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The High Cost Of Free College


By Professor Doom


Usually, the mainstream media has never met a tax or program it didn’t like. It’s never a question of whether we should have some new social program, instead the media presents the question that the reader should decide between “more” or “much more” government involvement.

So I was a little surprised when a CBS article, of all things, dared to sound even a little critical of Obama’s stupid community college plan:

The high cost of free community college

I’m just amazed that the article even comes close to questioning whether “free community college” is good for everyone.

The proposal has generated accolades from those who support greater college access and skepticism from those who predict much of the money will be wasted.

Look at that! Both sides mentioned. Of course, it’s not much of a “prediction” to say much of the money will be wasted. After all, already most of community college is a waste, with graduation rates below 10%, most coursework being worthless remedial programs, and roughly 80% of the students suckered into this system being victimized by it.

So yeah, both sides mentioned, although the “much of the money wasted” side is presented as fortune-tellers, rather than people that are looking at the hard evidence of waste. Still, this is pretty good for CBS…a low bar.

Curiously, CBS follows up with the hard evidence showing what a waste community college is for most people:

... For a two-year associate degree, that would mean fewer than one in five students graduate within three years. A report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center concluded that just 20 percent of community college students graduate to four-year schools…”

Look, two different measurements, in addition to my own, say that for 80% of students, community college is a waste. No program is perfectly efficient, but high schools with 80% drop out rates aren’t held up as models to be used everywhere, why is community college’s immense failure rate such a great standard that we want everyone to be subjected to it?

How is it a “prediction” to say much of the money will be wasted when the facts spell out that much of the money will be wasted? When the thermometer says it’s 95 degrees, it’s not a prediction to say “it’ll be a hot day”, right?

Anyway, the article fears that there just isn’t enough capacity for all the students that would take advantage of the free offer:

Making community college free could actually hurt access to these institutions that have traditionally served as a higher-ed gateway for lower income and nontraditional students. A spike in community-college popularity could make enrolling in classes for current and new students more difficult. California provides a recent example of how access can be threatened when classes are free or close to it.

This is a foolish concern. Higher education is turning into a boiler room, and this is most apparent at the community college level. The issue isn’t capacity, the issue is quality. Yes, California had a problem with too many students, but, as I showed at a Los Angeles community college, much of the coursework is at the 6th grade level or lower. Stop such waste of time courses, and the capacity problem vanishes.

If there was any integrity in the system, college would be college, and we’d only accept applicants that actually are coming to learn, rather than people that are just there for the free checks that Obama wants to increase.

Yes, increase. See, community college is already basically free. The Pell Grant scam is particularly good at community colleges, due to their low tuition. Students already can come to community college, and get a Pell Grant, which not only pays for tuition but gives a “refund” check to the student—I don’t call Obama’s plan stupid for nothing!

Let’s go over that, because it’s clear not enough people understand what’s really going on in community colleges, especially as relates to the Pell Grant scam.

Like most government handouts, the Pell Grant is in trouble, with around an 18 billion shortfall expected this year. Like most government handouts, there’s a hideous amount of fraud here.

Roughly 25% of students in the community college system are some sort of “Pell Runner”, which is to say, not a student at all, but merely someone who shows up, signs up for classes, and vanishes once the Pell Grant “refund” arrives. With my own eyes I’ve seen classrooms empty the day after “check day”. Most people just don’t understand that Pell Grants have merely turned into a form of welfare for our young…and a massive subsidy for our community college system, which gets a great deal of Pell Grant money.

Pell Runners, also referred to as “Stipend Chasers,” don’t bother with student loans or planning their finances in any way for college. Instead, they enroll in the cheapest community colleges they can find, often in simple online classes, and apply for Pell Grants to fund their academic endeavor. Then, once they receive their government-issued money, they stop attending class, flunk out, and vanish. They live on that free money until funds begin to run low, at which point they repeat the process.

Repeat the process? Yes, because there’s no record keeping. An administrator only wants growth, so he doesn’t want there to be records: as far as a college administrator is concerned, a Pell Runner helps with growth, and so doesn’t care about all the fraud…an administrator won’t keep records to cut down on fraud, because that would cut into growth. The gentle reader really needs to understand that most community colleges are systematically frauds, in addition to being openly criminal.

We really do have “Nomad Tribes of Students” that just wander from one community college to the next, re-applying for, and getting Pell Grant loot, semester after semester.

Lee M. Carrillo, director of financial aid at Central New Mexico Community College, had a personal encounter with a Pell Runner ring. Carrillo was approached by colleagues and asked to investigate a group of students who were calling in on a daily basis demanding their Pell Grant money.
He found that the group of students calling in was actually enrolled at multiple nearby colleges. Their history at these colleges showed that all of them were enrolling in online classes, and then failing out.  After further investigation, he found the group was working out of Mississippi—over a thousand miles away.
“They had a ringleader calling for all those students, saying she was that person and needed to get her funds,” Carrillo told the Community College Times.

--if they weren’t bugging admin too much by calling on a daily basis, they would never have been caught!

Above is just one example of the organized student crime complementing the organized college administration crime, but I assure that, across the country, school after school after school is populated with students like this, mostly individually, but as the above shows, sometimes it’s a group effort.

How did record keeping get to be so bad that a student could enroll and apply for Federal Grant money at MULTIPLE colleges? Why is supply so excessive that MULTIPLE colleges are so near each other? Neither is a fluke, and we’ll just see more of this once community college becomes “free”.

So, while the CBS article doesn’t really understand WHY the “new” free community college plan is a stupid idea, I still give them credit for at least mentioning that, yeah, it’s a bad idea.


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