Study assesses how megafoundations have changed role of higher ed philanthropy

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Study documents how Gates and Lumina -- by collaborating with government, funding intermediaries, and investing heavily in messaging -- have reshaped the philanthropic role in higher education, for better and worse.

Connecticut legislature mulls elimination of remedial courses

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Connecticut lawmakers want to eliminate all non-credit remedial courses. While a compromise is likely to emerge, the state's approach is seen as visionary by some, foolish by others.

CUNY faculty sue to block new core curriculum

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Faculty groups at CUNY sue to fight general education requirements, saying graduation rate obsession will lead to weaker academic rigor.

For-profit group's new leader calls for self-regulation and collaboration

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Steve Gunderson has plenty of friends, including the Senate's leading critic of for-profit colleges. But the new head of the sector's trade group isn't afraid to pick a fight -- even with one of his members.

Texas wants to boost four-year graduation rate by 20 points

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U. of Texas committee unveils plan to graduate 70 percent of next year's freshmen in four years -- up from 50 percent today.

Education Department raises hackles over clock hour definition

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The Education Department's take on the definition of "clock hour" programs is too broad and could unfairly cut into federal aid, say a Texas state agency and for-profits.

Obama higher education plan signals policy shift

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President Obama lays out details for his plan to hold colleges accountable for rising prices, with ramifications beyond the election this fall.

Improving Graduation Rates Is Job One at City Colleges of Chicago

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City Colleges of Chicago have a 7 percent graduation rate. If that number doesn't go up, the system's chancellor, presidents and trustees could lose their jobs.

Battle Lines Drawn on Regulatory Rewrite

Student advocates and representatives of higher education institutions laid out their positions Monday on the next round of regulatory rule making at the Department of Education. And those public comments -- the first step in the process to overhaul two major Obama-era regulations -- offered few surprises on the positions of the various parties.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos last month announced that she would pursue a rewrite of the gainful-employment and borrower-defense regulations. She also said she would suspend enforcement of the latter rule, citing ongoing legal challenges.

Since that announcement, DeVos has also said she will delay certain disclosure provisions of the gainful-employment rule, which holds career training programs responsible for poor debt-to-earnings ratios for graduates.

Student advocates called for the department to enforce the gainful-employment rule, which remains on the books.

"It is the department’s job to make sure taxpayers do not continue to subsidize failing programs," said Jennifer Wang, D.C. office director of the Institute for College Access and Success.

Advocates also called for the department to enforce a ban on mandatory arbitration agreements that is part of the borrower-defense rule.

Representatives of the for-profit sector called for the gainful-employment rule to be applied to all programs receiving Title IV aid regardless of sector, for reporting requirements to be streamlined and for ratings to reflect long-term earnings of graduates as well as geographic variation in income.

The United Negro College Fund and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities also called for a separate panel to separately consider financial responsibility provisions of the borrower-defense rule.

DeVos will appoint separate negotiated rule-making committees to take up each rule later this year, likely starting in November or December. The second public comment hearing ahead of the negotiated rule-making process is Wednesday in Dallas.

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Attorneys General Sue DeVos

Led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, 18 states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Thursday seeking to have borrower defense to repayment regulations enforced by the department.

The borrower-defense rule, which was finalized by the Obama administration last year, provides a process for students to have their federal loans discharged if they are defrauded by their school. DeVos announced last month that she would suspend enforcement of the regulations and seek to overhaul them through a negotiated rule-making process.

The attorneys general argued in the lawsuit that she violated federal law in delaying the rule. DeVos justified the delay by citing pending litigation challenging the rule filed by a California association of for-profit colleges. But the attorneys general argued that the case was a "mere pretext for repealing the rule and replacing it with a new rule that will remove or dilute student rights and protections."

In a conference call with reporters, Healey said the Trump administration and DeVos have sided with the for-profit sector over students since "day one" and that borrower defense would protect students and taxpayers.

Liz Hill, a spokeswoman for DeVos, said in a statement that the lawsuit brought by the Democratic attorneys general was "ideologically driven." And she said the challenge from the California for-profits raised "serious and credible charges" regarding the rule.

"The borrower-defense regulations suffer from substantive and procedural flaws that need to be considered before imposing new burdens on regulated parties that will come at a cost to taxpayers of $14.9 billion in the next 10 years," she said. "That is why the secretary decided it was time to take a step back and hit pause on these regulations until this case has been decided in court and to make sure these rules achieve their purpose: helping harmed students."

In a separate lawsuit Thursday, Public Citizen and the Project on Predatory Student Lending sued the department over the borrower-defense delay on behalf of two students who attended the for-profit New England Art Institute in Massachusetts.

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