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Eastern gateway community college placed on probation by higher learning commission
#1
https://www.tribtoday.com/news/local-new...probation/
Remains accredited for at least the next two years, could lose accreditation or have it renewed in November 2023. Guess I better stop dog laying around and finish my degree!
(This is the community college associated with the Union free college program.)
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  • MNomadic
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#2
Ouch, I wonder what happened "really". It seems they were focused on expanding by providing "free" college for those part of an affiliated union, but may not have put more focus on content/quality/teaching, etc... I also wonder how they can sustain a "free" degree if no one is paying for it, I assume it's all "taxpayer" and government funded.

Here's a snippet of the article: The commission changed EGCC’s status from “Accredited” to “Accredited – On Probation” because the Steubenville-based school does not meet the commission’s criteria for accreditation related to teaching and learning for quality, resources, support, evaluation and improvement, according to a letter released Tuesday.
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#3
I remember the college president got ousted sometime in the past couple years. I believe there were concerns about his management. I don't know whether the concerns went to the level of corruption, or just disagreement over approaches.

I do get the sense in some of my online classes that the teachers are inadequately supported and are given more students than they can assist one-on-one. I can't think of any who offer virtual online office hours, which I have had available at other community colleges.

If I compare EGCC to NMJC for example, the quality of the online courses, including curriculum and teaching, is much higher at NMJC. That's not to say that it's terrible or subpar at EGCC--I still learn things, and I feel like my grades are a fair reflection of my learning. But I don't get as much feedback or interaction with professors/teachers, so I probably don't learn quite as much/well as I could.

Oh, and I forgot to mention--the financial model with the free college program is that they get paid through any federal financial aid grants that the union member / family member qualifies for. If the union affiliated student doesn't qualify for federal financial aid grants, then EGCC swallows the cost/doesn't get any tuition dollars for that student. They are gambling on the probability that most students will qualify for some type of federal grant.
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#4
If it's "free" for union-affiliated members, I'm guessing the union pays for a portion at least. Otherwise, why would they have this program??
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#5
(11-16-2021, 09:45 PM)dfrecore Wrote: If it's "free" for union-affiliated members, I'm guessing the union pays for a portion at least.  Otherwise, why would they have this program??

That's what I was thinking
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#6
(11-16-2021, 11:42 PM)MNomadic Wrote:
(11-16-2021, 09:45 PM)dfrecore Wrote: If it's "free" for union-affiliated members, I'm guessing the union pays for a portion at least.  Otherwise, why would they have this program??

That's what I was thinking

All applicants are required to apply for government financial aid, but the union pays whatever isn't covered by the financial aid.  If a union member (or family member) doesn't qualify for any financial aid, the union program pays 100% of the student costs.
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#7
Eastern gateway community college actually offers this program for a bunch of different groups, not just unions. The financial details I described , I read in an article around the time the previous president was ousted because too many people who thought the financial model was not a good one. For the people who did think it was a good idea, the reason for limiting it to certain groups was to limit the inflow of new, possibly non-paying students.

The unions and similar affiliated organizations were, at the time, paying some administrative fees et cetera, but not tuition.
Now, this was a news article and it's possible that their sources were incorrect. It was also from two years ago so it's possible that the financial model has changed.
I'm just having breakfast so haven't had a chance to try to dig up this old article, but will have a look for it later.
However, doing this is not unheard of. If others recall, Trident community college (or was it Trident Junior college?) started doing the same thing in 2020/ 2021. They were offering free tuition but requiring people to apply for financial aid. They would accept any of the Federal grant money that students qualified for, and swallow the rest of the tuition. And they weren't limiting that offer to any specific group, but to everybody. (I haven't read up on how that worked out or if they are still offering that deal on some degrees. Also, this is different from the free tuition offers from South Texas college and MJC, because Trident was offering it before the covid educational grants became available to higher education institutions.)

Another thing to keep in mind is that if the unions were really paying the tuition difference for this, they wouldn't have picked egcc to partner with. They would have picked a community college was much lower tuition rates and / or a faculty that was unionized. It makes no economic sense for them to pay tuition difference when EGCC's per credit cost so high. And it doesn't really make any sense at all for them to be partnering with an institution with an nonunionized faculty, but they are.
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#8
This article https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2021...-probation states that the unions do pitch in to cover the remainder of costs for their students, BUT it also says that the management company that helps EGCC administer their program receives half of the program revenue?!?!?  (Sorry it’s behind a paywall)

I took a number of courses at EGCC with the Union Plus program. I thought they were fine. I learned a fair bit, but I wanted to change careers and learn the material. I could see how you could get by without learning much, but in online courses, with resources like Chegg available, that is hardly unique to EGCC.

The article cites things like the ratio of full time to adjunct faculty and the number of advising spots available. A lot of what is cited in the article makes it seem like EGCC has grown too quickly to be able to check the appropriate boxes for its accreditor.  The article notes a low program completion rate, which is fair, I suppose, but I have always had a problem with that metric as someone who has attended a bunch of schools but only taken a few courses at most of them. Honestly, I kind of feel bad because I hurt their graduation rates, but I never intended to graduate from those schools in the first place. What I didn’t see, at least in the article I cited, was actual EVIDENCE that EGCC is not providing quality education, aside from one person’s anecdote—one person who is still enrolled and is, in fact, pushing his sister to enroll at EGCC!
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#9
Thanks for the link, freeloader!

For folks who can't get past the paywall, here's the excerpt about who pays for what:

"All but 3,491 of the 46,606 students enrolled at the college take classes exclusively online. These students typically qualify for federal Pell Grants, Wurst said, and the unions make up much of the balance of the costs, with Eastern Gateway kicking in “last-dollar” scholarships."

So I think whatever I read before talked about the Eastern gateway contribution and not the Union one. It does appear that the part about a lot of the money coming from Pell grants is correct, and that the unions do not appear to be paying full price for the tuition. It would be really interesting to know the exact breakdown, if only for my own curiosity.

Also interesting to learn about the online learning management company. That explains a lot about my interactions with advisors. I wonder if that means the management company is also the one managing and implementing changes to the online learning platform.
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#10
Just came across this today—in the last 7 days EGCC received a Cease and Desist letter from the US Dept of Education to stop the Free College program over problems with the administration of Pell Grants. In subsequent developments, EGCC has been allowed to have most enrolled students continue taking classes, but has put new admissions on hold.

https://egcc.edu/press-release/
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