The average student loan debt of the two-thirds of seniors who graduated from college with federal debt in 2010 rose to $25,250, up 5 percent from the previous year, according to a report released today by the Project on Student Debt. The nonprofit group's report shows the debt levels by state and singles out institutions whose students accumulated particularly large and small amounts of debt.
Higher Education Quick Takes
WASHINGTON -- An official with the U.S. Department of Labor Wednesday urged community college leaders to steer students to an online career tool the department created earlier this year. Speaking at a policy briefing hosted by Jobs for the Future, Gerri Fiala, the department's deputy assistant secretary of employment and training administration, said the site, dubbed "My Next Move," is particularly helpful for students as they explore potential careers. The briefing was on how nonprofit organizations, high schools and community colleges can help students who drop out of high school get back on track for college. Fiala and other federal policy makers who spoke at the event stressed the need for collaboration between two-year colleges and student employers.
The Wisconsin Assembly voted Wednesday to end consideration of race in a state grant program for disadvantaged students attending colleges in the state, The Capital Times reported. The program is for nontraditional students, with eligibility determined by such factors as having a disability, being a first-generation college student, or being black, Native American, Latino or Hmong. The program's authorization was amended in the Assembly to remove minority group membership as part of the criteria. While it is not clear that there is a speedy path for the bill to be enacted, the vote stunned and angered supporters of efforts to recruit more minority students.
University of Charleston President Ed Welch announced Wednesday that the university would be cutting tuition for next year's incoming freshman and transfer students by 22 percent, from $25,000 to $19,500. On top of that, the university is guaranteeing at least $5,500 in aid for all returning students, so that no student pays more than $19,500. In a video about the announcement, Welch said the change was made to get away from the high-tuition, high-aid model of financing education there. Several presidents in recent years have started questioning whether such a model is sustainable. The announcement comes on the heels of a similar move by the University of the South, which announced in February that it was cutting its $49,000 tuition about 10 percent for this fall.
An Ivy Tech Community College faculty member died Wednesday after falling from a tower where he was teaching students wind turbine technology, The Courier and Journal reported. Classes were canceled for the rest of the day. The cause of the fall has yet to be determined.
A petition calling on Congress to protect Pell Grants, student loans and other financial aid programs from budget cuts has gathered more than 37,000 signatures and will soon be delivered to members of the "super committee," the bipartisan panel charged with cutting $1 trillion from the nation's budget by the end of this month, as well as other Congressional representatives. The "Statement of Support" from the Student Aid Alliance, a group of 74 higher education associations that lobby to protect financial aid programs, was launched Oct. 25. Signers include students, faculty and administrators from all sectors.
"Recent budget deals have already cut $30 billion from the student aid programs, sacrificing some students’ benefits to pay for others. States across the country are cutting higher education from their own budgets," the statement reads in part. "That’s why it’s more important than ever to preserve, protect and provide adequate funding for the core federal student aid programs — such as Pell Grants and student loan benefits. Together, these programs offer students an opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills our nation demands for a strong recovery."
Career Education Corp. announced Tuesday that its CEO would resign after an outside investigation found "improper" practices in the company's determination of job placement rates. The company's third quarter report to the Securities and Exchange Commission said that the review by an outside law firm had found that some of Career Education's health education and art and design schools did not have sufficient documentation to back up job placements, and that 13 of its 49 schools in those fields had failed to meet the placement rate requirements of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. While a news release did not specifically say so, it appeared that those developments had prompted the resignation of Gary E. McCullough as president and chief executive.
The full-time faculty union at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale declared a strike shortly after midnight, citing the lack of progress in negotiations over a new contract with the administration. The union, affiliated with the National Education Association, cited numerous disagreement over such issues as salaries and furloughs. Union leaders said that they understood the tough economic times facing the state, and had proposed many compromises on various issues of contention. Several other campus unions have also been in negotiations with the administration about their contracts. Unions announced last night that graduate student assistants had reached a tentative agreement, but that as of early this morning, non-tenure-track faculty members have not reached any agreement over their contract. University officials have said that they hope to offer classes on schedule in the event of a strike.
Clatsop Community College, in Oregon, announced that 15 of the 39 full-time faculty members will lose their jobs after the spring term, The Daily Astorian reported. The college will lose about $1 million in state funds that it expected this year, and college leaders say the layoffs will save more than $300,000, closing the institution's deficit gap.
American Commercial College's campuses in Lubbock and Abilene called off classes Wednesday as federal agents raided facilities, gathering evidence in a probe of allegations that the for-profit Texas institution incorrectly reports student employment levels, changes grades and falsifies student eligibility forms, The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported. College officials at the campuses that suspended operations did not respond to calls, but the head of a campus in Odessa said that branch was operating normally. Students told KCBD News that they felt deceived by the college, and some questioned whether officials had taken more loan funds from them than was appropriate. The college did not respond to those allegations.