House panel scrutinizes endowments and college affordability

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A House Ways and Means subcommittee examines endowments, but lawmakers focus on college affordability.

Clinton campaign promotes free college proposal with release of cost calculator tool

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Hillary Clinton's campaign promotes her debt-free college plan with a tool showing future students and current borrowers how much they would save under her proposals.

CFPB Penalizes Bridgepoint Over Private Loans

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has sanctioned Bridgepoint Education, owner of Ashford University, for "deceiving students into taking out private student loans that cost more than advertised," the federal watchdog agency said Monday.

The CFPB ordered Bridgepoint to discharge all outstanding institutional loans made to its students and to refund loan payments made by borrowers -- a total of $23.5 million in payments to 1,277 affected students. The company also must pay an $8 million civil fine. The penalties are among the largest the young agency, which the Obama administration created, has levied in higher education so far.

Beginning in 2009, Bridgepoint offered private loans to its students. The bureau said the publicly traded for-profit deceived students about the total cost of loans by telling them the wrong monthly repayment amount. The CFPB's sanctions include a requirement that Bridgepoint use a newly created financial aid disclosure tool with its students, which includes personalized financial aid information as well student outcomes data such as graduation and loan default rates, potential salaries for graduates and postgraduation budgeting.

In a written statement, Bridgepoint said the CFPB identified only one problem area with the loan program -- that employees of the company may have verbally told students that loans could be paid in installments as low as $25 per month, when the actual payments may have been higher.

"While Bridgepoint maintains that its institutions acted in good faith and provided all appropriate tools and disclosures for the loan programs," the company said, "Bridgepoint chose to negotiate a mutually agreeable resolution in order to move forward and allow its institutions to focus on students."

New Federal Report on Remedial Education

The U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics released a new data analysis this week on U.S. college students who took remedial courses and on who completed them.

The report followed first-time students for the six years from 2003-9. Among community college students, 68 percent took remedial courses, and almost half took two or more. The data showed that 40 percent of incoming students at public, four-year institutions took remedial courses, with 21 percent taking at least two.

About half (49 percent) of community college students completed all their remedial course work, according to the report, compared to 59 percent of students at public, four-year institutions. And 16 percent of remedial course takers at community colleges failed to complete any of their remedial courses, as did 15 percent of students at public, four-year colleges.

Context on Increases in Tuition and Textbook Prices

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has released some comparative data to mark the start of a new academic year. From January 2006 to July 2016, the Consumer Price Index for college tuition and fees increased 63 percent. That compares to 21 percent for all items. During the same period, consumer prices for college textbooks increased 88 percent.


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Education Department bars ITT Tech from enrolling new students with federal aid

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Education Department's new sanctions against the for-profit college include a ban on enrolling new students who receive federal aid and tougher financial oversight.

Iowa regulator agreed with Ashford University's complaint about meddling by federal and California agencies

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Ashford University cries foul on veterans' agency and California for meddling in Iowa's decision to yank the for-profit's GI Bill eligibility, and newly released emails show an Iowa official shared that view.

Third-party presidential candidates offer contrasting approaches to higher ed

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Green Party's Jill Stein wants to cancel all student debt. Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson wants to kill Education Department.

Federal data show strong interest in Public Service Loan Forgiveness, income-driven repayment

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New data from the Department of Education show more than 400,000 have submitted a form indicating interest in a new Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

Ursinus Offers $30,000 a Year to Some Students

Ursinus College is making a bid to prove to top students that it can be affordable, starting a new scholarship program guaranteeing tens of thousands of dollars for four years for freshmen who meet certain academic standards.

The 1,700-student private liberal arts college outside of Philadelphia has created a Gateway Scholarship guaranteeing $30,000 per year for four years. To be eligible, students must earn a minimum ACT composite score of 28 or a combined 1260 on the SAT's critical reading and math segments. They must also meet college preparatory-level course requirements.

The $30,000 per year is roughly half of the $61,690 total cost of attending Ursinus in 2016-17. Ursinus charges $49,370 in tuition and fees and $12,320 for room and board. But its 2015-16 discount rate was 57.4 percent, and just 3 percent of its students paid the full cost of attendance.

Students applying for the new scholarship can still apply for additional need-based aid.


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