Before the U.S. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations, Ralph Regula, Chairman
April 24, 2001
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee:
I am pleased to present the President's fiscal year 2002 budget request for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
The National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), one of seven colleges of the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), provides a continuum of learning and living options for approximately 1,100 students who are deaf and hard of hearing on a campus of more than 13,000 students. NTID was created by Congress to provide postsecondary technical education for the Nation's youth who are deaf to prepare them for successful employment in the economic mainstream of America. I believe NTID has fulfilled this mandate with distinction and extremely positive results for the past 33 years. We support the President's fiscal year 2002 request of $52.57 million for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. The specifics of the fiscal year 2002 request are as follows:
The fiscal year 2002 request includes $48 million for operations and $4.57 million in construction funds to cover the cost of the third and final phase of the dormitory renovation project, which will cost a total of $14.971 million. We are pleased that the Department has requested funds for the final phase of this project. RIT is in the process of upgrading all of its dormitories, including dormitories serving NTID students. Most of the dormitories on the campus are 20 to 30 years old and are in need of extensive modernizing and refurbishing.
Funds received by NTID for tuition, room and board, and fees are expected to generate $450,000 in additional income in fiscal year 2002 above the total expected in fiscal year 2001 due to the decision to increase tuition, room, board, and fees by 5 percent for the next academic year. We estimate that the Federal appropriation for NTID will constitute approximately 81 percent of funding for operations in fiscal year 2002.
The number of new students entering NTID during school year 2000-2001 was 444, compared to 434 in 1999-2000. The total included 386 deaf and hard-of-hearing freshmen and transfers, 15 first-year graduate students - 10 of whom are deaf or hard-of-hearing - in the Master of Science in Secondary Education (MSSE) program, and 43 first-year students in the Educational Interpreting program. Total enrollment, including interpreter training and graduate students, remained stable at 1,219. For the fall of school year 2001-02 (fiscal year 2002), NTID is on schedule to admit approximately 425-450 new students, which would maintain enrollment at approximately 1,200 to 1,250. This estimated total would include 90-100 interpreter training program students, and 30-35 MSSE students.
Over the past 33 years, nearly 95 percent of NTID's 4,500 graduates were placed in technical and professional jobs commensurate with the level of their academic training. Of this alumni total, the vast majority are employed in business and industry (69 percent). In addition, in fiscal year 2000, NTID completed a research study performed in collaboration with the Social Security Administration. This study included data on over 7,500 graduates and withdrawals spanning a 16-year period and shows that graduation from NTID has significant economic benefits for an individual over a lifetime of work. NTID students who graduate with baccalaureate degrees will earn 68 percent more over their working lives than students who attend, but withdraw without a degree. Sub-baccalaureate graduates will earn 29 percent more than those who withdraw. With respect to labor force participation, withdrawals experience 3 to 5 times the rate of unemployment as baccalaureate graduates and nearly twice that of sub-bachelor graduates.
While 60 percent of students attending NTID receive benefits through the Supplemental Security Income program (SSI), by age 30, less than 7 percent of graduates continue to draw SSI benefits, compared with approximately 20 percent of withdrawals who continue to receive SSI benefits. This data further indicates the economic benefits that derive from an education at NTID. In addition, graduates access Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) (fundamentally an unemployment benefit) at far lesser rates than withdrawals. Among the subjects in this study, withdrawals were found to be twice as likely to be receiving benefits from either SSI or SSDI than cohorts who graduated with a degree. It is abundantly clear that a large percentage of students who do not complete their education will continue to depend heavily on the Federal Government for basic income support throughout their lives.
From a return on investment perspective, male graduates pay back approximately 150 percent of the cost of their educations in the form of taxes over their lifetimes, and female graduates return more than 50 percent of the investment in their educations. When combined with the savings derived from reduced dependency on Federal income support programs (SSI and SSDI) and the productivity gains realized by society, it can be seen that the Federal investment in NTID returns significant dividends.
NTID has maintained a balanced array of services that are shown to be responsive to the needs of students who come from various educational settings - public high schools, as well as center/residential schools and day programs. NTID's success is due to its student-centered philosophy and outcome-oriented programs and services that lead students to successful careers.
A student who has the abilities and desire can enroll through NTID in baccalaureate, masters, or doctoral degree programs with hearing peers in the other colleges of RIT. Last year, approximately 40 percent of our deaf students were cross-registered or fully matriculated in the other colleges of RIT. Regardless of field or location of study, NTID maintains centralized responsibility for supporting all deaf students. Last year, deaf students benefited from approximately 86,000 hours of interpreting, 44,000 hours of note taking, and 14,000 hours of tutoring, as well as counseling, advising, and other professional services. For students interested in programs below the baccalaureate degree level, a number of degree options are available through the college of NTID. Students in the associate of applied science programs at NTID complete their liberal arts requirements in the RIT College of Liberal Arts and their physical education requirements in RIT's Physical Education Department. All together, nearly 700 of NTID's 1,100-plus deaf students have ongoing interactions with hearing peers through formal coursework and activities in the other colleges of RIT.
In addition to the various learning environments that provide for students' intellectual development, there are a variety of living arrangements that enable deaf students to live on dormitory floors comprised predominately of their deaf peers, on floors comprised predominately of their hearing peers, or on mixed floors where there are equal numbers of deaf and hearing peers. These living arrangements provide students the opportunity to develop their interpersonal skills in an environment that promotes their personal development. Thus, the learning and living environments at RIT and NTID foster well-rounded graduates who are well prepared to live and work in the mainstream of society.
Studies conducted at NTID benefit enrolled students as well as deaf adults throughout the country. The research program and agenda are guided and organized according to five general research foci: economic and occupational assimilation; academic and technical skills; communication skills; effective instruction; and institutional planning, evaluation, and effectiveness. We recently submitted a detailed annual report on NTID research to the Department of Education, and a copy is being provided to the Committee for its file.
NTID's educational outreach efforts will continue in accordance with the Institute's mission and strategic plan. These efforts are designed to address the needs of alumni and other deaf adults, professionals working with deaf students, employers, vocational rehabilitation personnel, deaf secondary school students, and parents of deaf children. For example, 188 students participated in Explore Your Future last year, a career-sampling program for high school juniors who are deaf. In addition, a Summer Institute for deaf alumni and other deaf adults addressed topics such as computer skills, small business opportunities, and networking for career mobility and enhancement. Workshops and training sessions were offered to 524 employer representatives and school personnel last year. Through these and a variety of other outreach efforts, we work to create and expand opportunities for people who are deaf.
The Education of the Deaf Act authorizes the use of appropriated funds as a one-for-one match with private funds raised by the Institute, and the Department's budget request provides NTID with the flexibility to use current-year program funds for its endowment grant program. The endowment matching fund was established as an incentive to help NTID raise private funds and to reduce NTID's dependence on Federal appropriations. In fiscal year 2000, NTID matched $590,000 of privately raised funds with a like amount of Federal funds. NTID recently completed its first major capital campaign, which attracted $11.5 million to support its endowment, the acquisition of technology, and instructional, outreach and research projects. We have placed a priority on developing ongoing revenue streams to supplement NTID's operating budget. The current market value of NTID's total endowment stood at approximately $22.5 million as of December 31, 2000.
NTID commenced construction on a major dormitory renovation project in fiscal year 2001, as part of RIT's plans to renovate all of the dormitories on campus. The request includes $4.57 million for the third and final phase of a three-phase project costing a total of $14.971 million. The scope of the architectural improvements includes residential room improvements, public area improvements, and exterior renovation work. The renovations would satisfy code and life safety requirements, remedy problems that developed due to years of deferred maintenance, and improve facilities so the NTID dormitories will be on a par with other dormitories on campus. The $14.971 million total cost figure includes $2.651 million received in fiscal year 2000 for phase one and $5.376 million received in fiscal year 2001 for phase two, as well as $650,000 received in 1999 for costs associated with developing detailed architectural, engineering, and interior design plans and the detailed construction layout for the project. The total figure also includes $700,000 for data cabling and $218,000 for a roof replacement that have already been completed and paid for with funds from prior year operations.
The 2002 request will allow NTID to continue its mission of preparing deaf people to enter the workplace and society and compete with their hearing peers. In the Institute's brief history, our alumni have demonstrated that they can achieve full independence and become contributing members of society, and that they can acquire a satisfying quality of life as a result of the postsecondary education they received at NTID. Collaborative research between NTID and the Social Security Administration shows that, in comparison to students who do not complete a degree, NTID graduates over their lifetimes are employed at a much higher rate, earn substantially more, pay significantly more in taxes, and participate at a much lower rate in Federal transfer programs such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Income (SSDI).
Mr. Chairman, my colleague and I will be pleased to respond to your questions.