Programs

Sanction or abolish 58 college programs? Texas political group says they should be |

An analysis of the state shows the difficulties of some institutions in giving students a good return on early investment in specific academic fields.

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For students looking for the best colleges and universities to embark on the path to success, an institution’s brand may not matter as much as the programs it contains.

This prompted the US Department of Education to college scorecard as well as the efforts of organizations with links to higher education to try to ensure that students get what they pay for – ultimately a career with a decent return on investment while incurring the least amount of debt. They say performance in these academic areas is key to increasing job and promotion opportunities, as well as income.

In recent years, the Texas Public Policy Foundation published a report on the status of these offers, titled “Holding Texas Colleges Accountable for Student Loan Debt and Revenue Results.” This year, armed with new data from the dashboard, it highlights 58 programs within public universities in Texas that it says are underperforming and not worth students pursuing. The TPPF says these institutions should be held accountable if they don’t take steps to improve them, including potential losses of federal financial aid and withdrawals of state aid for overdue programs.

“Many students and parents rely on public universities in Texas to open doors to promising career opportunities at an affordable cost,” said Andrew Gillen, senior policy analyst at TPPF. “The vast majority of public university programs in Texas fulfill this role. But some programs leave their students with excessive student loan debt. Graduates of these programs do not earn enough to repay their student loans.

The struggle of students to repay their loans – to the tune of $1.75 trillion – is one of the biggest crises facing higher education. President Joe Biden’s call for a $10,000 pardon for 43 million borrowers, plus an additional $10,000 for Pell recipients, may provide a short-term solution but doesn’t fully address potential problems down the road. . Yes, loan debts could be capped and Pell Grants could get a substantial boost if his proposals are accepted. But students who take out loans to pay majors that won’t bring them adequate income could still be financially overburdened and have the same debt problems as previous borrowers. TPPF said it was the colleges’ duty to ensure that this did not happen.

“Some programs prepare students for life after college better than others,” Gillen said. “Responsible colleges will seek opportunities to expand these successful programs and phase out programs that do not prepare students for success.”


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A neat metric that TPPF has developed is something it calls “debt as a percentage of income,” which is actually a snapshot of students’ financial outlook three years after graduating from specific programs at universities. A trend emerged: associate degree programs at public universities in Texas tended to be less risky for students than all others, although some data was unavailable due to confidentiality. Overall, undergraduate programs also performed well. However, graduate, master’s, and professional-level programs have increased these levels of risk. The latter saw an almost 1:1 ratio between those who performed very well and those who performed “poorly”.

A few of the academic areas that have struggled to pass grade after third year at more institutions than others might be surprising. They include clinical, counseling and applied psychology; guidance and personnel services to students; Music; Law and dentistry. In fact, students who earn their first professional law degree at Texas A&M, the University of Houston, and Texas Southern University all earn less on average in their third year than the debt they take on. In Southern Texas, this debt can reach $130,000 while median salaries are $67,000. A doctorate in architecture from the University of Texas could offer a good salary of around $64,000, but could also come with a monthly payment of $816. Of course, over a lifetime, some of these gains could be more substantial depending on career trajectory. But in the beginning, these avenues can severely restrict individuals’ financial flexibility.

Texas Southern had the worst performing programs (10) in the TPPF analysis, followed by the University of Texas at Austin (8) and Prairie View A&M University (6). Divided into four groups of recommendations, the TPPF says many should either be sanctioned, with the potential for “funding and enrollment restrictions,” or be given a sunset tag, i.e. that they should be completely eliminated. They understand:

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts and StudioTexas A&M Corpus Christi
  • Associate’s Degree in Business Operations, Support and Helpdesk ServicesHouston Community College
  • First professional degree in optometryUniversity of Houston
  • Master in Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies, University of North Texas
  • First professional degree in dentistryUniversity of Texas Health Sciences Center for San Antonio
  • First professional license in lawTexas A&M University-College Station
  • First professional degree in dentistryTexas A&M University-College Station
  • Doctorate in MusicUniversity of Texas-Austin
  • Masters in MusicUniversity of Texas-Austin
  • Master in Radio, TV and Digital CommunicationUniversity of Texas-Austin
  • PhD in ArchitectureUniversity of Texas Austin
  • Master in Teacher Training and Professional DevelopmentUniversity of Southern Texas
  • First professional license in lawUniversity of Southern Texas

In the report, the Foundation also highlighted states that are doing better than others at keeping student risk low by having few low-performing programs. Best of the best is Rhode Island, with 73 programs that the TPPF says could be rewarded with additional funding for their efforts on debt-to-income ratios after three years and for having no programs that fall into the sunset category. . It was followed by New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Minnesota. Texas ranked 14e globally. The bottom five include California, Kentucky, Montana, Louisiana and Alaska, although they have had a lot of data restricted due to confidentiality. Yet they also had the fewest programs listed in the awards category.