re-thinking. The net cost at the U of M is $11,268 and the student/parent is expected to borrow $8,600 per year for a staggering four year debt of $34,400.
Contrast this to the situation at the University of North Carolina where a student with the same financial resources would see a net cost of $2,700 with loans of ZERO to the student/parent.
Some quibbles may be made over this analysis but it is obvious that something smells bad in Morrill Hall and it is not the President's fish.
To illustrate the challenge of getting Morrill Hall to face reality, see a portion of the short video of President Bruininks being interviewed by Esme Murphy this morning on 'CCO. Truly a Five Pinocchio performance.
1. Very few universities have not seen a marked increase in applications: More than 28,000 students applied to be part of UW-Madison's freshman class in the fall, a record number and the biggest increase in at least 20 years
2. The Promise Scholarship pot of gold - $350 million - at 5% will yield $70 per student based on an enrollment of 25,000 undergrads.
3. President Bruininks has the chutzpah to claim: "The quality of education is better now today than it has been in any of the 42 years that I have been at the University of Minnesota."
There is plenty of evidence to counter the President's claim, for example:
a. "As for commitment to quality education at an affordable cost? Meaningless drivel. The administration has flatly failed on its promises of excellence and affordability." Daily (13 Oct 2009)
b. "Davis-Blake said that quality is going down because the quality of the student experience has declined, which is related to uncontrollable central costs. At the Carlson School, they have fewer TAs, fewer classes, more students in classes, the building is less clean, there are fewer advisers, they have more adjuncts, and they have less information technology. All of these things are happening." Former Carlson School Dean Davis-Blake who has left for Michigan.
There will be more on this in due course. We have a lot of work to do at the University of Minnesota so that we can be an institution of which the state can be proud. I hope the next administration does a much better job and re-establishes our land grant priorities.
However it is important to face up to our problems and not try to sweep them under the rug. This strategy has been a dismal failure.