Environmental Analysis: Macroeconomic Impact on the Education Industry

The education field is one of many field/industries that are affected by macroeconomics. It may not be affected as much by macroeconomic factors as other industries such as the food and restaurant industry or a company that makes clothing or shoes such as Nike, it still is affected. Inflation affects the purchasing power of students in terms of textbooks and cost of living. If prices are higher for textbooks, then students will not have as much money for other things (ex: luxury items such as movies and dinner), which affects the GDP. That’s not to mention interest rates, the higher the interest rates, the more it costs students to borrow money for school (Encyclopedia of Earth, 2007). How does this affect the postsecondary education industry? If there are factors that would keep students from wanting to attend college, such as high-priced textbooks and high interest rates on loans, that will affect the employment of professors, teaching assistants, work-study students and anyone else who desired employment in a college/university environment. Brooklyn College is a school that is a part of the City University of New York and is relatively cheap in terms of price for a good education. It is $2000 a semester for full-time students and $170 a semester for part-time students. (Brooklyn College, 2008) A potential problem for the school is the student activity fee which is over $100 and the accelerated study fee which can be up to $690 for students that take over 24.5 credits. (Brooklyn College, 2008) Another potential problem is that the according to the U.S Department of Labor, the price of college textbooks have gone up in the last five years. As stated earlier if there are financial reasons for a student not to attend a college it will directly affect the employment of anyone with the background to work in a school environment. If there are less students, that could take away jobs from professors, places like the library café can cut to preserve budget which will take away jobs from students and other computer experts. It’s a domino affect that can impact both students and potential employees. This paper will look at the opportunities that exist for Brooklyn College to provide economic stability in order to entice students to attend the college, which would indeed have a positive domino affect on the profitability of the school.

Based on the statistics provided by the United States Department of Labor, colleges have not suffered the same effect of the increasing unemployment rate as other industries have. That makes sense considering that professors are taken into account when the statistics are created and professors are highly educated. With that said there are ways to increase employment at Brooklyn College. The best way is to provide a job placement service in the school for graduates with first priority going to students that have previously completed either work-study programs or student assistant programs while attending the school. That will entice students to not only apply for work-study (which is better for them in the long-term than asking for more loan money), it will also entice them to improve their office skills, which will make them more desirable to not only employers at Brooklyn College, but employers everywhere and that will also help the economy.

When it comes to how inflation has increased the price of textbooks, Brooklyn College should implement several other options to purchase textbooks. For example, encourage professors to use the same textbooks for as many semesters as they are relevant. Another way (besides lowering the prices) to make textbooks affordable for students is to encourage the selling of books between students at lower prices. Not only is it prudent to encourage said selling, but it is also a sound idea to make a place on the Brooklyn College website (ex: a link on the front page) for students to put their books on sale and for students who need textbooks to log on and make contact in order to buy the book. Those ideas keep a balance between students going to the bookstore to buy the used books and having the books be affordable through other means. The theory applied here is akin to absolute advantage (McConnell and Brue, 2008); Brooklyn College does not need the biggest bookstore in the world, let alone CUNY in order to provide a top-notch affordable education. As far as the student activity fee and the accelerated study fee goes, the move to make would be to run polls and use a feedback space in order to find what student activities are most expendable and then cut said activities in order to lessen the activity fees. Once again the theory of absolute advantage is at work, less student activities mean less resources used to provide the same education as a school that is similar.

When it comes to financial aid, because of the interest rates of loans, Brooklyn College has an opportunity to encourage students to try to fund as much of their education as possible through other means. The other means are scholarships and grants. Finding innovative ways to provide scholarships for students is a great way to entice students who are on the fence about attending college the chance they are looking for.

Contests are probably the best way to provide scholarships or grants for students that would not otherwise get one. The interest rates on loans are enough to discourage students on its own. The interest rates for the Perkins Loan provided by Brooklyn College is five percent (Brooklyn College, 2008) and they are even higher for federal loan programs, the William Ford Loan program carries an 8.25 interest rate (Brooklyn College, 2008). That alone is reason enough for students to avoid Brooklyn College, despite the fact that the school is critically acclaimed (school guides, 2008) and should have no problem drawing students.

Brooklyn College is already an affordable school, but because of factors such as the interest rates of student loans and the inflation causing the price of textbooks to rise there may be a dearth in the amount of college students that attend any school, let alone Brooklyn College. Brooklyn College as a critically acclaimed and affordable (in terms of tuition alone) school has a chance to entice students to attend its school specifically as opposed to more expensive schools like New York University. More students attending Brooklyn College can boost the school’s employment options (including the students themselves pre and post graduation) which will decrease the employment rates. While the environment may not allow for newer books to be sold at a lower rate, the school can encourage cheaper ways to buy books. In the same vein, while interest rates may not be able to come down for the moment because of the economy, Brooklyn College can still find ways to provide financial aid to students that will allow them to attend the school such as grants and scholarships.