More Americans who identify themselves as struggling economically are worried about the affordability of higher education than about any other financial stress, according to a report, "Struggling in America," released Thursday by Public Agenda. The findings, based on interviews conducted with 1,004 adults Nov. 18-21, 2010, revealed that 77 percent of parents who were struggling economically said they were worried about paying for their children's education, making it their most common personal financial worry. In contrast, 61 percent of the same group of respondents said they personally worried that they would not be able to afford to retire, while 45 percent feared being able to pay their mortgage or other debt. Coming in last was the fear of losing one's job (32 percent).
Higher Education Quick Takes
Harold Raveché, who resigned last year as president of Stevens Institute of Technology, has agreed to pay off more than $721,000 in low-interest loans from the institute that were part of a dispute over compensation and governance that led to a lawsuit against Stevens by New Jersey's attorney general, The Star-Ledger reported. The suit, since settled, questioned the oversight by the Stevens board of the then-president. While he lived in a university-owned home, the loans were given to allow him to buy two vacation homes.
The 26 osteopathic medical schools in the United States have received more applications for admission during this academic year -- with three months left for applications -- than during all of last year. As a result, this will be the fifth straight year in which applications have set records, according to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine. At this point, the colleges are receiving about 20 applications for every available spot.
Some families and financial aid administrators are reporting technological troubles with the online version of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and Education Department officials have told the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators that they are working on the problem, NASFAA reports. The scope and degree of the problems are unclear; a few financial aid officers have reported significant problems, but the aid directors' group says it has had few reports so far.
Southwestern University's board has voted to keep the institution's name, ending a period of study and debate over whether the name was sufficiently reflective of the university's identity. "The research showed that Southwestern University is not well known among prospective students − those who live within Texas and particularly those who live outside Texas − and that most people do not associate the name 'Southwestern University' with a private liberal arts institution," said a statement from the board, which also called for a "visibility campaign" to promote Southwestern. In a December interview with The Austin American-Statesman, Jake Schrum, the president of the university, explained the need to consider a name change this way: "Looking at our name and thinking about a national liberal arts college of real quality — is that a disconnect? The name Southwestern University sounds like a regional public university. It's that whole thing of having to explain so much that the quality of what we're doing here and the type of institution we are — not that we're wanting to become, but that we are — is lost in the shuffle." But the idea of a name change didn't catch on with students -- and angered some alumni.
Students at the University of California at Irvine are protesting an apparent criminal investigation by a local district attorney into an incident last year in which some students heckled repeatedly during a campus talk by Israel's ambassador to the United States, the Los Angeles Times reported. While some students continue to defend the heckling, others at Irvine who said that the heckling was wrong argue that the university's punishment of the group found to have organized the disruption was sufficient.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday unveiled a 2012 budget proposal that would cut spending on New York's public colleges by 10 percent as part of an overall plan to eliminate a $10 billion deficit without raising taxes. Cuomo's plan, which would also impose a 10 percent cut on state aid to private colleges, also calls for giving the State University of New York System at least some of the increased autonomy and flexibility it has sought in recent years. Leaders at SUNY and the City University of New York were measured in their responses to the governor's plan, praising the new governor for confronting the state's financial problems head-on but expressing concern about the cuts and "how they will impact our ability to provide a quality experience and education for our students," as SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher phrased it.
Members of two national associations of student affairs professionals in higher education -- ACPA: College Student Educators International and NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education -- are voting this spring on whether the two groups will merge. Leaders of the two groups negotiated for a long time about the merger plan, and have argued generally that there are enough commonalities of interest and potential economies of scale that a merger makes sense. But a group with NASPA has now formed to argue against the merger. On a website called "NASPA, Yes! Consolidation, No!," the group argues that a merger would "complicate governance," eliminate choices for student affairs professionals, and create "a monstrous annual conference." A spokeswoman for NASPA said that the organization was not responding to the members who created the website. Statements from both organizations' leaders about the planned merger may be found here.