Ohio’s Eastern Gateway Community College has grown its on-line programs unexpectedly inside the previous couple of years, with maximum of its kind of 20,000 college students now enrolling on-line, and from out of the kingdom of Ohio.
The bulk of its enrollment growth — greater than quadrupling in the 3 years before the spring of 2018 — has been pushed by way of an internet “free university” application Eastern Gateway created for participants of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a large exchange union of public employees.
Eastern Gateway shriveled with a low-profile on-line software control (OPM) employer named the Student Resources Center to assist run this system, in keeping with a nation audit. The organization takes a 50 percentage reduce of net working earnings from Eastern Gateway’s on-line applications, nation files display.
Some kingdom lawmakers in latest months have all started scrutinizing the university’s on-line growth. They are mulling whether or not to trade the regulation that governs Ohio’s performance investment method, the State Share of Instruction (SSI) fund, by way of proscribing public colleges from receiving country subsidies primarily based on students who do no longer live inside the country. The challenge, they stated, with backing from community university leaders across the country, is that Eastern Gateway will draw public money far from different colleges and use it to teach out-of-state college students.
“What will take place over the years, very rapidly, is your enrollment of kids who never step foot in Ohio will significantly cripple the relaxation of the network colleges’ get right of entry to to SSI dollars,” Matt Dolan, a Republican State Senator who chairs the Senate’s finance committee, stated at some point of a listening to this month.
The Ohio Association of Community Colleges and leaders of most of the country’s -12 months institutions again remaining this “loophole,” Jack Hershey, the affiliation’s president, stated last month in prepared feedback to the kingdom Legislature. Ohio funds public universities to teach out-of-country college students, Hershey said, but best students who pass to the kingdom and may stay and be part of the paintings pressure.
“That isn’t always the type of student Eastern Gateway’s on-line program is attracting,” he stated. “Unless this loophole is closed, students in New York City, Tacoma, San Francisco and Honolulu should take an online magnificence without ever stepping foot in this state, and Ohio taxpayers would be on the hook to assist subsidize their training.”
Indeed, enrollment information for on-line-only college students who attended Eastern Gateway closing 12 months confirmed that 774 have been from California and 1,043 had been from New York.
The university enrolled nearly 14,000 out-of-country college students in on-line packages final spring, Jimmie Bruce, Eastern Gateway’s president, told an Ohio Senate committee earlier this month. The college’s in-state enrollment is 5,500, he stated.
Bruce, who did not respond an interview request, instructed lawmakers that best a small part of the State Share of Instruction components counts closer to non-Ohio college students. Eastern Gateway obtained about $1 million from the components for its out-of-state enrollment, he stated, or roughly 10 percentage of what it obtained from the fund.
Each dollar of country subsidy “has a large multiplier effect,” Bruce stated. The tuition sales Eastern Gateway brings in from out of doors Ohio is a long way greater than the state subsidy. During the last 3 monetary years, out-of-state students have paid more than $23 million in lessons and costs to the university, he stated. This fiscal 12 months by myself that amount could be an envisioned $27 million, stated Bruce, suggesting that the online application maintains to develop rapidly.
Bruce said the country subsidy does not go to non-Ohio college students, but stays with the university and its community, that is one of the most economically depressed regions of the nation.
“It is an instructional subsidy and we have used each greenback to lease Ohio faculty and guide workforce to teach EGCC students,” he said in the written declaration. “I am very proud that our college has created 1,000 college, help group of workers and adjunct college positions related to this initiative.”
Bruce stated if not for Eastern Gateway’s innovation on-line, the state’s normal network college enrollment would be down almost five percent among 2015-2018. Instead, it is up three percent.
He additionally stated predominant latest investments by way of governments in Arizona, Massachusetts and other states on country wide online packages for person college students.
“Competition in nearly any commercial enterprise is relentless, and competition do not admire state borders. That is becoming more and more real in public schooling,” Bruce informed participants of the nation Senate committee. “Ohio stands to lose heaps of students to those innovative entities who, as they grow, could have more and more sources to offer slicing part programming with which our kingdom definitely might not be capable of compete. Just as our country already invests in universities which can be enrolling out-of-kingdom college students, network colleges need to be on the identical gambling field.”
Free College for Union Members
Those arguments can be a hard promote in Ohio. The country’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, proposed excluding college students who stay out of the kingdom from the investment components. The Legislature has been debating the change as part of Ohio’s price range invoice, that’s due this week.
Most states limit public college subsidies for on line programs to in-country students, stated Marshall Hill, president and CEO of National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, which he called “fashionable practice.”
Eastern Gateway can offer its on-line packages in any kingdom. That’s because Ohio participates in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) and Eastern Gateway is a SARA member.
As a result, the college was able to accomplice with AFSCME to provide its Free College Benefit nationwide to union members. The application is of the “last dollar” range, that means the scholarship supply from the union is going towards any lessons and costs that aren’t included by way of federal, country and company resource, such as Pell Grants. Active union individuals, retired members and their households qualify for the advantage. They can enroll in enterprise management, criminal justice, paralegal, trainer schooling and partner of arts degree applications supplied by using Eastern Gateway, in addition to a certificates program in patient domestic care.
AFSCME and the college created this system in 2015, consistent with the union’s website, which said it had provided extra than $20 million in gain scholarships.
In June 2017 the college entered into a agreement with Student Resource Center to help run this system, the nation audit said.
Little records is to be had on line approximately the company. It changed into prepared in November 2016, according to a company filing in Rhode Island. And Student Resource Center stocks a domestic deal with in that state with Higher Education Partners, a company Eastern Gateway began contracting with in 2012 to assist set up a everlasting campus in Youngstown and to increase its presence in Warren.
Higher Education Partners also works with the college on its on-line packages, in all likelihood thru its Student Resource Center associate.
“HEP assists with the advertising and marketing, recruiting and enrollment control factors of their on line implementation approach,” consistent with the employer’s description on its website of the partnership with Eastern Gateway. “We additionally facilitate and provide the assets of educational design of the guides.”
Barnes and Noble’s schooling department elements the net courseware for the AFSCME software, according to the nation audit. Student Resource Center gets a month-to-month reimbursement for its running costs, after the university has recovered its expenses. Net operating earnings is split equally among the college and the OPM, the audit said.
Michael Perik is the CEO of Higher Education Partners. (Calls to the smartphone number listed at the business enterprise’s internet site went to Eastern Gateway’s “scholar useful resource middle.”) Perik formerly become CEO and president of the Princeton Review. Before that he become chairman of Houghton Mifflin’s Assessment Division.
Perik is a veteran of arrangements among companies and nonprofit and public schools. During his time on the Princeton Review, for instance, the university admissions services organisation partnered with National Labor College, the then educational arm of prepared hard work. The partners in 2010 introduced a assignment they said could soon emerge as the country’s largest on line university.
But the arrangement was terminated via November 2011, and National Labor College folded in 2014.
Perik and others purchased the Princeton Review’s community college division, which could emerge as Higher Education Partners. The organisation surfaced in news reports in 2016 approximately the University of Akron’s hobby in shopping for ITT Technical Institute, the big for-earnings chain that collapsed that year. Higher Education Partners reportedly became in talks with Akron approximately developing a network of satellite tv for pc campuses.
Eastern Gateway additionally raised eyebrows by expressing hobby in buying a failing former for-earnings chain. This yr the university sought to collect Argosy University’s online division and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. But Eastern Gateway ran out of time and could not close the deal before the institutions shut down, Bruce in March told the Herald-Star, a newspaper based totally in Steubenville, Ohio.