Quick Takes: Amherst Eliminates Loans, House Passes Education Bill, Lender Settles With Cuomo, $3.5M Settlement of Retaliation Suit, Stem Cell Plan, Probe of St. Louis Campaign, Guidance on Affirmative Action, Ignorance of Loans

July 20, 2007
  • Amherst College announced Thursday that it is eliminating all loans for students, effective with the Class of 2012. In 1999, Amherst eliminated loans for students from families with incomes of less than $40,000, but many students continue to borrow. In 2006-7, almost one third of Amherst students received aid packages that included loans. Anthony W. Marx, Amherst's president, said in a statement that the shift "broadens" the commitment made in 1999 "by eliminating barriers for middle income families." The college expects to spend about $1.6 million next year to replace loans with grants. While a number of colleges have eliminated loans for those below certain income levels, blanket policies like this one are rare. Princeton University eliminated loans in 2001 and Davidson College did so this year.
  • After three days of debate, the U.S. House of Representatives, by a margin of 276 to 140, approved legislation Thursday that would set 2008 spending for education, health, and labor programs. The many hours of debate and amendment did not significantly alter the major higher education elements of the bill, which would increase the maximum Pell Grant by $390, to $4,700, and increase funds for the National Institutes of Health by 2.6 percent. One amendment approved late Wednesday would prohibit the Education Department from using any funds in the bill to carry out a plan to enact controversial changes in the Upward Bound program. The most noteworthy thing about Thursday's vote was how close supporters of the bill came to passing it by a veto-proof margin, with 19 representatives not voting. President Bush has vowed to veto the legislation because it would spend more than he believes it should.
  • The College Loan Corporation has become the latest lender to agree to abide by the code of conduct issued by Andrew Cuomo, New York State's attorney general, The New York Times reported. Cuomo found that the lender had used counseling sessions it conducted for colleges as a chance to market its services.
  • The University of California Board of Regents agreed Thursday to pay $3.5 million to Karen Moe Humphreys, a former women's coach at the Berkeley campus who sued, charging that she was laid off in 2004 in retaliation for complaining about inequities in women's athletics, the Los Angeles Times reported. Humphreys said that the funds would be used entirely for legal costs.
  • Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick on Thursday proposed that the state spend $500 million to build the world's largest repository of stem cell lines and a gene research center at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
  • Authorities are investigating some of the spending in a failed tax referendum last year on behalf of St. Louis Community College, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
  • The College Board on Thursday issued guidance for member institutions on how to maintain affirmative action the wake of the Supreme Court's decision last month that rejected two school districts' use of race in assigning students to schools. The general conclusion of the College Board analysis is that while affirmative action in higher education remains legal, colleges must be sure that their goals are "mission driven and educationally focused," and are not based on "numbers alone." The report also advised colleges to be sure that they had considered "race-neutral" alternatives.
  • Colleges, lenders and the government all need to do more to help students and their families understand the terms behind student loans, according to a new report from Consumers Union. The report, financed by the Pew Charitable Trusts, finds that far too few students and their families understand the implications of debt.
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