Setting the Record Straight: UMUC Responds to National Review Opinion Piece

On June 28, 2018, National Review published an opinion piece on its website by American Enterprise Institute resident fellow Jason Delisle that uses data comparing University of Maryland University College (UMUC), a state university, with select for-profit institutions.

We agree that all institutions should be judged on outcomes and held to the same standards.

By that measure, Delisle and National Review actually make the case for UMUC — pay less, owe less, and earn more.

Of the 15 schools on the first list alone, one (Westwood College) ceased operations in 2016; the parent company of one (South University) was accused of what the Justice Department called “egregious abuse,” agreed to pay a $95.5 million fine and forgive $100 million in student debt, and the school was sold to a not-for-profit; and one (International Academy of Design and Technology) is accredited by an agency that is no longer recognized by the Department of Education.

Of the 12 that remain, the Department of Education’s College Scorecard shows that:

● UMUC costs the least — 30% less than the lowest average reported cost.
● UMUC graduates earn the most — 20% more after graduation than the average reported salary.
● And UMUC graduates owe less on average — 33% less than the average reported debt upon graduation.

Here are key metrics from the Department of Education (DoE) regarding student loans:

● Delisle’s argument equates quality with loan repayment, using five-year data that focuses on repayment of principal and total debt repaid. However, there are five payment plan options offered by the U.S. DoE – and four of them greatly reduce the amount of principal a student will pay in the first five years: these are extended, graduated, income driven and income-sensitive repayment plans.

● The U.S. Department of Education publishes the Cohort Default Rate (CDR), which the agency uses to determine an institution’s overall performance with respect to federal student loan repayment. That cohort is tracked for three years and defaults in that three-year period affect the school’s published rate.

● UMUC’s current CDR is 7 percent, lower than every other school in Delisle’s list.

According to the federal government’s College Scorecard:

● Typical total debt after graduation for a UMUC student is $19,000, compared to an average of $28,496 of total debt after graduation for the other school’s on Delisle’s undergraduate list.

● Average annual cost to attend UMUC is $12,299 (lowest on the list), compared to an average of between $17,681 and $21,645 for the other schools in the undergraduate list.

● Salary after attending UMUC is $49,900 (highest on the list), compared to an average of $39,836 for the other schools on the undergraduate list.

In summary, while student debt is an issue of national concern, UMUC remains justifiably proud of its record of delivering an education that is affordable, accessible, and valued in the workplace.