There’s a perception that religiously based colleges are better values for students because school leaders are morally upright people who care about them, not about maximizing revenues and prestige.
That’s not necessarily so, argues attorney and former college professor Douglas Oliver in today’s Martin Center article. He writes, “Given those Biblical warnings and their mission, Christian colleges have a responsibility to keep student debts low. Yet, the business model for most Christian colleges is based on high levels of student debt. The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) states that one of the missions of Christian colleges is ‘Christ-centered and rooted in the historic Christian faith.’ If those colleges want their students to live a Christian life and consider lower-paying careers to serve Christ, they need to ‘walk the walk’ by discouraging their students from taking on life-altering levels of debt.”
Oliver isn’t arguing that all Christian colleges are bad values, but that students should scrutinize them just as carefully as they would a purely secular institution. He says that Christian schools ought to seek out business models that do not depend on heavy student borrowing. The most obvious way to do that is to slice away unnecessary costs. And the schools need to be more upfront with prospective students about their graduation prospects and earning potential.
I think he makes a pretty good case, but the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities has promised the Martin Center a rebuttal piece in the near future.