A new poll shows that nearly two-thirds of California's voters say they support Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to raise the sales tax and levies on wealthier taxpayers as part of the state's solution to its budget problems -- a plan on which another round of big cuts to the state's public colleges hangs in the balance, the Los Angeles Timesreported. The survey, by the newspaper and the University of Southern California's Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, found that 64 percent of voters supported the latest iteration of the governor's proposal, which he aims to put on the November ballot, when they are told that the additional revenues will be used to fund public schools, community colleges, and public safety. Brown's budget plan for higher education would keep the public college systems' budgets flat but includes a "trigger" cut of $200 million for the University of California and California State University if the tax plan is not approved.
Chicago State University can't find $3.8 million in equipment, including more than 900 computers that might contain confidential information, a state auditor has found, the Associated Press reported. Other problems identified by the audit include issues with the way scholarships were awarded, poor oversight of contracts and overspending of a federal grant. In recent years, the university has been widely criticized for its management, particularly under its former president. The university issued a statement pledging its continued work to fix problems, and noting that the number of issues identified by the auditor this year was 34, down from last year's 41.
The University of Maine System has suspended all discretionary pay increases amid criticism over raises awarded to 44 employees at the University of Southern Maine during a tight budget year, The Bangor Daily News reported. The system will conduct a review of salary increases at all campuses.
University tuition fees rose by 2.58 percent in 40 developed countries in 2011 (1.76 percent when accounting for inflation), but student aid increased as well, leading to an overall increase in higher education affordability worldwide, according to a study published today by Higher Education Strategy Associates, a research group. While tuition rose significantly in the United States and South Africa, it fell by more than 5 percent in Pakistan, China, Hong Kong, Russia and Turkey; and while student aid declined in the U.S., due to cutbacks in Pell Grants, it increased significantly in Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Singapore and South Africa, the group found.
Some student loan borrowers with the biggest debt loads didn't fully understand what they were getting into when they borrowed the money, a survey of those borrowers has found. The survey, by the advocacy group Young Invincibles and NERA Economic Consulting, asked borrowers who signed a petition about student loan forgiveness what they were told when they took out the loans. About two-thirds of the respondents, who had an average debt load of $76,000, said they didn't understand the difference between private loans and federal loans. Federal loans have more protections and typically lower interest rates than privately offered loans. Two-thirds also said they misunderstood or were surprised by something in the borrowing and repayment process.
Twenty percent said they found the amount of their monthly payments surprising. An additional 20 percent were surprised by repayment terms, and 15 percent were surprised by the amount of interest they would have to pay. Many of those borrowers appear to look back ruefully: "I wish I asked a million more questions than what I did, but at the same time, I don’t think I knew what to ask," one said, according to the report, "High Debt, Low Information."
Borrowers with more than $50,000 in debt are a small fraction -- about 11 percent -- of student debtors over all. The average outstanding student loan debt is $23,300.
But that’s not cause for celebration, said Andrew Carlson, the association’s policy analyst. For one, that number is still considerably lower than the $88.8 billion awarded to colleges in 2008. And even though overall funding remained basically steady last year, enrollment grew. Having more students on campus means fewer government dollars per student and an increased reliance on tuition to pay university bills.
Nationally, state and local funding per full-time student fell $242 last year while net tuition revenue per full-time student increased $225. That exaggerates a long-term trend in which tuition went from supporting 23.2 percent of educational revenues in 1986 to 43.3 percent last year.
Complicating matters, Carlson said, is that next year’s numbers are projected to be worse. Enrollment is again expected to grow, while state funding dropped.
Administrators say Columbia College Chicago's restructuring plan will let it become more nimble. But students and instructors worry applying a business approach to cuts could erode a unique arts and culture orientation.
Is Harvard University less expensive than public universities in California? A Bay Area News Group article explores the question, using a hypothetical family of four with $130,000 in family income. With Harvard's generous financial aid for middle class families, such a family would pay only $17,000 for a student to spend a year at Harvard. At Cal State, with much lower tuition rates, but much less aid, an in-state resident would pay about $24,000. Many students say these figures illustrate the flaws of California's policy of increasing tuition rates without sufficient financial aid.