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Riptide: The New Normal In Higher Education

SAN FRANCISCO, July 8, 2011  – In their new book, “Riptide: The New Normal In Higher Education,” authors and experienced university executives, Dan Angel and Terry Connelly, reveal how America lost its world-leading edge in higher education following the 2009-10 recession, and offers solutions to end ‘graduation gridlock’ without digging deeper into student and taxpayer pockets. Angel is a five-time college president, currently president of San Francisco’s Golden Gate University. Connelly is Dean of Business at GGU with a background as a successful leader in financial services industry.

While it has never been more important in life to get a college degree, it has never been harder to do so. Taxpayers have been so impressed with the lifetime earning benefits of a degree that they have radically reduced their direct subsidies to higher education institutions, leaving both the middle class and the disadvantaged to mortgage their futures to pay the resulting hyper-inflated tuition rates. Yet the same taxpayers are unwittingly underwriting expensive, for-profit educational enterprises by taking the default risk on federal student loans, which often go to fund some shady marketing and educational practices that call to mind the “subprime” mortgage industry at its worst.

All but a few elite universities face challenges to their long-term financial models and their viability. All but well-off students confront uncertain pathways and staggering education debt, whether they graduate or not.

In the authors’ view, a “new normal” in America’s colleges and universities offers shocking statistics:

45 out of 100 who start college today will not earn a bachelor’s degree
Those who manage to finish college take, on average, about six years
Only 15 out of 100 college students are traditional—85 struggle to complete degrees in non-traditional settings (working adults)

Current outstanding student loan debt could fund the entire TARP “bailout” or the whole Obama Stimulus Package.
Only about 30% of Americans over 25 have bachelor’s degrees

The authors propose a new “public option”: an affordable, scaleable, no-frills, three-year bachelor’s degree template, employing a flexible hybrid of in-person and online learning, which can best take root in the distinctly American setting of the community college system.  We believe this will break America’s graduation gridlock as well as the chokehold of debt on student families that is strangling their economic futures.

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