All Signs Suggest The College Bubble Has Finally Burst

All Signs Suggest The College Bubble Has Finally Burst

Rob Wile | May 11, 2013, 7:04 PM | 5,492 | 17

This week, the Wall Street Journal’s Ruth Simon reported private colleges are now offering record financial assistance to keep classrooms full. Some schools are now seeing just 20% of the students they accepted actually enrolling, versus the usual rate of 33%. So they have increased the “tuition discount rate”— the price after grants and scholarships  —  to an all-time high of 45%. Meanwhile, the median sticker price increased just 3.9% last fall, the smallest gains in 12 years. And at public schools, the sticker price climbed just 4.8%, also a 12-year low. For the Washington Examiner’s Michael Barone, this makes it official: the college bubble has finally burst: Applicants are negotiating bigger discounts than they used to. Market competition has kicked in. What has happened is that in a recessionary and sluggish economy potential customers have been figuring out that a college diploma may not be a good investment — particularly if it entails six-figure college loan debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. The Millennial Generation that voted so heavily for Barack Obama — 66 to 32 percent in 2008, 60 to 37 percent in 2012 — has had a hard time finding jobs, even with diplomas in hand. Especially if their degrees are in gender studies or similar fields beloved of academics. Moody’s Investors Service Managing Director John Nelson basically agrees, telling Simon,  “we have hit a tipping point on price.” It was a long time coming. Check out this chart from AEI’s Mark Perry showing the rising cost of tuition outpacing basically every other good in American society for nearly two decades: Barone goes a bit further than we would about the bust’s implications (he writes that administrators actively believed they were “above market forces” and could make investment decisions accordingly).

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Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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