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Higher Ed

Podcast: College Uncovered

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    Students at one New York university have a surprise awaiting them: an $8,000-a-year “academic excellence fee.” We have to ask: Isn’t academic excellence included in tuition? In fact, tuition is only part of the cost of college. Like car dealerships, schools are nickel-and-diming consumers with huge fees — fees for student activities, fees for athletics, fees for building maintenance, fees for libraries, even fees for graduation, the bills for which arrive just as students and their families thought they were finally done paying for college.
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    Student loans aren’t the only kind of university debt. Colleges and universities have borrowed billions, mostly to build new dorms, dining halls and facilities, spaces they may – or may not – need as student enrollment declines nationally. Today, nearly 10 cents of every dollar in university budgets helps pay interest on institutional debt.
  • To boost enrollment and meet workforce needs, more states are offering free community college programs. But do these programs effectively help students graduate from college? And by offering college for free, does that diminish its value? We look at the research, as well as a new free college program in Massachusetts and an old one in Tennessee, where community college has been free for years.“College Uncovered” is made possible by Lumina Foundation.
  • Okay, so you’re going to college. But will the college you pick still have its lights on before you graduate? It’s a question more and more families face as colleges experience financial and enrollment challenges that force them to close or merge. We’ll look at what colleges are doing to stay alive, whether should states disclose institutions’ financial health to consumers, and what happens to students - and their credits - when their school suddenly shuts down.
  • Universities dole out more than half of the revenue they collect from tuition in the form of discounts and financial aid in their efforts to attract students. The US average is 56 percent. If a private company discounted its products by more than half, it would probably go out of business. So why do colleges use this self-destructive business model that leaves many prospective students thinking college costs more than it does? We explore.

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