A few months ago, it was found that the University of Wisconsin had a "tuition reserve" fund of over $400 million- a pool of unencumbered, unobligated money that was stashed away from tuition income over the years. The university, like all universities, has been "crying poor" throughout these same years, raising tuitions at an astounding rate, saddling its students with ever-increasing debt, and giving its staff explosive increases in pay, and improving its campuses dramatically with expensive brick and mortar projects. I found this more than troubling at the time, and suspected that UW may not be the only college engaging in this sort of squirreling away of funds.
A few weeks ago, I was in Illinois, attending a legislative hearing at which the president of a community college presented. Amongst the myriad of complaints he had about the school's financial well-being, the State of Illinois reduction in funding, etc., he boasted that despite all these ills, the school had managed to put away $80 million in a manner similar to the University of Wisconsin.
This is a community college we're talking about, here. $80 million. Community College.
I am at this point very confident that nearly every school participating in the federal student loan program has been doing something similar, folks. This broader story needs to be investigated, and exposed.
Because the media has become so unwilling to cover higher education meaningfully, and because the so-called "student advocates" are similarly unwilling to acknowledge or expose this, I think that if this story is every to be exposed, it falls on us...this group... to expose it. Like the other important stories we have broken, if we don't do it, it is likely that no one will. I wish this wasn't the case, but it is what it is.
So we have alot of smart people in this group, probably representing all, or nearly all schools in the country. I want to ask each of you to check out your school(s) and see if they have a similar "tuition reserve" fund, and find out how large it is.
I asked you all to do this when the original story broke, with limited results. I am asking you again to do it now, with the confidence that this is, indeed, a widespread phenomenon. I can't give you all personalized guidance on how to find this out...you are on your own there. I can only say that most schools publish public annual reports to their governing boards, and their financials are often mentioned therein. You can also simply call them and ask, and they can probably point you in the right direction. Beyond that, I would simply say to be creative, and take it as a challenge to get this info, don't guess, be very careful to be accurate, and don't give up. These funds exist at nearly every school...it is up to you to find them.
Let me know when you have the answer. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If/when we get enough data to justify it, we will publish a report. This will be big news, and will more than justify your time and effort.
We can do this, folks...and if we don't, then likely no one will!
PS: Regardless of whether you can help with this project, please donate, however nominally, to support our efforts. Your financial support is critical at this time: