Laws & Guidance HIGHER EDUCATION
Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965
Dr. Dean Hubbard, President Northwest Missouri State University On Behalf of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities
Archived Information



TESTIMONY

Presented by

Dean Hubbard
President
Northwest Missouri State University
Maryville, Missouri 64468
Ph.: 660.562.1110
Email: hubbard@mail.nwmissouri.edu

Regarding

Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA)

Presented to

The Office of Postsecondary Education
U.S. Department of Education
Kansas City, Missouri Open Meeting

March 7, 2003

SUGGESTIONS REGARDING
THE REAUTHORIZATION OF THE HIGHER EDUCATION ACT

Dean Hubbard, President
Northwest Missouri State University
March 7, 2003

For the record, my name is Dean Hubbard. I am completing my 19th year as president of Northwest Missouri State University located just 100 miles north of here in Maryville, Missouri.

I would be remiss if I didn't begin by thanking you for allowing me as a practitioner in the field to respond to the seven priorities areas where you are seeking feedback. Although my reactions are my own, I believe my university's profile reveals that Northwest does, indeed, represent one of your largest stakeholder groups, the 425 institutions that make up AASCU, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

Briefly, here is that profile. Northwest Missouri State University is a learning-centered institution founded in 1905 as a normal school to train teachers for 19 counties in northwest Missouri. Since that time the institution has evolved into a comprehensive, coeducational, state-assisted, regional university. Northwest's primary focus is undergraduate education that includes 42-hours of general education plus a major and minor. The University offers 103 undergraduate majors, 36 master's programs, 3 specialist's degrees and a cooperative doctorate in Educational Leadership. Business, Education, Geography and Agriculture graduate the largest number of students each year.

For the Fall 2002 trimester, Northwest enrolled 5,601 (4960 FTE) undergraduate and 913 (333 FTE) graduate students for a total of 6,514. The University's Missouri Academy for Science, Mathematics and Computing enrolled 97 gifted high school juniors and seniors during the 2002-2003 academic year. Online courses attracted 1129 students. "Traditional" students make up the primary base of Northwest's student body. Seventy-eight percent of undergraduates are between ages 18 and 24 (the median age is 19); 86 percent are undergraduates and of these, 38 percent live in on-campus housing; 58 percent are female; and nearly half-46 percent-of incoming freshmen are first-generation college students. Sixty-five percent of our alumni were first generation college graduates. Sixty-six percent of our students borrow money to complete their education and by the time they graduate have accumulated an average debt of $17,655. Our default rate is a low 2.7 percent. Our average student must work 20 hours per week to help meet expenses.

How the HEA can improve access and promote educational opportunity. Without question, need-based aid is the most effective federal tool for promoting access and opportunity. The 46 percent of our students who are the first members of their family to attend college come from that segment of the population that is increasingly being left behind as we transition to an information-based economy. Many reside in shrinking rural areas and come from families who are struggling to survive on a farm. Interesting, these first generation students are more likely than their more affluent peers to enter the teaching profession. (If my data are correct, AASCU institutions educate about half of the nation's K-12 teachers.)

Now let us connect the dots. Large portions of our students come from poor families. Many of them desire to teach our children. They borrow $17,500 to complete their education. The must work 20 hours per week. When they graduate they will enter a job market that pays $23,500 for an entry-level teacher (Maryville School District base salary).

Experts agree that 10 percent of earnings is a reasonable debt limit to ensure that graduates can repay their loans without undue financial hardship. Further, the National Center for Education Statistics reports that students working less than 15 hours per week are more likely to persist to graduation, so our students are working 5 hours more than they should. No wonder so many new teachers drop out after only three years of teaching. They have to in order to service their debt.

Here are my recommendations:

1. Keep the focus on the financially needy.
2. Strengthen and expand the Pell Grant program.
3. Strengthen and expand Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (SEOG) and College Work Study (CWS). These programs also provide need-based assistance.
4. Create incentives for states like Missouri to make state aid need-based. In Missouri very little state aid is need-based. In fact, Missouri has a program called A+ that actually awards two-years of tuition to a student based upon where they live. Not merit, not need, but geography. If the student's high school meets certain standards it is classified as A+ and the student is eligible for a full-tuition grant if she or he meets the most minimal standard. If the federal government would match state dollars that are awarded based on need, maybe we could shift these programs.
5. Increase funding for the TRIO and GEAR UP programs. Our university has had tremendous success helping at-risk students prepare for college through the TRIO programs.
6. Remove up-front fees currently assessed as part of federal student loan programs.
7. Expand income-contingent repayment plans for borrowers.
8. Continue the Direct Loan program and the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

Finally, something I don't recommend. I understand that consideration is being given to increasing the aggregate debt limit from $23,000 to $28,000. In my judgment that will not help, rather, it will exacerbate the problem.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity. Good luck as you work to strengthen and extend our nation's commitment to higher education.

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Last Modified: 02/05/2009