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Alliant U. sparks a turf war Carlos R. Davalos | Sat, Aug 17 2013 12:00 PM

A partnership between the Sweetwater Union High School District and Alliant International University has caused a board member at a neighboring college to question whether the four-year university is worthwhile.

“I obviously have a lot of concerns with the deal that was made,” said Southwestern College Governing Board President Humberto Peraza.

Some of Peraza’s qualms about the agreement include the method in which the district is sending its students to Alliant.

Peraza said the district pushes a certain number of students to the college to reach its 50-student quota. Peraza added that students shouldn’t be pushed anywhere and should be making their own choices.

Peraza said the school district is trying to persuade its students to go to Allaint without giving them much choice.

Peraza said that a public school district should not be pushing good taxpayer dollars on a private university.

The Southwestern College Governing Board president also cited the high tuition as a concern.

“If Alliant wants to survive here on its own, and to be an option for the South Bay community, great,” Peraza said. “I don’t think it’s a great option at $620 a unit, but that’s an option certain people may want.”

Dr. Geoffrey Cox, president of Alliant International University, said the reason for the high cost of tuition is that Alliant is a private institution, which normally costs more to attend than a public university. Nonetheless, Cox said, Alliant is still affordable.

 “Higher education is a good investment for students anywhere, whether in the South Bay or anywhere else,” Cox said. “We structured a package that at least among a private higher education, we think we are as cost effective as any institution I’m aware of.”

Cox said Alliant offers different scholarship packages and financial aid options that could help foot tuition.

Cox admitted there would be some students who will probably need to take out student loans to fund their education at Alliant, but Cox said taking out student loans is a common feature in the United States.

He said as long as student debt doesn’t become “overwhelming” then higher education is a good investment in a student’s future.

According to its Website, the price to attend  Alliant this fall semester as an undergraduate is $620 that equals out to nearly $15,000 a year for a full-time student.

All junior colleges in the California Community Colleges system, which includes  Southwestern College, saw an increase in tuition costs last summer from $36 to $46 a unit or just over $1,000 a year.

Peraza said Southwestern College has the same course offerings as Alliant.

Southwestern College’s 2013-2014 catalog lists majors in child development, psychology, criminal justice and business administration; those majors are also offered at Alliant.

The tuition cost at National University, a private not for profit college like Alliant, with a location on 660 Bay Blvd. in Chula Vista, has a tuition cost of $384 per quarter unit or $1,728 for a 4.5 quarter unit course.

t the University of San Diego, a private Roman Catholic University, tuition for the 2013-2014 school year is $40,900 or $20,450 per semester for full-time students.

Peraza said the price to pay for an Alliant education is too much for the quality of education a student will receive.

“If students want a Stanford style debt without the Stanford style education, then I think that is a great option for some people,” he said.

Cox concedes that his college is no Stanford. He also said the success rate at his college is not up to par, but he said he has been working on improving the graduation rates.

“We haven’t had a good success rate in recent years, we’ve been working hard to improve the graduation rates for undergraduates,” he said. “And it is currently in the 70 percent range and we think our students are going on to successful careers and opportunities after they leave us.”

Before Alliant can start billing students, it first needs to figure out where it will set-up shop. Alliant was originally supposed to be housed at the National City Adult School, but the National City Planning Commission stepped in and blocked that move.

The Sweetwater District failed to obtain a conditional use permit from the planning commission to allow Alliant University to share space at the adult school, the planning commission said.

National City Mayor Ron Morrison said his city is not involved with deciding if Alliant is worth attending, he said, they are solely involved in the permitting process.

“The only part that the city is involved in is basically a land use decision on the conditional use permit, the education aspects and everything else those are not part of our process.”

An emergency meeting for the planning commission about this issue is scheduled for Aug.19

Cox said if Alliant can’t be housed at the adult education building, then they will look for other alternatives.

“If the National City Council elects not to permit us to operate there, we’ll look at other options,” he said. “ We chose that (location) because we thought it was the best and most convenient option but it’s not the only option.”

Brian Clapper, a board member for the National School District that oversees elementary schools  in National City, said he proudly took his daughter, a Sweetwater district alum,  to enroll at Southwestern College and not at Alliant.
Clapper said enrolling his daughter in Southwestern College just made economic sense.

Peraza said the Alliant University and Sweetwater District partnership is just another headache caused by district superintendant Dr. Ed Brand.

“He (Brand) was brought in to help fix a situation, and he’s obviously failed in that respect, the situation there has gotten progressively worse,” Peraza said.

“He should go away, he should go on a very long vacation.”

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dbdriver Says:

Wed, Aug 21 2013 02:51 PM

C'mon, Rick. Don't let facts get in the way of good entertainment. Cox said they haven't had good success in recent years. (Gee, recent years is the only thing I could find on collegeresults.org.)

Cox said they're currently in the 70 percent range. (Let's see, 19.0%, 23.8%, 28.6%...total 71.4% added together. Hey he's right! In the 70 percent range.)

Ooh, and they THINK their students are going on to successful careers and opportunities after they leave us. You mean, they're not checking up on them? For success stories? At those graduation rates, how many are leaving through graduation? And how many just don't make it through at all?

Rick Nathanson Says:

Tue, Aug 20 2013 11:26 AM

Who is Cox kidding...graduation rates off of collegeresults.org:

Graduation Rate
Four-year graduation rate 19.0%
Five-year graduation rate
Six-year graduation rate

sosocal Says:

Sun, Aug 18 2013 04:50 PM

Regarding your headline, the problem is much larger than a turf war. The problem is a Superintendent and a majority board continuing to act in direct opposition to the students' benefit, the public's benefit and the benefit of the educational system they pledged to uphold and support. Brand and his scurrying toadies have been massively bold, obnoxious and wrong in following their own lead. We know they aren't serving the public--that is all too obvious. They serve themselves and their greed.

John Brickley Says:

Sun, Aug 18 2013 09:40 AM

"We haven't had a good success rate in recent years, we've been working hard to improve the graduation rates for undergraduates," he said.

That's all I needed to read. Send these people packing. Ed Brand and his supporting SUHSD board members should be ashamed of themselves.

anniej Says:

Sun, Aug 18 2013 09:01 AM

While my comments and many others question the deal making of Ed Brand. WE, as taxpayers, must focus on those board members who took an oath office to protect the education and work to oversee the spending of our tax dollars. 2014 will offer the voters of the South Bay the opportunity to replace Jim Cartmill, John McCann and Arlie Ricasa.

A review of our financial books documenting the MASSIVE draining of Mello Roos funds is but one indicator of the poor job CARTMILL, MCCANN and RICASA have done.

Will there be any funds left when they leave next year? Could the community file suit against them as individuals? Are they brethren to the folks in Bell, California?

Erupting Says:

Sun, Aug 18 2013 08:10 AM

Interesting you mentioned Arlie. She voted for Alliant this time around,but in 2006 she and Sandoval both recused themselves. Fast Eddy will have his way. If the National City Council does not approve Alliant Brand will move it to a place where Alliant doesn't have to pay rent. Probably the most crowded high school in the district.

sosocal Says:

Sat, Aug 17 2013 05:28 PM

There are many unanswered questions about this--which is to be expected if there is a scheme with Ed Brand involved.

We can thank our lucky stars that the National City Planning Commission stepped up and looked into this. We can be very grateful that Mr. Peraza is willing to publicly state what many are privately stating: Ed Brand needs to depart. He has done nothing but create havoc, spend money needlessly and promote schemes to employ his various cronies. Listing all of Ed Brand's failings, personal, public, corporate, you name it--would take far more space than is available here. Suffice it to say that he has destroyed enough. He needs to be stopped.

anniej Says:

Sat, Aug 17 2013 12:45 PM

As Mr. Peraza recommended Ed Brand needs to simply GO AWAY! He has done nothing, zero, nilch since he was brought back by McCann and instead of McCann and the board demanding that Brand focus his attention on the students they have allowed him to run roughshod. It has been one questionable back room deal after another - it started off with Funds for Education - failure, Grand Canyon University, a Christian college - failure, setting up his own CIF division - failure, IPADS that our new curriculum is NOT in sync with - failure, eliminating boundaries - failure, and now Alliant. What is it to him if our students are saddled with debt that could have been avoided by attending Southwestern - it is no interest to him. Bertha Lopez is the only board member that has stood fast in demanding Brand answer for his failed deals - but to no avail as the other board members are allowing him to do whatever he pleases.

ARE WE BEING PUNISHED by the rest of the board for seeking out the help of the judicial system? While it is true McCann has not been indicted by Brands own word McCann instructed Brand to seek out monies from contractors for him. Have Cartmill, Ricasa and McCann abandoned the very community that voted them in to protect the students and taxpayers? How will Quinones choose to vote? With Brand or with community?

Why is Ricasa, an employee of Southwestern not speaking up?

Southwestern serves the communities students, Alliant is looking to reap from them.

Thank You Mr. Peraza for having the courage to demand what is best for the South Bay students looking to be educated.

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