Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 8, 2014

For those parents stressed out about visiting colleges that their children might attend, Magellan Jets is promoting a special service: 10 hours of private jet rental, dropoffs and pick-ups at airports, and a "seamless itinerary" to visit colleges on your child's list. The cost is $43,500. MarketWatch noted an obvious question for those who sign up for the service: "How will your college student get home for Thanksgiving? A packed economy flight, or another private jet?"

 

May 8, 2014

Wesleyan University has announced that it is ending a requirement that applicants submit SAT or ACT scores. A statement from Michael S. Roth, Wesleyan's president, said: “We’re skeptical about the value of the SAT in predicting college success. Scores don’t necessarily add much to student applications; what’s more, we believe they can skew the advantage toward students from privileged backgrounds, or those who can afford test prep.”

May 8, 2014

Davidson College announced Wednesday that it is ending free laundry service -- in which students could drop off dirty laundry and have it returned, clean and folded. The college has offered the service for decades but officials said that it makes more sense to spend the college's resources on academics. The Charlotte Observer reported that Davidson will save about $400,000 annually.

 

May 8, 2014

The cost of borrowing money from the federal government to pay for college will increase in the coming academic year.

Interest rates on most federal student loans are now set to rise following Wednesday’s sale of 10-year Treasury notes, the government debt to which rates are tied.

The interest rate on new loans for undergraduate students will increase to 4.66 percent, up from the current 3.86 percent. The cost of new direct loans for graduate students will jump to 6.21 percent from the current 5.41 percent.

A bipartisan accord struck in Congress last year pegged the interest rates on federal student loans to the government’s borrowing cost. The government now sets student loan interest rates each year based on the last auction of Treasury 10-year notes prior to June 1.

Loans disbursed starting July 1 will reflect the new rates, which are fixed for the term of the loans. The interest rates on existing federal direct loans are not affected by the changes, though some Democrats in Congress this week said they were pushing legislation that would allow borrowers to refinance their existing loans at current rates.

The following are current and future rates for student loans issued by the U.S. government:

 

Current-Year Rate

(2013-2014 AY)

New Rate

(2014-2015 AY)

Undergraduate Direct Loans

(Subsidized & Unsubsidized)

3.86%

4.66%

Graduate Direct Loans

5.41%

6.21%

Direct PLUS Loans

(Grad PLUS & Parent PLUS)

6.41%

7.21%

 

May 8, 2014

Longwood University put on a graduation ceremony for one senior this week, ahead of this month's commencement, so her dying father could see his daughter graduate, WRIC News reported. President W. Taylor Reveley IV and other university officials put on their academic robes and regalia. Brittany Inge, a senior majoring in elementary and middle school education, put on her cap and gown for the ceremony. Her father has stage four lung cancer and has been told he has very limited time. “I could not ask for anything more," Inge said. "I’m forever grateful to all the Longwood staff who made today so special.”

May 8, 2014

Low-income community college students who transfer to highly selective four-year institutions can succeed academically if they receive adequate financial aid, according to an analysis by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation's Community College Transfer Initiative. The foundation has funded transfer support efforts at 14 selective institutions during the past eight years. The analysis found that community college transfer students collectively maintained a 3.0 GPA while enrolled at four-year institutions, became campus leaders and made it to graduation.

May 8, 2014

The online publishing platform Inkling has cut its digital textbook division to focus on enterprise products. Speaking to TechCrunch, CEO Matt MacInnis confirmed the company would lay off about 25 percent of its staff. The company announced it had signed agreements with the publishers McGraw-Hill Education and Wolters Kluwer, which will use the Inkling Habitat platform for digital content.

May 8, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Chris Fee, professor of English at Gettysburg College, asks: What constitutes a living wage? Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

May 8, 2014

The New York Public Library announced Wednesday that it has abandoned plans to move its stacks out of the iconic library building in midtown Manhattan. A statement from the library said that a review of the proposal identified better ways for the library to grow and expand lending libraries in the area. The plan to move the stacks infuriated scholars who view the main research collection of the library as crucial to research in many fields. Here are two columns outlining those concerns, and a response on Inside Higher Ed by the head of the New York Public Library.

 

May 8, 2014

The American Council on Education, the umbrella lobbying organization for colleges and universities, on Wednesday said that allowing college athletes to unionize would produce a litany of bad consequences.

In a letter to Representative John Kline, the Republican who chairs the House education committee, Molly Corbett Broad, the group’s president, took issue with a decision last month by a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board to classify Northwestern University football players as employees.

Broad said that such an issue should be addressed by Congress rather than be decided by an administrative agency. Her letter came as Kline, who has been critical of the NLRB decision, is set to hold a hearing today billed as an inquiry into allowing “big labor on college campuses.”

Broad also made the case against allowing athletes to unionize by citing “a range of negative and troubling consequences” that would flow from such a decision. Athletic scholarships would become taxable income under the Internal Revenue Code, and would therefore potentially cost athletes money, she said. In addition, if college athletes were able to collectively bargain with their colleges, such negotiations would “undermine the collegial, academic culture” on campuses. And, if college athletic unions were successful in increasing the compensation of their members, the reallocation of resources “would jeopardize institutions’ ability to offer other sports and the educational opportunities they provide to male and female athletes who may not receive athletic scholarships,” the letter said.

Proponents of letting college athletes unionize have also been taking their case to Capitol Hill in recent months. The College Athletes Players Association, which represents the Northwestern players, has been holding meetings with lawmakers, seeking to garner support and fend off any legislative attempt to stop their organizing efforts.   

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