Skip to comments.Dramatic Growth of Christian University Has Come With Federal Strings Attached
Posted on 04/05/2011 12:29:58 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
Liberty University, the Christian evangelical college founded by the late television pastor and pro-family spokesman Jerry Falwell as an extension of his Lynchburg, Virginia congregation in 1971, has taken its place as the nations eighth largest, four-year university and the largest private four-year, non-profit university in the United States, the school announced in a press release on March 28.
The designation came from the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Educations National Center for Education Statistics. The university exploded from its ranking as the 25th largest liberal arts school to number eight in just one year, largely on the dramatic growth of its online academic program.
According to VirginiaBusiness.com, Liberty currently has 64,610 students, making it the largest four-year college in Virginia. Liberty University Online accounted for 54,278 of those students. George Mason University, the second-largest college in Virginia, has 39,977 students.
Liberty announced that it recently sold $120 million in bonds to fund a substantial increase in its physical facilities, and has also expanded its online curriculum to include bilingual programs for a growing population of Hispanic students.
The dramatic increase in our size signifies that students are interested in an education that is not only academically excellent, but also based in values, integrity, and character, said Jerry Falwell Jr., son of the founder and the universitys current president.
Falwell recalled that his fathers vision was to found a world-class Christian university similar in quality to Birgham Young and Notre Dame universities, with NCAA Division 1 athletics, academic excellence, and all the programs for students that are found at any major university. Falwell said it was thrilling and humbling to see Liberty University fulfilling the original vision in so many areas, including the goals for enrollment, so early in the schools history.
The school, which had a residential enrollment of 12,805 students at the end of February 2011, has set a goal of increasing that number to 20,000 in the next decade.
However, some observers have noted that Libertys dramatic growth has not come without compromise to its founders conservative principles of limited government. In addition to its other distinctions, Liberty has also taken its place as the eighth largest recipient of federal aid to a student body in the nation.
In the span of a year, Liberty has experienced about a 56 percent spike in federal student aid, from $284 million in 2008-2009 to $445 million in 2009-2010, reported the Lynchburg News and Advance. That $445 million included $385.9 million in student loans. The rest came in the form of grants and other student aid like work-study.
But Robert Ritz, Libertys executive director of financial aid, insisted that the universitys reliance on federal dollars does not violate the conservative principles the school supposedly espouses. These funds are authorized by Congress and Congress is elected by voters, Ritz told the News and Advance. Ive always been in the position where I believe Im a steward of those federal funds. Im a steward of tax-payer money.
Ritz noted that each year there are a small number of Liberty students that dont want to use federal funds because of their conservative values. We honor that, he said.
By contrast to Liberty, another conservative, Christian liberal arts school, Hillsdale College in Michigan, has consistently refused to receive any federal subsidies, and since 1984 has not allowed its students to use federal loans or grants, preferring instead to help students pay for their education through contributions made by private benefactors.
Similarly, Grove City College, a Christian liberal arts school in Pennsylvania, explains on its website that it accepts no federal aid of any kind, including federal student grants and loans, in order to avoid federal regulation and preserve the integrity of its mission
When you accept federal funds....the feds tell you what to do.
If the loans are between the students and the govt then there should not be any strings attached. The only strings that should come are where the University receives funds directly. I also think student loans should be forced to play by the same rules as other loans. They should not be protected from default.
So the students take out federal student loans to pay their tuition, and the university is the bad guy?
As I understand it, there is one (and only one) university (private or public) that doesn’t allow their students to use federal student loans. Unless you or your child went to Hillsdale, then Liberty is no different than the university you or your child attended.
IMHO, what the writer is really upset about is that federal tax dollars are going to a Christian college founded by Jerry Falwell (gasp).
This column strikes me as an Alinsky piece. Make them live by their own rules. Which means define their rules as an impossibly high standard, then force them to live by them. “Your a conservative, you are against govt. spending, so you can’t accept govt. student loans.”
So while conservative colleges are starving for funds, because “their students can’t use govt. student loans” the liberal college are getting fat and growing using taxpayer (conservative taxpayer) money.
Don’t take their bait. Don’t fall into their trap.
Patrick Henry College is also a Christian University that does not take Federal funds.
It was founded by the Homeschooling Legal Defense Association.
My daughter has been taking online college courses their the last two years.
RE: If the loans are between the students and the govt then there should not be any strings attached
That was what most people believed (in theory) until the 1970’s.
Consider the case of the Christian College — GROVE CITY COLLEGE.
Grove City College v. Bell, 465 U.S. 555 (1984), was a case in which the United States Supreme Court held that Title IX, which only applies to colleges and universities that receive federal funds, could be applied to a private school that refused direct federal funding, but where a large number of students had received federally funded scholarships.
The Court also held that the federal government could require a statutorily mandated “assurance of compliance” with Title IX, even though no evidence had been presented to suggest that Grove City College had discriminated in any way. However, the Court also held that the regulation would only apply to the institution’s financial aid department, not to the school as a whole.
While Hillsdale College was not a party to this case, the result of this case directly influenced that insitituton to decline all federal aid starting with the fall 1984 semester - a practice that continues today.
Grove City followed suit in 1988, establishing a loan program with PNC Bank instead.
The lesson we can gather from the above case is this -— GOVERNMENTS TEND TO EXTEND THEIR REACH EVEN WHEN YOU THINK YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH IT IS INDIRECT.
It is my opinion that no christian college should allow its students to become enslaved through federal loans, or any loans for college. Borrower is slave to the lender.
You are right that is why we need to place strict and clear limits on this kind of thing especially if we are ever going to go to a voucher based system for public education.
“If the loans are between the students and the govt then there should not be any strings attached. The only strings that should come are where the University receives funds directly.”
Except that it’s not just loans. Liberty University students are also eligible to receive federal grants, and they likely are also eligible for federal work-study and other federal programs.
“So the students take out federal student loans to pay their tuition, and the university is the bad guy?”
I think the point is that as soon as a school (any school) agrees to offer federal student aid, they are now on the hook for a wide variety of federal regulations that have nothing to do with finances that are in many ways anti-conservative. I work at a school that recently was approved to provide federal student aid, and the additional regulations and reporting and stuff that has nothing to do with financial aid is astounding.
And there are more schools out there besides Hillsdale that refuse federal dollars. There aren’t many, but there are a handful.
***When you accept federal funds....the feds tell you what to do.***
I’m surprised gays haven’t already run a test case for faculty hiring.
Work-Study should also go to the student, not to the school.
There is no requirement that the college actually offer the student a job.
In my opinion, if the student cannot find a job, he or she should be able to claim the federal portion of the work-study grant as a Pell grant. The college should be able to keep whatever money they were intending to pay the student, if in fact they ever intended to pay the student at all.
As is, the school can keep the money for themselves if the student cannot find a job (this may mean that they end up giving the same grant to two different students but realistically have to pay off on only one — however oversight is *very* poor).