Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 10, 2014

Top Obama administration officials on Thursday held a meeting at the Treasury Department with more than a dozen financial institutions and loan servicing entities to discuss ways to improve the private student loan market. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray and Acting Deputy Treasury Secretary Mary Miller were among the administration officials and government regulators who met with executives from the largest student lenders and servicers.

“Participants discussed strategies to assist borrowers in successfully managing their private student loans, including servicing best practices and approaches to private student loan modifications and refinancing,” according to the Treasury Department’s account of the closed-door meeting.

Miller urged the banks and loan servicing companies “to continue their efforts to expand options for repayment in the private student loan marketplace,” the department said. "Private student lenders and servicers can and should do more to offer more affordable repayment options so borrowers can avoid default," Cordray said in a statement after the meeting.  

Cordray’s agency has been critical about some practices in the private student loan market. The CFPB previously raised concerns about problems with the servicing of private student loans, especially with regard to military service members. Starting in March, the bureau will begin more closely monitoring of the largest student loan servicing companies. Private lenders and loan servicers have also drawn scrutiny from consumer advocates and several members of Congress. A group of Senate Democrats is pushing legislation by Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois that would increase regulation of private student loans and how companies service those loans.

Attending the meeting from the private student loan industry included executives from: Sallie Mae, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, RBS Citizens Financial, PNC Financial Services, CommonBond, SunTrust Banks, Discover Financial Services, American Education Services (also known as the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency), Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation, and the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority.

January 10, 2014

Career Colleges of America, a three-campus institution that focuses on medical training, appears ready to close its doors, The Press-Enterprise reported. The newspaper said that the for-profit institution faced significant financial problems, including having been put on "cash management" status by the U.S. Department of Education. The Los Angeles Times reported that the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training had formally alerted the college's officials Wednesday that its accreditation had been revoked. Officials from the institution could not be reached for comment, but an official of the state's for-profit-college association told the Press-Enterprise that he believed the institution was poised to close.

 

 

January 10, 2014

The U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating a federal complaint alleging that Lehigh University failed to respond to race-related harassment on campus, the institution confirmed Thursday. The complaint, first reported by The Morning Call, was filed by a 1977 Lehigh graduate who says the university did not report vandalism of a multi-cultural residence hall as a hate crime. Instead, the complaint says, officials classified the November 2013 incident in which the house was allegedly egged and spray-painted with racial slurs as criminal mischief, which is not required to be reported under the Clery Act.

Lehigh said in a statement that it will “fully cooperate” with the investigation, “and will work with OCR to achieve our goal of making Lehigh a more diverse and inclusive community. Lehigh has a long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion and, with strong engagement by students, faculty, staff and the administration, has accelerated our efforts with a number of initiatives underway.”

January 10, 2014

A federal study tracking a cohort of high school sophomores over 10 years shows that about half had a postsecondary credential, that those who went straight to college after high school were far likelier to earn a degree, and that the bachelor's degree holders among them were less likely to be unemployed or to have lost a job since 2006.

The report, published by the National Center for Education Statistics and drawn from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002, examines a range of employment and other outcomes a decade later for students who were high school sophomores that year. Among the findings:

  • A third (33 percent) of the 2002 high school sophomores had earned a bachelor's degree or higher, another 9 percent had associate degrees, 10 percent had undergraduate-level certificates, and 32 percent had attended college but lacked a credential. Forty-two percent of fhose who went to college within three months of completing high school had earned a bachelor's degree, and 11 percent had earned a master's.
  • Of those who went to college, 40 percent had no student loan debt, 36 percent had borrowed less than $25,000, and 11 percent had more than $50,000 in student loans.
  • Those with some kind of postsecondary credential were less likely to be unemployed (11.8 percent, vs. 25.9 percent of those who did not complete high school and 15 percent who had only a high school diploma), and to have received public assistance (26.2 percent, vs. 47.2 and 32.4 percent, respectively).
January 9, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Wing Yee (VerBon) Cheung of the University of Southampton explains why how we think about the past can influence attitudes about the future. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

January 9, 2014

WASHINGTON -- The Education Department is convening a panel of experts to make public presentations later this month on how the Obama administration should develop a federal college ratings system, a department spokesman said Tuesday.

The National Center for Education Statistics, the department’s research arm, will host a symposium on January 22 featuring “experts on empirical methods for measuring performance, metric development, and state and federal postsecondary data and data collection and dissemination infrastructures,” according to a forthcoming department announcement. 

Officials have asked the attendees to make presentations based on the department’s December request for information on how it should piece together a ratings system. In that notice, official sought answers to 30 questions, including information on what kinds of data are available, how they should be weighted in a ratings system, and how best to present ratings information to consumers.

The daylong event will be held at the Education Department’s K Street offices here and will be open to the public. A department spokesman Tuesday confirmed the following list of experts who will be presenting:

  • Braden Hosch, State University of New York at Stony Brook
  • Brandon Busteed, Gallup
  • Christine Keller, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
  • Dana Mukamel, University of California at Irvine
  • David Figlio, Northwestern University
  • Don Hossler, Indiana University
  • Hans L’Orange, State Higher Education Executive Officers association
  • John Pryor, University of California at Los Angeles
  • Kevin Carey, New America Foundation
  • Patrick Kelly, National Center for Higher Education Management Systems
  • Patrick Perry, California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office
  • Robert Kelchen, Seton Hall University
  • Robert Morse, U.S. News & World Report
  • Roger Benjamin, Council for Aid to Education
  • Russell Poulin, Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education’s Cooperative for Educational Technologies
  • Sarah Turner, University of Virginia
  • Sean Corcoran, New York University
  • Tod Massa, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
  • Tom Bailey, Columbia University 
January 9, 2014

California Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, will present his 2014-15 budget plan today, and a leaked copy suggests a continued recovery in state support for higher education -- especially for community colleges. The University of California and California State University systems would each receive a 5 percent increase, contingent on continued adherence to a deal with the state to freeze tuition rates. State funds for community colleges would increase by more than 11 percent. In his budget plan, Governor Brown calls for more efforts throughout public higher education to be more efficient and to improve graduation rates. While the plan requires legislative approval, the ideas in the plan have attracted legislative support.

Governor Brown is also proposing a $50 million awards program to use $50 million in one-time General Fund for the Awards for Innovation in Higher Education program. Funds would support grants for colleges with plans to "significantly increase the number of individuals in the state who earn bachelor’s degrees, allow students to earn bachelor’s degrees that can be completed within four years of enrollment in higher education and ease transfer through the state’s education system, including by recognizing learning that has occurred across the state’s education segments or elsewhere."

 

January 9, 2014

A student's request at York University in Canada has set off a debate over conflicting rights, The Globe and Mail reported. The student is male and enrolled in an online course, and he has objected to a requirement for a group work project that would require him to meet in person with some students, including female students. He says a public meeting with women would violate his religious beliefs. The professor wants to reject the request, saying that to grant it would endorse a biased view of women. But the university says that the professor should grant the request out of deference to religious beliefs. The student's religion has not been identified.

 

January 9, 2014

Cengage Learning, the second-largest higher education publisher in the U.S., on Tuesday announced it has formed a partnership with Knewton to provide adaptive learning technology in a handful of its products. Cengage will use Knewton technology in the company's MindTap platform, an interactive textbook reader. The technology will first appear in the management and sociology disciplines, a Knewton spokesman said.

The partnership is the latest in a series for Knewton, which provides its technology to publishers such as Cambridge University Press and Pearson. Cengage is in the midst of restructuring after the company filed for bankruptcy protection in July.

January 9, 2014

A new report from MDRC, a nonprofit social policy research organization, describes promising efforts to help the 39 million adult Americans who lack a high-school credential successfully transition to college. The report looks at three general types of adult education reforms: efforts to increase the rigor of adult instruction and the standards for earning a credential; GED-to-college "bridge" programs; and interventions that allow students to enroll in college while simultaneously completing the requirements for a high school degree. LaGuardia Community College has a particularly successful GED bridge program, according to the report.

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