Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 14, 2015

Many states are moderately restoring higher education funding, but major cuts during the 2008 recession have made for an uphill battle.

In 47 states, per-student public funding for higher education remains well below prerecession levels, according to a report released Wednesday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. That's in spite of the fact that 37 states increased higher education funding last year by an average of nearly 4 percent. The average state is spending $1,805 per student, or 20 percent less than before the 2008 recession. In severe cases -- like in Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and South Carolina -- funding has been reduced by 35 percent.

“Deep state funding cuts have had major consequences for public colleges and universities. States (and to a lesser extent localities) provide roughly 53 percent of the revenue that can be used to support instruction at these schools,” stated the report.

The data in the report are based on the latest edition of an annual report on state appropriations for higher education by the Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University and the State Higher Education Executive Officers.

May 14, 2015

Massive open online course provider edX and chip maker Qualcomm are working together to improve access to courses hosted on the platform on mobile devices, the two companies announced on Wednesday. Qualcomm Education, a subsidiary, will make parts of its software development kit available for licensing through Open edX, the MOOC provider's open courseware development platform.

May 14, 2015

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Thursday that it has launched a “public inquiry” into the practices of companies that collect and manage student loan payments.

Officials from the bureau are soliciting public feedback on a range of issues relating to student loan servicers, including whether the federal government should more tightly regulate the companies. They are also seeking input on whether the federal government should pay the servicers for federal loans differently in order to provide more incentives for them to help struggling borrowers avoid default.

The Education Department has previously defended its current loan-serving model, which involves hiring four main companies to manage payments of federal student loan borrowers. Consumer advocates and some Senate Democrats have criticized the department’s oversight of those loan servicers.

The CFPB supervises large student loan servicing companies, including the four main federal loan servicers.

The public comments are “meant to find ways to put the ‘service’ back into the student loan servicing market and help people avoid unnecessary defaults,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray was to say at a student debt hearing in Wisconsin Thursday, according to prepared remarks.

The feedback will also, officials said, inform a joint report with the Education and Treasury Departments about loan servicing. That review was ordered by President Obama earlier this year as part of several executive actions his administration dubbed a Student Aid Bill of Rights.

May 14, 2015

Faculty members at Green River College, a community college in Washington State, rallied Wednesday to demand the ouster of President Eileen Ely, The Seattle Times reported. Professors are angry over the proposed elimination of several trades programs, and say that faculty members are being left out of important decisions. Ely was not on campus Wednesday, but a spokesperson said that some cuts were needed to reflect enrollment shifts.

May 14, 2015

The University of California at Los Angeles on Wednesday announced a $100 million gift for its business school -- the largest ever for the business school. The donation is from Marion Anderson. The UCLA Anderson School of Management is named for her late husband, John E. Anderson, in recognition of an earlier gift by the couple. UCLA will use $60 million from the new gift for financial aid, fellowships and research funding. The remaining $40 million will be seed funding for a new building.

May 14, 2015

Professors at the University of Connecticut College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources decided on an unconventional way to exit this year's commencement.


May 14, 2015

Georgiana Bostean, a sociologist at Chapman University, discusses research on the crises currently being faced in the field of elder care. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

May 13, 2015

Millions of students and families will now pay less to borrow money from the federal government to finance college in the coming academic year.

Interest rates on federal student loans are set to drop by more than one-third of a percentage point following the U.S. Treasury’s sale on Wednesday of 10-year notes. Rates are reset each year based on the yield of the note set by that auction.

The interest rate on new loans for undergraduate students will drop to 4.29 percent from the current 4.66 percent. The cost of new direct loans for graduate students will fall to 5.84 percent from 6.21 percent.

Rates on PLUS loans for graduate students or parents paying their children’s college costs will also tick down to 6.84 percent from 7.21 percent.

The new interest rates for the 2015-16 academic year take effect on July 1. The changes do not affect borrowers with older loans. 



Current Rate


New Rate


Undergrad Direct Loans

Subsidized & Unsubsidized



Graduate Direct Loans



PLUS Loans

Grad PLUS & Parent PLUS





May 13, 2015

When officials of the University of Texas System hired Gregory Fenves as the new president of the flagship campus at Austin, they said his base salary would be $750,000. The Austin American-Statesman filed an open records request for documents related to the offer and discovered something that was left off the press release-- the system offered Fenves a base salary of $1 million, and he turned it down, saying that he didn't want to be paid that much. And while he is eligible for a 10 percent bonus based on various performance metrics, that's smaller than the 12 percent bonus the system proposed.

In an email Fenves sent to system officials, he explained why he was turning down $1 million as the base figure. "With many issues and concerns about administrative costs, affordability and tuition, such a salary will affect the ability of the president to work with the Texas Legislature on matters important to the university,” he said. Fenves added that such a large salary would attract “widespread negative attention from students and faculty given the difficult budgetary constraints of the past five years.”

May 13, 2015

While testing companies must respond constantly to allegations of security breaches outside the United States, the Educational Testing Service is investigating a possible security breach on the SAT given in the United States on May 2, The Washington Post reported. The day before the exam was given, a Post reporter received copies of two SAT exams that included many questions used on the May 2 test. Many of the more sophisticated cheating schemes involve having an advance copy of questions.

A statement from ETS, which manages the SAT for the College Board, said it was investigating and that there was a possibility that scores could be delayed. "We are aware of reports regarding the May administration and are working to determine if score holds will be necessary. Any affected test takers will be notified by ETS prior to the planned score release date of May 21. We understand and share the frustration of students and their families when the illegal activities of certain organizations and individuals cause score delays," said the ETS statement. "Our responsibility is to deliver valid scores to colleges and universities -- even when doing so takes additional time."


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