Penn State news by
Penn State's student blog



Eric Barron Delivers Comprehensive Address on Affordability to Board Of Trustees

In President Eric Barron’s first official address to the Board of Trustees today at Penn State Schuylkill, he used a graph-heavy presentation to explain his outlook on fixing student affordability and debt issues in a straightforward, professor-like manner that took about 40 minutes.

The way he conducted the presentation itself was more noteworthy than its content. He eschewed shelling out the typical public relations news in exchange for an honest examination of why so many students graduate with debt or do not graduate on time — he even underscored the fact that Penn State received a record 124,000 applications by presenting it as “the good news” before listing the “not-so-good news” regarding affordability. Certainly, it was a departure from the brief, positively-slanted reports of Rodney Erickson and other presidents, so much so that Trustee Mark Dambly said some discussion of Penn State’s accomplishments would have been nice (Dambly, by the way, is chair of the Finance, Business, and Capital Planning Committee).

Barron cited growing student debt numbers in the latter of the news variations — 66 percent of students are currently graduating with debt, and student default rates have grown every year since the recession’s beginning. His biggest concern seemed making sure students graduate on time.

“The biggest tuition increase [for a student] is for them to not graduate in 4 years,” he said during a corresponding slide that read, “debt without a degree is an even bigger tragedy [than just plain ol’ debt].” He noted that student borrowing rates increase dramatically if they take a fifth or sixth year of college. A dilemma also exists wherein increased student work hours results in less class time, therefore making students graduate late anyway.

His proposed focus to fix things (which is explained in depth from slides 18-21) is four-pronged:

  • Assess extent to which attrition and time to degree is associated with financial need,
  • Seek resources to provide a “Penn State Promise,” wherein if a student works 20 hours a week, Penn State will cover remaining unmet need,
  • Examine options for utilizing relatively inexpensive summer sessions to decrease costs (of which I was a big fan, as a former LEAPer),
  • and examine programs that address issues to impact time to degree, like LionPATH.

It felt like Barron was a professor giving a lecture to a very interested classroom, seriously. On the whole, the board was appreciative of his straightforward approach to issues, with most questioners following his address providing kudos. Student affordability is one of the six major points Barron has outlined that need to be addressed here.

Who knows how effective these measures will be — college affordability is clearly a complex issue to tackle. For now, at least, we should appreciate how Barron went about discussing them.

Here’s his whole presentation:

Your ad blocker is on.

Please choose an option below.

Sign up for our e-mail newsletter:
Support quality journalism:
Purchase a Subscription!

About the Author

Tim Gilbert

Former Managing Editor of this site, now just makes lots of #content for it from the Phyrst’s Table 69. Senior from Philadelphia. First-generation Penn Stater. I might go to law school after this, but I might not, too. “For the Glory” is in my email signature because I’m a douche. [email protected] is my email if you want to tell me why I suck. Alternatively, you can call me out on Twitter @OlGilb.

News & Notes From James Franklin’s Opening Summer Press Conference

Franklin spoke to the media for a half hour on Thursday about upcoming summer workouts.

‘We Have Competition At Every Single Position’: Penn State Quarterback Question Still Unanswered

With the clock ticking down until the start of Penn State football’s season, James Franklin has yet to name his starting quarterback.

Give Us Someone To Root Against: An Open Letter To The Big Ten

“It’s a lack of honor, a misplacement of regard, and a shortcoming of courtesy.”

Follow on Another Platform
Other posts by Tim

Penn State’s New Academic Mark Is Just Awful

My brain is not able to understand how a team of people supposedly proficient in this industry gathered, looked at this new mark, and said, “Yes, this will do!”

Penn State Hoops To Host DePaul In Inaugural Gavitt Tipoff

James Franklin To Throw First Pitch At Yankee Stadium On April 28