Why We’re Different
Building Socially Responsible Universities
A generation ago, a high school diploma was sufficient to ensure financial security. Today, it’s not enough, as most well-paying jobs require higher education. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that through 2014, over half of all new US jobs will require at least some college education, and over 22 of the 30 fastest-growing career fields require some college education. Yet, only about 53% of Americans obtain a college degree or credential after high school, a figure that drops to about 25% for low-income students and 20% for African-American and Hispanic students. 20 years ago, the U.S. was the first in the world in the percentage of adults with a postsecondary credential. Now, it’s 10th in the world and headed in the wrong direction.
UniversityNow is a direct response to the growing social concerns about skyrocketing college tuition and increased barriers that put traditional U.S. schools beyond the reach of far too many students. With the demand for higher education so high – and with government guaranteed student loans so readily available, colleges and universities haven’t been subject to the same pressures facing every other sector of the economy to innovate and lower costs.
We believe that American colleges and universities have a social obligation to solve the cost crisis. Here’s why: funding for all American colleges and universities is provided primarily by federal and state government – directly in the form of funding to schools, and indirectly through student aid and loan guarantees. This means that they are supported by public taxpayers. Given that schools receive nearly $190 billion a year from the federal government in the form of higher education aid to students, it is time for all U.S. colleges and universities to ensure that they are exploring every tool at their disposal to lower the cost of delivering education and creating more access. Shifting funding cuts and cost increases onto students in the form of tuition increases is no longer a viable solution in a time of crisis.
The good news is that proven strategies exist for lowering the cost of education without compromising quality, and the UniversityNow team – amongst other innovators – are working hard at solving the cost problem in higher education. We’re moving beyond labels – such as “for-profit” vs. “non-profit” and “public” vs. “private” – to build schools that are socially responsible and focused on doing what’s right for students. Simply stated, we’ve built a model that responds to the crisis and puts the student first.