Argosy University students wait inside the Atlanta Campus to find out information on the future of the university on Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Dunwoody. Cash-strapped Argosy University may close its Atlanta campus for good on Friday.

AJC On Campus: A school closes; concerns about falling enrollment

It’s Spring Break this week for several Georgia colleges and universities and it’s already been quite a semester. Heck, last week was filled with plenty of news.

Here’s our weekly breakdown of some of what happened over the last seven days in this week’s AJC On Campus.

For-profit college abruptly closes

Argosy University students were scrambling to explore their options last week as the for-profit school, which has a campus near the top end of I-285, closed for good Friday evening amid financial problems. Some colleges have offered to take the students. Many students, though, are still waiting for their financial aid. Thirteen Democratic U.S. senators are demanding the federal Department of Education help these students A.S.A.P.  

Crossover Day

Some legislation involving higher education became closer to becoming law last week after passing through one chamber of the Georgia Legislature on Crossover Day. One bill we were closely watching that didn’t make it out of the Georgia Senate’s Higher Education committee was SB 57, which would allow students to borrow money against future earnings under what’s called income sharing agreements. As we recently reported, several senators had questions about the bill and said it needed more work. Apparently, it will need at least one more year of work.

Speaking of income sharing agreements

The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research released a report this week that looked at the positives and potential pitfalls of these agreements, which are currently offered by a small number of schools, but gaining more interest and scrutiny. The institute’s concerns include private investors may push aggressive terms that may take advantage of students. The institute concluded Congress should consider replacing the current student loan system with these agreements, but provide some clear rules to prevent students from being ripped off.

Becker urges schools to help overlooked students

January 10, 2017 Atlanta - Georgia State President Mark Becker speaks at Carter & Associates LLC on Tuesday, January 10, 2017. On Tuesday, Georgia State University and the private development team that acquired the former Atlanta Braves stadium near downtown showed off new renderings showing the design concepts of what they hope to build on the 68-acre site.
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC/hshin@ajc.com

Georgia State University President Mark Becker was honored Monday at the American Council on Education’s annual meeting in Philadelphia with the Hesburgh Award, given each year by the TIAA Institute to recognize leadership excellence in higher education. Becker was honored for the university’s work in, among other things, boosting graduation rates among traditionally underserved communities. For example, Georgia State graduates more African-American students than any school in the nation, according to some research.

Becker, who became Georgia State’s president in 2009, urged the gathering of higher education leaders in his acceptance speech to do more to recruit and graduate students often overlooked by the nation’s top colleges and universities.

“Excellence is not picking highly-polished diamonds from the most elite high schools in America and beyond and placing them in placing them in a beautiful setting,” he said. “Excellence is taking rough-cut stones, allowing them to shine, making sure their precious value is appreciated by and allowed to benefit the world.”

State prevails in immigration court ruling

The federal appeals court in Atlanta last week upheld a Board of Regents policy that prevents immigrant students who’ve received a special deportation reprieve from attending three of the state’s top universities. Those schools are the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and Georgia College & State University. Three students filed a lawsuit in 2016 challenging the state’s policy. The students’ lawyers expressed disappointment with the ruling and said they are reviewing their legal options.

You’ve been warned

Moody’s, the financial analyst company, released a survey last week that’s raising the alarm that some colleges may be in financial trouble in the coming years. Why? Many colleges will see a drop in enrollment, Moody’s predicts. They say fewer students will graduate from high school over the next decade due to declines in population growth. The projections are higher in the South, which has seen robust population growth, particularly among Latinos. University System of Georgia leaders are watching the numbers closely. Chancellor Steve Wrigley has discussed this issue with state lawmakers several times in recent months.

The number of the week: $7.96 billion

That’s the total amount of $10 million-plus donations made to the nation’s colleges and universities in 2018, according to a new study by Marts & Lundy. The 2017 total was $7.7 billion. A $30 million donation went to Atlanta’s Spelman College and a $15 million donation went to Georgia Tech. 

Remembering Lonnie King

Portrait of Lonnie King at Hammonds House Museum in Atlanta on Friday, August 9, 2013. In 1963, for different, yet similar reasons, Lonnie King, Shirley Alexander, Eunice Lawrence Harvey and Charles Black, each made it to the historic March on Washington. Now, 50 years later, each of them recounts their story about why they went to the march, what they experienced and how the events shaped them. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Lonnie C. King Jr. began challenging college campuses in 1960 when he rejected the appeals of college presidents not to get involved in civil rights protests and lead thousands of students and adults in marches on the State Capitol and downtown businesses. In 2017, King joined a student protest at a Georgia Board of Regents meeting to oppose rules prohibiting in-state tuition to some immigrant students without legal status. King, 82, died last week from heart problems. He led an interesting life, and was working on his doctorate from Georgia State University. Here’s a little bit about his life and legacy.

Coming this week

The Technical College System of Georgia holds its monthly board meeting Wednesday morning at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel & Convention Center in Cobb County. The main meeting starts at 10 a.m.

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