Higher Education Quick Takes
Congressional negotiators are close to reaching agreement on a $1 trillion budget for the federal government in 2012, with a vote expected by the end of the week. The measure would draw from competing House and Senate budget plans to pay for the Pell Grant Program, enacting changes to both the grant program itself and to subsidized undergraduate student loans.
The six-month grace period on subsidized student loans, in which the government currently pays the interest after a borrower leaves college, would be eliminated, saving about $400 million for the fiscal year. The length of time over which a student can be eligible for a Pell Grant would reportedly also be cut to 12 semesters from the current 18, which would affect about 62,000 students, according to a lobbyist with a higher education association. Students without a high school diploma or equivalent credential will also reportedly be barred from receiving Pell Grants, and the family income at which the government would expect a recipient of federal financial aid to contribute nothing to the cost of his or her education would drop from $30,000 to $20,000 per year.
Senate Democrats had proposed the change to the interest rate subsidy; the other cuts were drawn from a House Republican budget plan. But other proposed cuts in the House plan would not be enacted, including a proposed change to the income protection allowance that the American Council on Education estimated could affect up to 400,000 students.
Full details on the final bill are expected today.
Three members of the marching band at Florida A&M University were arrested Monday and charged in the beating of a woman as part of a hazing ritual for the band, the Associated Press reported. The beating -- with fists and a metal ruler -- broke the woman's thigh. The alleged incident took place three weeks before a member of the band died in what authorities believe was a hazing-related death. As of Monday night, the three students who were arrested were in jail.
A panel of Division I college presidents has recommended that the National Collegiate Athletic Association cut the number of football scholarships in the top competitive level to 80 from 85, restrict the number of non-coaching staff members in some sports, and bar foreign tours by teams during the summer months, all to save money. The recommendations of the Resource Allocation Working Group, one of several panels appointed by President Mark Emmert to consider significant changes in NCAA rules, are to be voted on by the Division I Board of Directors at next month's NCAA convention. The panel is also proposing that the number of scholarships awarded at any time in Division I women's basketball be reduced to 13 from 15, and that the number of grants awarded by Football Championship Series teams drop to 60 from the current 63.
Robert Berdahl was named Friday to serve as interim president of the University of Oregon, following the ouster of Richard Lariviere, who clashed with the State Board of Higher Education. Lariviere's tenure in office will end this month. Berdahl has held several prominent positions in higher education, having served as president of the Association of American Universities, chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley, and president of the University of Texas. He also has strong ties to the University of Oregon, having served there earlier in his career as a history professor and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Berdahl has criticized the ouster of Lariviere -- and has backed the soon-to-be-former president's call for more autonomy for flagship universities that are part of state systems.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, the secretary of state, on Saturday kicked off a new effort to help women in Muslim nations study science at women's colleges in the United States. Through the program, the New York Academy of Sciences will provide the women with mentors, and participating women's colleges will provide financial assistance. "Today’s next Madame Curie could be sitting in a high school classroom in Cairo, Jakarta, or Mogadishu, yearning for opportunities to explore her potential. The United States is determined to help give her that chance," said Clinton, in announcing the new effort.
Paul Greenfield is resigning in January as vice chancellor (the presidential equivalent) at the University of Queensland amid an admissions scandal at the Australian university, The Australian reported. Details remain vague, but someone described as a "close relative" of Greenfield was admitted to a medical program under an admissions procedure that should not have applied to the student.
The University of Cincinnati and Xavier University each suspended multiple men's basketball players Sunday in the wake of a wild brawl Saturday that left some participants -- and their sport -- with a black eye. The annual game between the two Cincinnati-based rivals (known as the Crosstown Shootout) ended prematurely because of the fight, in which players threw and landed brutal punches. Players and coaches also drew criticism for post-game comments in which some of them appeared to justify their actions. "We're grown men over here," a Xavier player, Tu Holloway, said in a post-game interview with reporters. "We got a whole bunch of gangsters in the locker room. Not thugs, but tough guys on the court."
The successful lobbying campaign by for-profit higher education to scale back the Obama administration's "gainful employment" regulations is no secret, but an article Saturday in The New York Times provided an in-depth look at the effort:
- For-profit colleges and associations spent more than $16 million on lobbying, with much of the money going to Democrats with ties to the White House.
- The biggest spender in the lobbying effort was The Washington Post Company, owner of Kaplan University ($1.71 million), followed by the Coalition for Educational Success ($1.65 million), Career Education Corporation ($1.60 million), the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities ($1.45 million), and the Apollo Group ($1.43 million).