Advocates of free two-year college agree debt-free movement is a help

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As the hot higher education policy idea shifts from free community college to debt-free four-year degrees, advocates of two-year free initiatives aren't worried.

Saint Rose Braces for Layoffs, Program Cuts

The College of Saint Rose is planning faculty layoffs and program cuts.

The Albany Times Union reports the 4,500-student Roman Catholic college has a $9.3 million structural deficit and had a $4 million operating deficit last year, and 70 percent of its property is mortgaged. Now lenders are demanding the college improve its financial situation. "Like many institutions across the country, enrollment at the College of Saint Rose has declined in the past due to market forces and demographic shifts nationally," a college spokeswoman, Lisa Haley Thomson, told the Times Union. "Therefore, the college is beginning the necessary process of prioritizing its academic offerings."

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Syracuse explores new medical school in push to become a more prestigious research university

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Would a medical school be the answer to Syracuse University's new push to become a bigger and better research university?

Moody's: New Orleans Colleges Still Struggle

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, colleges and universities in and around New Orleans continue to suffer from weak enrollment, according to a Moody's analysis released this week.

The damage incurred during Katrina caused institutions to shutter for the entire fall 2005 semester. Today those colleges and universities continue to struggle with enrollment -- which is down 15 percent from pre-Katrina levels -- due to demographic declines and persistently weak state funding for public universities, Moody's found. Five of the region's eight institutions have experienced enrollment declines.

Moody's notes that colleges and universities had to manage plummeting revenues while paying for cleanup and recovery costs. While the federal government assumed some of the recovery and facility replacement costs, the pace of reimbursement posed liquidity challenges, Moody's reported. And some Katrina-related expense submissions are still under federal review 10 years later.

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Report: Cheyney U Mismanaged $30M in Federal Aid

Nearly $30 million in federal financial aid awarded to Cheyney University -- a public, historically black institution in Pennsylvania -- is in question after an internal review found at least one error in 85 percent of its records for federal grants between fiscal 2012 and fiscal 2014. The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education last year hired the independent firm Financial Aid Services (FAS) to reconcile Cheyney’s federal financial aid programs after it determined Cheyney hadn't performed the required reconciliation internally for those three years.

The U.S. Department of Education is reviewing the FAS report and will decide whether Cheyney will have to repay some or all of the funds it didn't administer properly. In the meantime, FAS is administering Cheyney's federal financial aid programs.

The report is damaging for Cheyney, an institution that's struggling with steep enrollment declines and a budget deficit that grows larger each year. "This report brings to light the deficiencies of many enrollment management functions, the university’s policies and procedures, communications, academic progress, student accounts, student records, financial records, and student information management systems resulting in overall findings of noncompliance with federal regulations for the administration and delivery of federal student aid totaling $29.6 million over three years," an executive summary of the report said.

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Educational spending by public universities increases despite state disinvestment

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Public universities are increasing educational spending even as their overall revenue declines, largely due to state funding cuts.

When a $100 Million Gift Almost Happens

An article in The Oregonian examines how Portland State University expected to announce a $100 million gift Tuesday and then was left hanging when the gift did not materialize. The university invited key politicians and informed the press (with an embargo for the press conference), even describing some details about the anonymous would-be donor. No information is available about why the gift didn't happen.

A statement from the university said: "Some individuals offer gifts to universities, institutions and charities, but they don't deliver a gift for personal or financial reasons that they wish to keep private. Ultimately, it's up to a donor to make a gift or not."

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Ashland University lays off tenured faculty, calls financial future 'bright'

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Ashland University eliminates faculty jobs -- including those of some with tenure -- to free up funds for new programs, deferred maintenance and faculty raises.

Law Students Sue Texas A&M for Alumni Status

Law students are suing Texas A&M University, saying the institution is taking credit for their work but not giving them alumni status.

Texas A&M purchased the Texas Wesleyan School of Law in Fort Worth in 2013 for $73 million, and in its advertising touts the achievements of the school's students before the merger. Yet much to the anger of former Wesleyan students, Texas A&M is not granting the graduates alumni status.

According to The Houston Chronicle, after the merger Texas Wesleyan effectively ceased to exist, leaving thousands of students who graduated from law school there without an alma mater that will recognize them.

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Connecticut Mayor Seeks a University for His Town

The Mayor of Bristol, Conn., is writing to college and university presidents throughout the state, letting them know that if they're looking to expand their reach, his town is open for business.

Mayor Ken Cockayne says 13 of the state's 15 largest cities have colleges or universities in town -- a boon to their citizens, who have easy access to college.

​“Unfortunately, Bristol is not one of those lucky 13,” Cockayne told The Bristol Press. But he's hoping his letters spark some interest: "In the end, you’ll never know unless you ask.”

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