Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, July 9, 2015 - 3:00am

The availability of subsidized federal student loans play a role in increasing tuition, particularly at less-selective private nonprofit colleges with relatively affluent student bodies and for-profit colleges, a study by researchers for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York finds. The study adds to a body of studies -- frequently challenged by higher education leaders and some economists -- suggesting that federal financial aid contributes to tuition increases by easing constraints on students and families.

Thursday, July 9, 2015 - 4:34am

New evidence for the "completion agenda": finish college and you are likely to live longer. Researchers at New York University, the University of Colorado at Denver and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill released findings Wednesday that show consistent links between greater levels of education and longer lives. Mortality rates drop for higher levels of education, particularly at the bachelor's level -- and these drops could equal those achieved by behavioral changes involving unhealthy practices, such as smoking. In the 2010 population, for example, 110,068 deaths could be saved if adults who had some college but no degree went on to complete their bachelor’s degrees. The findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Thursday, July 9, 2015 - 3:00am

Time to play Inside Higher Ed's Cartoon Caption Contest.

Get creative and craft a caption for this month's new cartoon.

Or click here to cast a vote for your favorite among the three captions for last month's cartoon, chosen by our panel of judges.

And join us in congratulating David Nemeth, a professor in the department of geography and planning at the University of Toledo, winner of our May contest. His caption for the cartoon at right -- "And who might have imagined that I, a humble slug from Chernobyl, would some day achieve this honor …" -- received the most votes from our readers.

He will receive an Amazon gift certificate and a copy of the cartoon signed by the artist, Matthew Henry Hall.

Thursday, July 9, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Chris Liu, a professor of strategic management at the University of Toronto, discusses his research on whether personal interaction with people who hold conflicting ideology influences your thinking. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 3:00am

New data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center show that 37.2 percent of college students transfer at least once within six years. The research is based on the center's virtually comprehensive database of American college students. It tracked first-time students who enrolled in college in 2008.

Students often cross state lines (which means they don't necessarily show up in state databases of students or graduates). The clearinghouse said nearly a quarter of transfers from four-year institutions left the state. And community college was the top destination for transfer students from four-year institutions, with 53.7 moving to a two-year community college.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 3:00am

The University of California System this week announced a "new academic road map" for community college students in the state who seek to transfer to UC campuses. The transfer pathways include a single set of courses that UC said will prepare transfer students for 10 of the most popular majors at the university's nine campuses. The university said it plans to create pathways for another 11 majors later this year.

Roughly 30 percent of UC's undergraduates are transfer students, with 90 percent of those students coming from a California community college. The university said the transfer pathways will help UC meet its goal of enrolling at least one new transfer student for every two new freshmen. UC and Jerry Brown, California's governor, established the 2:1 ratio as part of a budget deal they struck earlier this year.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 3:00am

Senator Marco Rubio began to flesh out his higher education campaign plan on Wednesday with a major policy speech that featured some fighting words for traditional colleges.

"Within my first 100 days, I will bust this cartel by establishing a new accreditation process that welcomes low-cost, innovative providers," the Florida Republican and candidate for the Republican presidential nomination said in prepared statement.

The speech in Chicago built on related proposals Rubio has pushed in the Senate. He cited student debt levels and the lack of workforce relevance of degree programs as reasons to create a new accreditation pathway for upstart providers. "This would expose higher education to the market forces of choice and competition," he said, "which would prompt a revolution driven by the needs of students -- just as the needs of consumers drive the progress of every other industry in our economy."

Rubio also mentioned a bipartisan bill he previously co-sponsored that would give prospective students and parents detailed information on how much graduates in academic programs at individual colleges could expect to make.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 4:24am

Martin O'Malley, the former Maryland governor who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, is today releasing a proposal to create debt-free college options in public higher education. O'Malley's plan would take five years to carry out, but immediately he would create new loan refinancing options and limit monthly repayments based on income. Longer term, he would reduce the need for borrowing by calling on states to freeze public tuition rates, while creating new state-federal spending programs to add funds to public college budgets. O'Malley's plan calls for bringing four-year public tuition levels down to 10 percent of median income in a state (5 percent for community colleges). He says that the rates are more than 20 percent of median income in 10 states. Other parts of the plan would increase the value of Pell Grants and support efforts to speed up time to completion.

There are no details in the plan about how it would be financed, but aides told The Washington Post it could be paid by eliminating corporate tax loopholes and increases in the capital gains tax.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 3:00am

Twelve Native American women who are scholars of Native American studies have issued an open letter on Andrea Smith, a professor at the University of California at Riverside who is widely viewed as having falsely claimed for years to be Cherokee. (She is not current responding to questions about the matter). The letter, published in Indian Country Today, says that the discussions about Smith have caused a range of reactions, and that many worry about damage the field.

"Our concerns are about the profound need for transparency and responsibility in light of the traumatic histories of colonization, slavery and genocide that shape the present," says the letter. "Andrea Smith has a decades-long history of self-contradictory stories of identity and affiliation testified to by numerous scholars and activists, including her admission to four separate parties that she has no claim to Cherokee ancestry at all. She purportedly promised to no longer identify as Cherokee, and yet in her subsequent appearances and publications she continues to assert herself as a nonspecific 'Native woman' or a 'woman of color' scholar to antiracist activist communities in ways that we believe have destructive intellectual and political consequences. Presenting herself as generically indigenous, and allowing others to represent her as Cherokee, Andrea Smith allows herself to stand in as the representative of collectivities to which she has demonstrated no accountability, and undermines the integrity and vibrancy of Cherokee cultural and political survival."

Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 3:00am

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Tuesday released a report describing shortcomings the bureau has found in how student loan servicers treat military borrowers, which include improper denial of legal benefits, negative credit reporting and insufficient follow-through on legal protections for military families.

In 2012 the CFPB released an initial report on the issue. Since then, the bureau said, it has handled 1,300 complaints from military borrowers.

For example, the new report found that service members continue to report difficulties in getting interest rates for their loans capped at 6 percent, as the Servicemember Civil Relief Act requires. It also described how servicers fail to grant active-duty members of the military allowed deferments on loan payments, which can lead to surprise delinquencies, defaults and debt collection efforts.

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