As Pell Grant loses access potency, new paper calls for bolder federal college affordability guarantee

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A trio of think tanks and advocacy groups, lamenting the declining purchasing power of the Pell Grant, call for bold federal and state guarantee for low-income college students.

Moody's: Misleading Student Demand Creates Uncertainty

A new report from Moody's Investors Service describes how the phenomenon of high school students applying to significantly more colleges and universities is causing difficulties for institutions. The report finds that:

  • A growing number of colleges are reporting yields -- the percentage of accepted applicants who enroll -- of less than 20 percent.
  • Discount rates (the percentage of tuition sticker price that students and their families don't pay) are rising, limiting net tuition revenue for colleges.


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U. of Chicago Expands Aid for Low-Income Students

The University of Chicago today announced an expansion of efforts to help low-income students. Under the efforts, loans will be replaced with grants in need-based financial aid packages, no application fees will be charged to those applying for financial aid, the aid application process will be simplified, and the university will hold more than 100 free sessions, nationwide, to explain the admissions and financial aid process.

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U. of California Will Review Out-of-State Admissions

The University of California System plans to review its recent push to admit more out-of-state applicants, the Associated Press reported. Janet Napolitano, president of the university system, told the AP, "There are enough people that are concerned about it and have expressed that concern to me — and I've seen it myself by looking at the numbers — that it deserves a serious look, and we are giving it that." Thirty percent of those offered admission this year came from outside California, a sharp increase from historic levels. University officials have noted the need for revenue in an era of tighter state budgets (although the state provided increases this year). California residents pay $13,300 for tuition while those from elsewhere pay more than $36,000.


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Holistic Admissions Linked to Diversity in Health Fields

Holistic admissions policies -- in which colleges consider a candidate as an individual, and base decisions on more than a formula of grades and test scores -- have long been common among undergraduate institutions, but have also gained ground in health professions admissions, according to a report released today. The report found that more than 90 percent of medical schools and nearly half of nursing bachelor's programs are using holistic admissions. Because holistic admissions can consider such factors as a candidate's background and disadvantaged status, these policies have generally been associated with increased diversity, and the new report finds that to be the case in health fields. Among institutions with many attributes of holistic admissions, more than 80 percent report that moving in that direction led to increased diversity in the student.

At the same time, the report did not find evidence that holistic admissions -- as its critics sometimes suggest -- has led to a decline in academic admissions standards. Over the last decade, as many of these institutions expanded holistic reviews, 90 percent of the health professions programs using holistic review reported that the average grade-point average of the incoming class remained unchanged or increased, while 10 percent reported a decrease. And 89 percent reported that average standardized test scores for incoming classes remained unchanged or increased, while 11 percent reported a decrease

The report was done by the Urban Universities for HEALTH – a collaboration between the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities and the Association of American Medical Colleges, with funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Health Resources and Services Administration.

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Census Bureau: Enrollment Dropped in 2013

College enrollments dropped for the second straight year in 2013, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. But those drops are but a fraction of the large gains that came first. Enrollments fell by nearly half a million -- 460,000 -- between 2012 and 2013. That brought the two-year decline to 930,000, which was larger than enrollment drop before the recent recession. But enrollments grew substantially -- by 3.2 million -- as the economic downturn hit. Between 2006 and 2011, enrollment grew by 3.2 million. In the last year analyzed (2012 to 2013), community colleges saw the largest enrollment drops (10 percent), while four-year institutions saw a very small increase.



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Northwestern Grad Application Adds Question on Sexuality

Only a handful of colleges and universities have optional questions on their undergraduate applications in which applicants may share their sexual orientation or gender identity. On Thursday, the Graduate School at Northwestern University (which does not ask the question of undergraduates) announced that it will add a question on whether applicants "consider themselves part of the LGBTQ community." Dwight McBride, dean of the Graduate School, said: “It's important for us but also for others to move in this direction, as well. If we don't ask the question, we are not building a data archive and, therefore, have no way of knowing what the needs of our populations and sub-populations in our communities are -- beyond guessing and anecdote.”

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Bennington introduces new option for applicants

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Bennington will give applicants complete control over how they want to present themselves, and becomes second college this month to become transcript-optional.

Mercyhurst Goes Test-Optional in Admissions

Mercyhurst University, in Pennsylvania, has announced that it is ending the requirement that applicants submit SAT or ACT scores. “Mercyhurst does not believe in reducing students to numbers and has always championed a holistic approach to admissions,” said a statement from the president, Tom Gamble. “Becoming test-optional allows us to focus more on the individual, which is consistent with our mission.”

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Syracuse U. curbs work with program to help urban youth attend college

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Under a chancellor who says he cares more about rankings than did his predecessor, Syracuse U. scales back involvement with well-regarded program for recruiting low-income and minority students -- and those students take note.


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