by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Back in 2013, Daniels, now 69, dashed hopes that he would run for the Republican presidential nomination, signing on at Purdue instead after two terms as Indiana’s popular moderate GOP governor—and setting out to fix the broken business of higher ed. …
… Attacking affordability from another angle, in 2016 he introduced income-share agreements. Students who exhaust federal loans can fund their education with an agreement to sign over a share of their future income, usually between 3% and 5% for up to ten years after they graduate. (Repayments are capped at 2.5 times initial costs.) Critics hate ISAs because they’re unregulated and untested. Milton Friedman is said to have invented the idea but famously noted that they were “economically equivalent … to partial slavery.” Daniels says, “If you want indentured servitude, it’s the student-loan program. With ISAs, the risk shifts entirely to the lender,” since grads who don’t find work pay nothing. ..
… Daniels’ third bold move invited the most criticism from higher-ed purists. Last year he paid $1—yes, a dollar—to acquire the beleaguered for-profit, largely online Kaplan University from former Washington Post owner Graham Holdings Co. Purdue instantly boosted its enrollment by 30,000 Kaplan students—most of whom are female, between the ages of 30 and 60, and the first in their families to go to college. They are now working toward degrees at the newly named Purdue Global University. After Purdue covers operating costs and collects $50 million in tuition, Kaplan is entitled to 12.5% of Purdue Global’s revenue.
So far, so good. Applications are up 67% since Daniels became president. Enrollment is at an all-time high, as are alumni donations, graduation rates and the number of startups launched by Purdue researchers.