studentaid

U. of Louisville Law School Offered More Aid Than It Had

The University of Louisville law school planned to offer $550,000 in aid to the students enrolling in the fall, but ended up offering $1.3 million -- creating a $2.4 million deficit over the next three years since the aid packages were for a full law school education, The Courier-Journal reported. The university will fulfill the aid promises, and will cut aid next year if money cannot be raised for the pledges made to new students. The law school's admissions director resigned on Monday.

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U.S. study examines college experiences of 1st and 2nd generation immigrants

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Undocumented immigrant students get all the political attention, but a new study explores how first- and second-generation Americans fare in college.

Proposed House budget would preserve funding for financial aid

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A House of Representatives budget proposal for 2013 would make no cuts to major financial aid programs, agreeing with a Senate version approved last month.

Education Dept. Proposes New Rules on Student Loans

The U.S. Education Department today proposed new rules governing federal student loans, which would, among other things, ease the process by which disabled borrowers could have their loans discharged, establish a new income-contingent repayment plan for direct student loans, and expand the government's income-based repayment program. The changes regarding borrowers with disabilities were prompted by concerns (many contained in a 2011 series by ProPublica) that they were being required to jump through far too many hoops to have their loans forgiven. The rules emerged from a round of negotiations that the agency held last winter, and public comments on the proposed changes are due by Aug. 16.

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Report Documents Shifts in How Students Pay for College

Students are shouldering an increased share of their own college tuition payments (with their parents picking up less of the tab), and more families are considering price when deciding where to send their children to college, according to an annual study by the lender Sallie Mae to be released today. The study, "How America Pays for College," found that the proportion of families that said they had stopped considering certain colleges had risen to 70 percent, up from 56 just three years ago. And the proportion of college expenses that students themselves paid for rose to 30 percent, the highest level in four years, with the proportion covered by parents' out-of-pocket expenditures falling to 28 percent, down by 9 points from a high two years ago.

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Distance education advocates worry about proposed changes to Pell Grant

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A Senate attempt to change distance education students' eligibility for Pell Grants for living expenses sprung from concern about financial aid fraud, but some say the changes would go too far.

New Federal Data about Tuition, Enrollment, Degrees

The Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics released preliminary data Thursday about types of degrees offered and conferred, tuition and fees rates, and enrollment head counts. Provisional data will be released in about three months, and final data will be available in 2012-13.

Some findings from the report -- “Postsecondary Institutions and Price of Attendance in 2011-12, Degrees and Other Awards Conferred: 2010-11, and 12-Month Enrollment: 2010-11” -- are:

  • Between 2009-10 and 2011-12, the average tuition and fees at four-year public colleges, after adjusting for inflation, increased more for in-state students -- 9 percent, to about $7,200 -- than for out-of-state students -- 5.6 percent, to about $16,500. Nonprofit institutions reported a 4.3 percent increase in tuition and fees, to about $23,300, and for-profit institutions reported no increase from the 2009-10 inflation-adjusted figure of about $15,200.
  • Of the 7,398 Title IV institutions in the United States in 2011-12, 41.3 percent, or 3,053, were classified as four-year institutions. About 31.5 percent, or 2,332, were two-year institutions, and 27.2 percent, or 2,013 were less-than-two-year institutions. About 27.6 percent, or 2,039, of all the institutions were public. About 25.5 percent, or 1,890, were nonprofit, and the largest proportion -- 46.9 percent, or 3,469 -- were for-profit institutions.
  • For 2010-11, institutions reported an unduplicated headcount enrollment of about 29.5 million students, comprising about 25.6 million undergraduates and about 3.9 million graduate students. About 12.6 million students were male, and 16.9 million were female.
  • For the same year, institutions reported conferring about 3.6 million degrees. Four-year institutions handed out about 2.9 million of them and two-year institutions awarded about 650,000. Of these, 942,336 were associate degrees. The most popular type of degree was a bachelor’s degree -- 1,715,913. A total of 730,635 master’s degrees were awarded, and 163,765 of all types of doctoral degrees were handed out.

Illinois Finally Kills Legislative Scholarships

For many years, critics have derided "legislative scholarships" in Illinois that allow legislators to give scholarships to public universities to students in their districts, with very few limitations. On Wednesday, Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, signed legislation to kill off the program, The Chicago Tribune reported. Several Tribune investigations focused on the fairness of the program. In 2009, the newspaper found that in the five prior years, lawmakers gave at least 140 scholarships to relatives of campaign donors.

 

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Report: College isn't really so unaffordable

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In white paper, economists say perception is "worse than reality" and that students and families should view higher education as long-term investment, not a good they consume.

A business-friendly argument for more government support for higher ed (essay)

Academics have historically balked when confronted with suggestions that the education system is a business and should be treated as such. They speculate that placing a monetary value on an entity with a deep, intellectual purpose diminishes the overall significance of learning. They claim that you cannot quantify the positive benefits of a degree.

But this is not the case. Education, particularly higher education, is a business, and one of the few left in this country that guarantees a positive return. To call education a business isn’t to undermine its importance to our country and citizens — it provides the proof that our higher education systems should be a top priority, if not the top priority, for government spending.

Quite simply, the future of our economy depends on well-educated workers. More than 59 percent of jobs today require some postsecondary education, yet these degrees are becoming increasingly difficult to attain. We must evaluate higher education based on the return institutions generate for the country both in terms of absolute dollars and competitiveness.

Public higher education depends on state and federal budget allocations. We have a choice as to how we distribute these public funds. By continually prioritizing Social Security, health care, and defense spending over education, the government is indirectly hindering an increase of college graduates that our economy so desperately needs. By 2018, 63 percent of jobs will require a college degree, but we are likely to fall 3 million graduates short of what the market demands, according to a recent study.

Today, the federal government spends approximately $30 billion annually subsidizing enrollment in higher education institutions, with most of the money spent on financial aid, and roughly 8 percent going to grants to institutions. According to a Cato Institute Study, the federal government also provides approximately $30 billion to U.S. universities to fund research projects. While these are certainly hefty investments, combined it means the government only contributes 14 percent of the total dollars — $420 billion — that flow into higher education institutions.

Higher education is the best investment we can make for our country’s future. But are we doing enough to support educational institutions and students? Higher education provides annuity-like returns for 40 years — the working years of most graduates. Over the course of an average lifetime, a holder of a four-year-equivalent degree (the weighted average of associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, professional, and doctorate degrees) gives the government $471,000 in income, payroll, property, and sales tax revenue. You certainly can quantify the value of a degree: that’s more than twice what it would collect in lifetime taxes from a high school graduate lacking a college degree, according to a University of Maine study.

In California, for instance, every dollar the state invests in higher education leads to a $3 net return on investment. The University of California System (UC) contributes more than $14 billion in California economic activity and more than $4 billion in tax revenues each year, not to mention the impact from UC-related spinoffs. Further, the California State System (CSU) ensures businesses get the trained workforce they require — CSUs graduate 45 percent of the state’s computer and electrical engineers. Despite this, the UC and CSU schools have seen a 28 percent decline in state support between fiscal years 2007-2008 and 2011-2012, according to a study done by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.

Higher education graduates help fuel innovation that creates new jobs. Research universities contribute new technologies — from Internet search algorithms to genetic coding — and file thousands of patents annually. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of February 2009 provided some funds for higher education (mainly to prevent states from reallocating education dollars for other purposes). However, these funds are miniscule — less than a percent — in comparison to the total funding for research universities, according to the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board.

If the government should plateau on its investment in higher education, we’ve raised the risk level of our current investment. When endowments are down and state governments cut funding to state universities, tuition rates rise and the likelihood of students not graduating increases. According to the American Institutes for Research, students who started bachelor degree programs in the fall of 2002 but failed to graduate in six years cost the students approximately $3.8 billion in lost income in 2010 alone.

A recent Inside Higher Ed blog post discusses an interesting approach to lowering tuition costs while increasing the numbers of students able to enroll in universities and earn degrees, using a simple supply and demand model. Approaching the problem from an economic standpoint does not undermine the importance of receiving an education; it highlights its very necessity, and makes it more accessible.

As taxpayers, we need to be asking about our tax dollars’ return on investment. From 1987 to 2006, we doubled federal support for Medicaid in state budgets — increasing these funds from 10.2 percent to 21.5 percent — but decreased federal expenditures for higher education from 12.3 percent of state budgets to 10.4 percent, according to a University of California study.

We need to have a conversation about education similar to the national debate we had about the automotive and financial industries. We should not view education expenditures as discretionary dollars that we can increase and decrease at will, but rather as the most dependable, profitable, and ultimately, important investment our government can make.

Mehdi Maghsoodnia (@mmaghsoodnia) is CEO of Rafter, which provides software tools for cloud-based distribution of course materials. Rafter is also the parent company of textbook rental service Bookrenter.com.

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