Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- In a Senate subcommittee hearing Wednesday morning, Education Secretary Arne Duncan reiterated the Obama administration's commitment to keeping the maximum Pell Grant at $5,550 in fiscal year 2012, although the grants are the main reason the Education Department's requested budget has increased 20 percent since 2010. "We desperately want to preserve that maximum Pell Grant," Duncan said, adding that the administration has made "tough calls," including ending year-round Pell Grants and proposing the end of interest subsidies on graduate student loans, to make that possible.

Senator Richard Shelby, the senior Republican on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, responded that the department would have to prioritize. "How are we going to pay for this? That's the bottom line," Shelby said. "What are your priorities in the Department of Education?... You're going to have to make some decisions." Although much of the hearing was devoted to elementary and secondary education programs, Duncan also responded to Senator Richard Durbin, a frequent critic of for-profit education who called proprietary colleges a "Ponzi scheme" that made him less willing to support federal financial aid programs. "We've tried to move in the right direction, and seen significant changes in behavior," Duncan said of the department's program integrity rules. "I think this is going the right way, and I feel much more comfortable in our investments in grants and loans -- more comfortable today than before we did our regulation."

Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 3:00am

The American Association of Community Colleges has released a report on community college students and Pell Grants. Among the findings:

  • Nearly 80 percent of Pell Grant recipients attending community colleges in 2009–10 had family incomes of less than 150 percent of the federal poverty threshold, and 60.7 percent were below the poverty threshold for a family of four ($20,000).
  • In 2009–10, 98.3 percent of Pell recipients at community colleges had allowable costs associated with attending college in excess of $6,000, and 91.9 percent had allowable costs in excess of $9,000.
  • Whereas only 40 percent of community college students enroll full time, nearly double that percentage of community college students receiving a Pell Grant were enrolled full time in 2009–10.
Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 3:00am

The new edition of The Pulse podcast features a conversation with Donald Doane, CEO of ConnectYard Inc., which integrates social media features with learning management systems. Find out more about The Pulse here.

Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 3:00am

Kentucky's attorney general, Jack Conway, on Wednesday sued Daymar College, charging the for-profit institution with overcharging students for textbooks, misleading students about financial aid and failing to offer accurate information about the ability of students to transfer credit to other institutions, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. Conway has been leading an inquiry into the practices of for-profit colleges in the state. A Daymar spokesman said the college denies allegations, and plans to defend itself in court.

Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Mount Holyoke College's Elizabeth Markovits explains a striking similarity between the plot elements that define Greek tragedy and the democratic process. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 3:00am
  • 242nd National Meeting & Exhibition, American Chemical Society, August 28-September 1, Denver.
  • 30th Annual Conference, Council for Opportunity in Education, September 25-28, Washington.
  • Annual Conference, Educause, October 18-21, Philadelphia.
  • 2011 Annual Meeting, American Studies Association, October 20-23, Baltimore, Md.
  • Chief Academic Officers Institute, Council of Independent Colleges, November 5-8, St. Petersburg Beach, Fla.
  • These meetings, conferences, seminars and other events will be held in the coming weeks in and around higher education. They are among the many such that appear in our calendar on The Lists on Inside Higher Ed, which also includes a comprehensive catalog of job changes in higher education. This listing will appear as a regular feature in this space.

    To submit a listing, click here.

    Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 3:00am

    Some public colleges, facing state budget cuts and pressure to limit tuition increases, are turning to fees, some of them temporary but many of them substantial, USA Today reported. The article noted that, in Georgia's public university system, tuition will be up 3 percent next year, but that with fees included, the hike would be 9 percent. At Indiana University at Bloomington, students this fall will pay a $180 "temporary repair and maintenance fee" -- which will double next year.

    Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 3:00am

    An Alabama judge on Wednesday approved a settlement between state officials and participants in the state's prepaid tuition program who had sued over the plan's payout rates, Alabama's treasurer announced. Under the settlement, families who paid into the Prepaid Affordable College Tuition Program will beginning this fall have their children's tuition and fee payments made at the rates that Alabama public colleges charged in fall 2010. Like many prepaid tuition programs, Alabama's has faced significant financial woes, and was projected to run out of funds by 2012 without some kind of cap on payments.

    Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 3:00am

    Kentucky's attorney general, Jack Conway, on Wednesday sued Daymar College, charging the for-profit institution with overcharging students for textbooks, misleading students about financial aid and failing to offer accurate information about the ability of students to transfer credit to other institutions, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. Conway has been leading an inquiry into the practices of for-profit colleges in the state. A Daymar spokesman said the college denies allegations, and plans to defend itself in court.

    Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 3:00am

    Amid signs that some public universities are ending a period of restraint on presidential pay, political leaders and higher education employees are criticizing salary levels in three states this week:

    • In California, Governor Jerry Brown told The Los Angeles Times that public university systems were selecting "hired guns" from across the country to lead campuses, instead of nurturing local talent that would take on the jobs for lower salaries. Brown's comments come amid continued criticism of the $400,000 salary for the new president of San Diego State University, $100,000 more than his predecessor earned. "I believe on the campuses now there are many people who don't make near that salary that should have been groomed for leadership," Brown said.
    • In Indiana, an editorial in The Journal Gazette questioned a 12 percent raise for Indiana University President Michael McRobbie (bringing pay to $533,000), and a campus union called for his raise not to exceed the 1.5 percent raises that its members are receiving. University board members say that they want McRobbie's pay level to be at least in the middle of those offered by Big 10 institutions. The Journal Gazette's reply: "[B]onuses and six-figure salaries are disheartening to taxpayers facing smaller paychecks or, worse yet, no paycheck at all. The argument that a public official has cut costs, raised capital or could be lured by higher pay elsewhere is a tough one to make when so many workers are grateful to have even a low-paying job."
    • In Vermont, faculty leaders at the University of Vermont are criticizing the salary ($27,000 a month) that Daniel Fogel will receive on the 17 month leave he is taking as he departs the presidency, Vermont Public Radio reported. Board leaders have said that the pay is justified, given Fogel's successes as president. Faculty leaders said that the compensation level is inappropriate in a time of tight budgets.

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