Category: Costs

The U.S. Senate’s bipartisan “task force” committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, chaired by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), released its report on ways Congress and the U.S. Department of Education could streamline and hopefully reduce federal regulations now overwhelming America’s 6,000 colleges and universities–especially the nation’s approximately 4,000 private institutions–while still protecting students and holding schools accountable to taxpayers.

According to the committee’s press release, “The task force’s objective was to provide specific recommendations on reducing, eliminating or streamlining duplicative, costly or confusing regulations and reporting requirements to Congress and the administration in anticipation of the ninth reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.”

Senate education committee Chairman Alexander said, “The stack of federal regulations on colleges and universities today, which stretches as tall as I am, is simply the piling up of well-intentioned laws and regulations, done without anyone first weeding the garden. This report will guide our efforts to weed the garden and allow colleges to spend more of their time and money educating students, instead of filling out mountains of paperwork.”

Alexander announced a hearing on February 24 to discuss the findings of the report.

You can read the committee’s report here in pdf.


If you’ve been looking at college costs lately, you know it isn’t pretty out there. But it’s encouraging to see just how well NSA stacks up against both its private Christian peers and our regional state-funded universities and colleges.

The bottom line is this: the net price for attending New Saint Andrews College for one year is almost $8,000 less than the average comparable Christian college and only about $2,000 more, on average, than our closest regional state universities and colleges.

But the biggest (and often hidden) difference shows up on the matter of student debt. New Saint Andrews College offers no federal or commercial bank loans, so our students (freshmen to seniors) simply accumulate no debt burden. By contrast, students at comparable Christian colleges end up with an average of almost $16,000 of debt in their freshman year alone! Students at our closest regional public universities aren’t much better off: the average public university full-time freshman can expect to be almost $14,000 in debt at the end of his or her first year. No wonder total student debt now exceeds the nation’s total credit card debt.

So not only does New Saint Andrews have one of the lowest tuition rates and average net prices (after financial aid) among most public and private colleges and universities in the United States, its tuition is less than what the average full-time freshman will accumulate in loan debt at those other institutions. NSA is simply a great value.

The numbers pretty much speak for themselves (and, yes, please do read the fine print!):

Why NSA is the Best Value Averages Chart

The American Center for School Choice and the Commission on Faith-based Schools has released a disturbing report, Religious Schools in America: A Proud History and Perilous Future that notes faith-based schools are disappearing due to increased internal financial pressures and the external drains “free” (tax-funded) government alternatives, such as charter schools, are causing on school enrollments.

Funding continues to be the thorniest issue. For faith-based schools, however, the solution will not be found in direct financial support from state or federal government sources (other people’s tax dollars). That will only develop further dependency of faith-based institutions on government, which inevitably has unwanted and anti-faith strings attached.

What is needed, instead, is a new model of education funding, wherein the states do not privilege secular education with full funding from a state-based coercive tax system (which drains families of faith and others who prefer alternatives to the statist education system), but allows all families full educational choice to send their children to any schools they wish and can afford. The statist education system is threatened by that approach, but undoing the hegemony of state-based education is the only way to stop the continued decline in K-12 education in the U.S.

Allowing people the full freedom to vote with their feet and their pocketbooks (and not be forced to support the current statist system through coercive taxation) will result in a stronger, healthier and higher quality primary and secondary (and post-secondary) education system for all in the long run.

Dr. William Bennett and David Wilezol’s new book, Is College Worth It? (Thomas Nelson, 2013), has a nice blurb about New Saint Andrews College on page 181. Bennett, former Secretary of Education (1985-1988), conservative commentator, radio program host (“Morning in America“), and author of a dozen books, mostly related to education, has this to say,

“For those who are more adventurous, New Saint Andrews College in Moscow, Idaho, is a tiny Reformed evangelical school that has modeled its course offerings on the curriculum that Harvard employed in 1643. This includes incorporating the ancient approach to learning of the trivium (grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic) and the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music). While new student enrollment is limited to fifty students each year, the academics are rigorous, and the small size of the college ensures that the faculty and staff of the college bond in uncommonly deep ways with the students, including spiritual ones. Additionally, NSA’s tuition is only $16,000 [correction: it’s actually cheaper!! $11,200 for this year] per year, about one-third the cost of the average private college.”

Here’s the publisher’s video promo:

And here are an interview with Bennett in the New York Times about the book and several reviews:

New York Times book review by Andrew Delbanco, author of College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be, and director of American Studies at Columbia University

Washington Times book review David DesRosiers, president of Revere Advisors

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics’s latest report, The Condition of Education, “the average total cost of attendance in 2011-12 for first-time, full-time students living on campus and paying in-state tuition was $21,000 at public 4-year institutions, $41,420 at private nonprofit 4-year institutions, and $30,840 at private for-profit 4-year institutions.”

Figure 1. Average total cost of attending degree-granting institutions for first-time, full-time students, by level and control of institution and living arrangement: Academic year 2011-12

 Figure 1. Average total cost of attending degree-granting institutions for first-time, full-time students, by level and control of institution and living arrangement: Academic year 2011-12



Harvard Business School’s Clayton Christensen applies his famous “disruptive innovation” theory to the latest buzz in higher education–the Massive Open Online Course or MOOC–in a recent Wired magazine article: Beyond the Buzz, Where Are MOOCs Really Going?

Kelly Services CEO Carl Camden explains here how the world of work is changing rapidly and the “good jobs” college students (and their professors) imagined awaited them after graduation simply won’t exist. He expects the number of  “free agents,” more than 40 percent of employees today, to rise to over 50 percent within the decade. The company/organization-based “jobs” with benefits and retirement perks will steadily devolve into “work” that may be full time, but won’t entail the same benefits and perks of the old “job” economy. Those days, he suggests, are gone.

A provocative perspective worth considering for its employment implications for colleges focused on “career” training under the old “jobs” world and for those seeking an education in the liberal arts tradition.

Check out the video clip here.

Duke University has published a report evaluating its first MOOC course , “Bioelectricity: A Quantitative Approach.” The detailed report is extremely helpful for seeing how both students and faculty members participated in and evaluated their experiences with this triall MOOC class.  Only 2.5 percent of the whopping 12,000+ students who initially enrolled took the final exam. So for all the buzz and hype and work that went into the course, only a tiny  percentage of students saw it to the end and benefited fully from it.

But this was the university’s first attempt, so where it goes from here is anybody’s guess.

Here’s the full Duke MOOC Report.


Interesting video produced by Dr. Daniel Lin, economics professor at American University, and the Institute for Humane Studies. The two key factors in driving up costs? Higher demand and the unintended consequences of government subsidies.

Thanks to Doug Wilson.

David Warren, president of NAICU, has done excellent work for independent colleges and universities across the U.S. over the years, but his argument in today’s NYT that federal financial aid does not contribute to increased education costs misses on two counts.

First, the effect of throwing government money (your tax dollars) at higher ed is often indirect, but still very real and very problematical. It’s inflationary effect is no urban legend, as he’d like us to believe. To claim that federal aid has no inflationary effect on college tuition at all is a self-serving claim made by those institutions dependent on that money. The test of this would be simple: if you take away their federal aid, what would happen? Institutions would either have to raise tuition to cover the gap or cut staff and programs down to what students actually need and can afford. In other words, the federal money is allowing institutions to increase expenses (programs, staffing, facilities, toys, etc.) they don’t really need and can’t actually afford. That’s ultimately unsustainable and that has artificially and unnecessarily increased the costs of higher education nationally for everyone (students and taxpayers alike). Continue reading