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U. of Maine Suspends Pay Increases

The University of Maine System has suspended all discretionary pay increases amid criticism over raises awarded to 44 employees at the University of Southern Maine during a tight budget year, The Bangor Daily News reported. The system will conduct a review of salary increases at all campuses.

 

Tuition Grew by 2.58% Worldwide, With Great Variation by Country

University tuition fees rose by 2.58 percent in 40 developed countries in 2011 (1.76 percent when accounting for inflation), but student aid increased as well, leading to an overall increase in higher education affordability worldwide, according to a study published today by Higher Education Strategy Associates, a research group. While tuition rose significantly in the United States and South Africa, it fell by more than 5 percent in Pakistan, China, Hong Kong, Russia and Turkey; and while student aid declined in the U.S., due to cutbacks in Pell Grants, it increased significantly in Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Singapore and South Africa, the group found.

Student Borrowers With Highest Debt Loads Uninformed

Some student loan borrowers with the biggest debt loads didn't fully understand what they were getting into when they borrowed the money, a survey of those borrowers has found. The survey, by the advocacy group Young Invincibles and NERA Economic Consulting, asked borrowers who signed a petition about student loan forgiveness what they were told when they took out the loans. About two-thirds of the respondents, who had an average debt load of $76,000, said they didn't understand the difference between private loans and federal loans. Federal loans have more protections and typically lower interest rates than privately offered loans. Two-thirds also said they misunderstood or were surprised by something in the borrowing and repayment process.

Twenty percent said they found the amount of their monthly payments surprising. An additional 20 percent were surprised by repayment terms, and 15 percent were surprised by the amount of interest they would have to pay. Many of those borrowers appear to look back ruefully: "I wish I asked a million more questions than what I did, but at the same time, I don’t think I knew what to ask," one said, according to the report, "High Debt, Low Information."

Borrowers with more than $50,000 in debt are a small fraction -- about 11 percent -- of student debtors over all. The average outstanding student loan debt is $23,300.

State Funding Per Student Dropped in 2011

State and local funding for higher education remained almost constant in 2011, according to a State Higher Education Executive Officers Association study released today.

Instead of the marked decreases in state and local support for colleges seen the previous two years, overall funding saw a slight uptick from $87.2 billion in 2010 to $87.5 billion in 2011.

But that’s not cause for celebration, said Andrew Carlson, the association’s policy analyst. For one, that number is still considerably lower than the $88.8 billion awarded to colleges in 2008. And even though overall funding remained basically steady last year, enrollment grew. Having more students on campus means fewer government dollars per student and an increased reliance on tuition to pay university bills.

Nationally, state and local funding per full-time student fell $242 last year while net tuition revenue per full-time student increased $225. That exaggerates a long-term trend in which tuition went from supporting 23.2 percent of educational revenues in 1986 to 43.3 percent last year.

Complicating matters, Carlson said, is that next year’s numbers are projected to be worse. Enrollment is again expected to grow, while state funding dropped.

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Virginia program promotes shorter-term collaboration

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The University of Virginia hopes a new program brings more interdepartmental collaboration -- and fewer specialized centers -- to campus.

Pikeville abandons plan to become state university in Ky.

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Facing political opposition, private Kentucky university scraps push to become a state institution.

Restructuring proposal at Columbia Chicago prompts criticism

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Administrators say Columbia College Chicago's restructuring plan will let it become more nimble. But students and instructors worry applying a business approach to cuts could erode a unique arts and culture orientation.

Does Cal State Cost More Than Harvard?

Is Harvard University less expensive than public universities in California? A Bay Area News Group article explores the question, using a hypothetical family of four with $130,000 in family income. With Harvard's generous financial aid for middle class families, such a family would pay only $17,000 for a student to spend a year at Harvard. At Cal State, with much lower tuition rates, but much less aid, an in-state resident would pay about $24,000. Many students say these figures illustrate the flaws of California's policy of increasing tuition rates without sufficient financial aid.

Texas A&M Faculty Protest Outsourcing Plans

Faculty leaders in the Texas A&M University System are protesting plans to outsource hundreds of nonacademic jobs, The Eagle of Bryan/College Station reported. A Faculty Senate letter says that many of those who will lose jobs are longtime employees, that many of them are minority, low-income individuals and that many will be hurt by failing to reach key vesting milestones in the state retirement system. But Chancellor John Sharp is defending the plans. "I'm trying very hard to find something I agree with in that letter and I just can't do it," Sharp said. "I will continue to do all I can to redirect monies where possible to classrooms and research, even though that is apparently opposed by the Faculty Senate."

Fear Over Cuts at U. of Northern Iowa

Faculty members are speaking out against cuts due to be proposed by the administration next week at the University of Northern Iowa, The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported. Officials are preparing the plan to deal with budget shortfalls, and say that they have no choice but to propose deep cuts. Draft plans have been circulating and faculty union leaders say that they show a willingness to go too far. Cathy DeSoto, president of the faculty union, said that current plans would end undergraduate degrees in fields such as physics, geography, religion, philosophy and the teaching of English as a second language. "The reorganization that they've proposed, if it went through, it would eviscerate the university," she said.

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