Quick Takes: $50M Gift for Community College Students, U.S. Plans for Last Resort Student Loans, Layoffs at Florida, Voting vs. Finals

May 6, 2008
  • The Bernard Osher Foundation plans today to announce a $50 million grant to create an endowment to provide scholarships for students attending community colleges in California, The San Jose Mercury News reported. An additional $20 million gift will support students who transfer from community colleges to public universities in the state. While $50 million gifts have become almost common at institutions with billion-dollar fund-raising drives, donations of this size are extremely rare when focused on community colleges and their students.
  • The U.S. Education Department issued guidance Monday to help student loan guarantee agencies carry out the federal government's "lender of last resort" program by summertime if the credit crunch continues to limit the availability of loans for some students and other, more desirable methods of ensuring liquidity fall short. In a letter to guarantors, Under Secretary of Education Sara Martinez Tucker laid out a path for the nonprofit agencies to make loans to students at institutions that find themselves unable to secure other options. But it is widely agreed -- even among the guarantee agencies themselves -- that most students, colleges and lenders will be better off if the Education Department finds other ways to bolster lenders, who then make loans available directly to students, as legislation approved last week by Congress aims to ensure. In addition, numerous other institutions appear to be leaving the guaranteed student loan program for the government's competing direct loan program.
  • The University of Florida, facing state budget cuts, on Monday announced a plan to reduce spending by $47 million and to eliminate 430 positions. While many positions are already empty, the plan includes layoffs of 20 non-tenured faculty members and 118 staff members.
  • The student vote has been crucial to Sen. Barack Obama in his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination. There are plenty of students in today's primary states, Indiana and North Carolina, but this is the time of the academic year that even the most politically engaged of students tend to be focused on final exams. The Wall Street Journal reported on how the Obama campaign has encouraged early voting and used other tactics so that the youth vote remains high in today's contests.
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