California State University is planning to send letters to hundreds of thousands of applicants to the system's campuses, warning them that if voters in November defeat the governor's proposal to raise taxes, far fewer slots will be available, The Los Angeles Times reported. To drive home the point, Cal State has decided not to make admissions decisions until after Election Day. Typically, the university system starts admitting students in October. Anti-tax advocates are accusing the university of inappropriately campaigning for the governor's plan. But a spokeswoman for Cal State said that "we are just laying out the facts of what the budget is and what impact this will have on our budget."
Submitted by Kevin Kiley on September 13, 2012 - 3:00am
Concordia University-St. Paul announced Wednesday that it was dropping its undergraduate tuition and fees by a third for next year, joining a handful of institutions including the University of the South and the University of Charleston to cut their sticker price in the face of increased price sensitivity in the market. The sticker price for tuition and fees, currently set at $29,700, will be $19,700 next fall for all students, including those currently enrolled.
Administrators at Concordia said they were becoming concerned that students their traditional demographic -- middle- and lower-income students in Minnesota -- were ruling out Concordia as an option based on its price, despite the fact that after aid few students actually ended up paying that much. According to federal data, 99 percent of students at Concordia received some form of institutional aid.
Much of the student population at Concordia currently pays less than the new sticker price. The college's discount rate was 48 percent, meaning that students paid just over 50 percent of the sticker price on average. Concordia administrators said some revenue is likely to be lost by lowering the price, but that they hope to offset that by increasing enrollment.
Morris Brown College, which has been facing foreclosure this week because of its $30 million in debts, filed for federal bankruptcy protection on Friday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The historically black college lacks accreditation and has only a few dozen students, but its leaders said that filing for bankruptcy should delay foreclosure -- and that if a federal judge grants the college's request for bankruptcy protection, Morris Brown would have time to regroup.
Lon Morris College, a private, two-year institution in Texas that has been facing severe financial difficulties, has announced that it will not hold a fall semester. A statement from the college said that it is working with Jacksonville College and Tyler Junior College to find places for students admitted to the college. The statement said that the college is looking for a "purchaser" or "financial partner."
Submitted by Paul Fain on August 24, 2012 - 3:00am
Republican delegates have drafted a preliminary version of the immigration plank in the platform for the party's national convention that would deny federal funding to colleges and universities that allow illegal immigrants to enroll as in-state students, according to The New York Times. The plank reportedly takes a hard line on immigration generally. Delegates will consider the full platform for approval at next week's convention in Tampa, Fla.
Missouri State University officials said Tuesday that they had fired Mark Brixey as bookstore manager after he couldn't account for $400,000 in receipts over the last three years, KY3 News reported. A key clue: Auditors said that they discovered $81,000 in cash in Brixey's desk drawer last week, when he was on vacation. News accounts did not indicate if Brixey has responded to his dismissal or the allegations.
Let’s get one thing straight: Financial aid award letters can and should be improved to better help students understand the costs of higher education and the aid available to them.
Although Rachel Fishman’s Views article in Monday's Inside Higher Ed would have readers believe otherwise, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) and the 18,000 financial aid professionals we represent are committed to ensuring that students and families have the information they need to make good decisions about planning and paying for college.
Fishman’s opinion article not only oversimplifies and misrepresents NASFAA’s position, it wastes precious time drawing battle lines over a fight that doesn’t exist, instead of moving the policy discussion forward.
Here’s the reality:
All key stakeholders agree that improvement is needed in consumer disclosures about the cost of college. That’s why NASFAA convened a Consumer Information and Award Letter Task Force on this subject almost a year ago. In May, that task force released recommendations on how to improve award letters and consumer notification -- recommendations that align with the Department of Education’s recently released Shopping Sheet in several key areas.
NASFAA has never opposed or discouraged use of the Shopping Sheet. Rather, we have urged schools to carefully examine the Shopping Sheet to ensure it will effectively communicate important information. We’ve also encouraged members to – at a minimum – adopt the recommendations NASFAA issued in the spring. In a recent letter to members, I wrote, “Regardless of whether your institution adopts the Shopping Sheet, I urge you to strongly consider standardizing specific elements of the Shopping Sheet that are in correlation with NASFAA’s recommendations, as set forth by the Task Force and adopted by the NASFAA Board of Directors.”
NASFAA has been at the forefront of discussions about how to lead improvement of consumer disclosures. Rather than putting “entrenched institutional interests above students’ financial welfare” (as Fishman asserts) we’ve actually partnered with the Department of Education throughout this process, urging our members to offer feedback on preliminary versions of the Shopping Sheet as well as the final version. We were pleased to partner with key members of the Department of Education and White House to see aspects of our recommendations adopted in the final version.
Ignoring the existence of NASFAA’s detailed recommendations show at best a lack of research (or even cursory glance) on Fishman’s part, and at worst an intentional omission of facts in order to bolster her misguided assertions that do little to move this policy discussion forward.
The truth is that our recommendations align in many places with the goals of the Shopping Sheet. For instance, we concur with mandating the standardization of common terminology to avoid confusion and enhance comparability. We also recommend that self-help aid and student loans be clearly delineated from grants and scholarships. In fact, NASFAA’s recommendations go further than the shopping sheet, advocating for a one-stop online location where students can be shown all of their student loan indebtedness, both federal and private.
However, we do remain cautious about fully endorsing the Shopping Sheet because it hasn’t been consumer-tested against other models, including online and electronic models currently utilized successfully by leading institutions of higher education. Schools are already required to provide an overwhelming number of disclosures to students and parents. Without consumer testing, no one can assert that the Shopping Sheet is the best way to convey financial aid award information to all types of students. To ensure the Shopping Sheet is based on rigorous research rather than anecdote, NASFAA is planning a consumer test, to be conducted through an independent third-party evaluator.
In the absence of such empirical data, NASFAA encourages financial aid offices to “to carefully review the Shopping Sheet before adopting it to ensure it will effectively communicate this critical information to the students and families they serve.”
This statement of caution should not be misrepresented as opposition. NASFAA does not oppose the Shopping Sheet, but we do wish to circumvent unintended negative consequences, avoid additional confusion, and preserve the ability of schools to deliver information in ways that they have found best serve their particular populations.
Fishman states that “the Shopping Sheet may need to be altered in some circumstances.” We agree. Unfortunately, once a school agrees to use the Shopping Sheet in its current form, it cannot be altered to meet the unique needs of diverse higher education institutions -- and this inflexibility is one of NASFAA’s primary concerns.
For instance, some campuses send a different award letter to returning students than to incoming students. While the Shopping Sheet is designed to inform first-time or prospective students, the vast majority of college students are returning students.
Appropriate consumer disclosures that actually help students and families cannot be developed in a vacuum. Financial aid administrators are a key part of the ongoing dialogue. We agree that change is needed and some level of standardization is warranted, but this process must be deliberative and based on quantifiable data about what works for students and families. Anything less is a disservice to those we are trying to help.
Justin Draeger is president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.
St. Paul's College, a historically black college in Virginia, is suspending most operations for the fall semester, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. In the last month, the college has helped many of its students transfer to other institutions. The moves follow the decision in June of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to revoke St. Paul's accreditation. The college is appealing, and is also exploring possible mergers, but decided that suspending operations for the fall was the best course of action for now, officials said.