President Nugent talked up higher ed’s financial woes on NPR this morning

You may have heard the Nuge on NPR today.

You may have heard the Nuge on NPR today.

For Kenyon, the discussion on economic inequality didn’t end after CSAD. Just today former President S. Georgia Nugent went on NPR’s “Morning Edition” for a segment called “When Money Trumps Need In College Admissions.” The 7 1/2-minute interview is worth a full listen, but check out highlights after the jump.

On need-sensitive schools (like Kenyon):

Most colleges today are, they are what is called “need sensitive.” It means that many colleges who have some resources — not enormous resources, but they are not impoverished — they do try to accept the class they would like to have, not taking into consideration financial need. But then, as you get toward completing the acceptance of the class and your dollars are running out, you have to begin to take into consideration need.

I wonder where Kenyon lies on the scale of “enormous resources” to “impoverished.”

On offering merit aid to kids who don’t deserve it:

Let’s say that your full tuition at your college is $20,000. So you could take $15,000 of your financial aid and offer it to one quite needy student. Or, you could take your same amount of resources and you could offer $5,000 in financial aid to three affluent students. So, in terms of the college’s revenue, offering the large package to the single student nets $5,000 for the college. Offering the small sweetener to the affluent student nets the college $45,000.

On the future of Kenyon and schools like it:

They’ve got institutions where their resource base is declining. They have to somehow find a way to pay their bills to offer the education they want to offer, and consequently, they need to increase that net revenue.

Note the lack of discussion around containing the costs of a college education, which have jumped 500% since 1985.

4 responses

  1. a $5,000 on a $20,000 tuition would be a 25% discount, not 10%.

    Whenever a discussion of Kenyon’s relative financial aid generosity comes up, I feel compelled to remind people that our school works with a $180m endowment. In comparison, Bucknell U, who we are ranked as “equal” to on the US News and World Rankings, has three times as much. Oberlin has $727m.

    Now, with a smaller student body, it does make sense for our endowment to less substantial. But our professor salary is also pretty damn good — 95K on average — and operating costs for places like peirce and the kac are nothing to scoff at. Obviously, Kenyon should be as generous with financial aid as it can afford to be. But when it comes to our ability to do so compared to other institutions, we’re asking the administration to bring a knife to a gunfight.

  2. I cut that bit about the tuition discount because it’s confusing. From anecdotal experience, I don’t know how likely it is for a school like Kenyon to give out a 25% merit aid package (though I am no admissions counselor). 10% is more feasible.

    It’s definitely worth noting that Kenyon’s endowment is less than its peer institutions. And growing it is a long-term job.

  3. The sentence “offering merit aid to kids that don’t deserve it” is flawed. That’s a judgment neither made in the NPR piece nor by Nugent, but by the author of this post. I know this is a blog, but this kind of article should have unbiased and apolitical reporting. Currently, it’s presented as a factual piece, not an argument.

    The lack of ability to pay Kenyon tuition doesn’t mean you deserve money from the college more than a better student who has the funds. If the school gave out merit aid to the best students, regardless of their need, maybe we could draw talented students away from the Ivies/elite Liberal Arts Colleges.

    Yes, there are well-qualified students who should have their full financial needs met. But Kenyon’s top priority should be to attract the brightest students, no matter sex, race or religion. Just don’t pretend that giving needy students full rides is the only way to go about it.

  4. You know it’s just the same with everything in life.
    You would think experience teaches us anything, but that’s so rare.
    Hate all you want but the world is changing, and we have no control whatsoever over it.
    For instance, imagine Obama had any balls to put Putin to his place, but it seems like it’s not happening, welcome third world war.
    A very deep post, thanks!

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