Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, February 2, 2012 - 3:00am

A petition asking Sallie Mae to revoke the $50 quarterly "forbearance fee" that the lender imposes on borrowers who are unable to repay their student loans has gathered more than 75,000 signatures. Forbearance, when loans continue to accumulate capitalized interest although borrowers do not have to make payments, is the last resort to avoid default, and the petition protests the $50 fee as an "unemployment tax."

"As an unemployed person desperately looking for work, I need every extra dollar I have to pay for rent, electricity and groceries," wrote Stef Gray on the petition. "But Sallie Mae is preying on people like me and cashing in on the fact that we need more time to find work before we can repay our student loans."

Such fees are not uncommon on private loans, and Sallie Mae has defended them as a way to ensure that the borrower is committed to continuing to pay.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 4:32am

Legislators in Florida and Georgia are having contentious debates this week about undocumented students and public higher education. In Georgia, lawmakers are debating legislation that would bar from public higher education all students who lack legal documentation to reside in the United States, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. At a hearing Tuesday, many spoke out against the bill, and lawmakers suggested that they would consider some flexibility for colleges. Last year, the state higher education system toughened its rules on such students, saying that they could not enroll in any college that is turning away qualified applicants. The issue has attracted considerable attention despite the relatively small numbers of students involved. Of the state system's 318,000 students, about 300 are undocumented, down from 500 before rules were tightened.

In Florida on Tuesday, legislation to help such students (by granting them in-state tuition rates) died in a tie vote in committee, the Associated Press reported.

 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 4:33am

Federal authorities have charged Craig Grimes, a former professor at Pennsylvania State University, with fraud, making false statements and money laundering associated with $3 million in federal grants, the Associated Press reported. The charges relate to grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy. Grimes did not respond to requests for comment.

 

 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Martin Edwards of Seton Hall University explains why many countries around the world have embraced a high level of transparency concerning their economic performance. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of Colorado at Boulder has dropped its SAT requirement for international applicants, The Boulder Daily Camera reported. Officials said that many international applicants reported difficulty finding test centers for the SAT (or for the ACT). However, Boulder has simultaneously moved to increase the minimum score required (from 61 to 75, on a scale of 120) for applicants to achieve on the Test of English as a Foreign Language.

 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 3:00am

A senior White House education adviser took questions from college presidents Tuesday at the annual meeting of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, providing a few more details on the administration's plan to make college affordable. After a panel discussion of affordability issues, which featured college presidents sharing their methods for helping students with tuition and loan repayment, Zakiya Smith tried to alleviate some of the private colleges' concerns. The administration will focus only on net price, not list price, she said, adding that officials would seek input and advice from colleges and associations.

"We know this is a shared responsibility," Smith said. "Hearing about those things gave us hope, gave us promise." Several presidents emphasized that the Race to the Top-like fund for college affordability or other maintenance of effort clauses should require that state-level financial aid, which can help students attending private colleges, be maintained as well.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 3:00am

One editorial board member has resigned and another may follow, after the publication in the Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology questioning the link between HIV and AIDS, Nature reported. The paper's lead author is Peter Duesberg of the University of California at Berkeley, who has for years questioned that link -- much to the consternation of most AIDS scientists who believe it has been well established.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 3:00am

James Ammons, president of Florida A&M University, on Tuesday announced that he is temporarily banning all student clubs from recruiting, admitting or initiating any new members, the Associated Press reported. The announcement is the latest response to the hazing-related death of a member of the university's marching band. Ammons also announced that he is calling off a planned summer band camp.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - 4:18am

Robert M. Franklin is stepping down as president of Morehouse College at the end of this academic year, after five years in office, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Given Morehouse's prominence among historically black colleges, Franklin has been a highly visible advocate for the education of black students. At Morehouse, he has been a successful fund-raiser, but has also embraced the bully pulpit role of the college president (a role associated with many Morehouse presidents), speaking out regularly about students' moral development and a range of ethical issues.

 

Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Dean Goldberg of Mount Saint Mary College reveals how political campaigns came to rely so heavily on television commercials. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

 

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