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Senate Democrats Push Debt-Free Public College

A group of three Senate Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, this week introduced a resolution promoting debt-free public college. Several Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives put forward an accompanying proposal. The brief Senate resolution describes a plan to help states pay more for higher education, to increase financial aid to cover students' living expenses and to encourage innovation that would make college more affordable.

“A student at a public university today faces tuition prices that are more than 300 percent of what his or her parents faced just 30 years ago, and total outstanding student loan debt now stands at a staggering $1.3 trillion,” Warren said in a written statement. “Our country should be investing in higher education and working with colleges and universities to bring down tuition costs so that students don't have to take on crushing debt to get an education.”

The Washington Post reported that the push, which two liberal groups are supporting, is intended to encourage Hillary Clinton to make the plan part of her campaign proposals. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Demos released a policy paper this week that attempts to flesh out the plan. The groups are arranging events at 10 college campuses this week to promote it.

 

U of Wisconsin at Madison to Cut 400 Jobs

The University of Wisconsin at Madison plans to cut 400 positions and drastically trim its budget, a response to Republican Governor Scott Walker's plan to cut $300 million from the UW system over the next two years. In a blog post on Friday, Madison Chancellor Becky Blank said the university is facing a "structural deficit that may be as much as $96 million as a result of state budget cuts in the upcoming year." Meanwhile Walker, a possible contender for the Republican presidential nomination, said earlier this week that the state might reduce funding less than originally planned, according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Catholic U of America Orders Layoffs and Buyouts

Catholic University of America has eliminated 37 positions through buyouts and layoffs, The Washington Post reported. The university is trying to cut costs in the wake of declining enrollment in its law school and architecture school.

 

Report: Wealthiest Colleges Get More Wealthy

A report being issued today by Moody’s finds that the wealthiest American colleges and universities are getting wealthier at a faster rate than other institutions, The Wall Street Journal reported. This is largely a continuation of a longtime trend. The wealthiest institutions are elite universities that attract large donations and use sophisticated investment strategies that rarely are available to institutions with small endowments. The new Moody's report says the wealthiest 10 universities in fiscal 2014 held almost one-third of cash and investments at four-year colleges and universities, while the top 40 had two-thirds.

Ohio State's Newark Campus Will Eliminate Athletics

Ohio State University at Newark is planning to eliminate varsity athletics programs, The Newark Advocate reported. Officials cited the need to cut costs at a time of declining state support. The university currently has six varsity teams.

 

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Some gain, others fall in Florida's performance-based funding system

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Lawmakers tout improvements tied to Florida's second year of performance-based funding. But is it a coincidence that the system punishes its campus most focused on liberal arts and the one most focused on serving low-income students?

George Washington U. Is Laying Off 46

George Washington University is laying off 46 administrative employees, The Washington Post reported. The move comes as the university moves to cut all administrative units by 5 percent to deal with lost revenue from a decline in graduate enrollment.

 

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$100 Million Pledge for U.C.S.D. Business School

Previous gifts from the Rady Family Foundation helped to create the Rady School of Management at the University of California at San Diego. On Tuesday, the university announced a $100 million pledge from the foundation to, among other things, recruit and retain faculty members.

 

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Protests and Transfer Applications at Sweet Briar

Advocates for keeping Sweet Briar College open held protests Friday and shared photographs of their actions on social media (at right). At the same time, many Sweet Briar students -- however upset that their college's board plans to shut it down -- are applying to transfer elsewhere. More than 200 have applied to Hollins University, also a women's college in Virginia, The Roanoke Times reported.

Grand Canyon Seen as Unlikely to Go Private, Nonprofit

Grand Canyon University's chances of going private have dropped considerably, the Phoenix Business Journal reported based on an interview with the for-profit college's president. Brian Mueller told the Journal that there was less than a 50 percent chance of the publicly traded company going private or nonprofit. Shareholders refused to accept buyouts to convert the publicly traded company. The company offered to buy out shares for 15 percent more than they're worth.

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