UNC, Public College Students Post High Family Income

On average, students at the “flagship” universities of state college systems have a higher family income than their counterparts at private colleges and universities, according to a recent Washington Post report. The University of North Carolina is no exception.
The families of undergraduates attending public colleges earned a median annual income of $51,231 compared to $46,863 at private colleges for the 1995-96 school year, according to the report. Median family income is approximately $75,000 at UNC-Chapel Hill, $75,000 at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, $80,000 at the University of Texas, and $94,000 for last year’s graduating class at the University of Virginia. More than 47 percent of UNC-Chapel Hill freshman have family incomes of $75,000 or more, according to a 1998 survey of UNC freshmen conducted by the UNC Office of General Administration.

The nationwide income medians come from a new analysis of federal figures by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. The Education Department data are four years old, but experts believe that the pattern continues today. The results agree with separate studies that four states — Florida, Minnesota, Oregon, and California — conducted in the early 1990s.

“Unlike private colleges, state universities essentially subsidize student costs regardless of income by offering low tuition for in-state students,” the report contended.

Analyst say the current situation raises questions about state policies that defray education costs for residents regardless of income.

“A lot of government spending — state appropriations — is going to subsidize the education of people from pretty high-income families. But states are not doing enough with student aid to make those institutions affordable to low-income kids,” said Michael McPherson, president of private Macalester College in Minnesota and co-author of the book “The Student Aid Game.”

A few states are changing their scholarship policies to decrease the financial burden on low-income students, according the report. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and a Missouri panel recently proposed that their states provide more scholarships based on financial need.

Students forgo grad school for Internet business

A growing percentage of students are opting out of graduate school in order to stake their claim on the booming Internet business, according to a recent New York Times report. In the past year, applications to top business schools, including Stanford, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dartmouth, Michigan and the University of California at Berkeley, have dropped by as much as 11 percent. And the number of Americans taking the standardized admissions test for business schools has fallen 17 percent in the last four years. Many schools have responded by adding more Internet courses and creating majors devoted to the subject.

In Other News: Within 20 years, on-line classes with as many as 1,000 students will replace traditional lecture courses on campus, according to a forecast of the distance-learning industry to be released this weekend and previewed in this week’s edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education (www.chronicle.com). Forecast author William A. Draves says he does not believe that on-line education will drive traditional education out of business, but that on-line classes will replace most lecture-based courses.