A group of faculty members and other educators across a variety of institutions are calling on financial services organization TIAA-CREF, which oversees pension plans for 3.7 million individuals, including many higher education faculty members, to divest from companies that manufacture the types of rifles used in the shooting last week in Newton, Conn., and the shooting in Aurora, Colo., in July. TIAA-CREF invests in the two companies, Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Co., as part of indexed investment strategies designed to replicate performance of market indexes. The push comes on the heels of the announcement by private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management that it would sell its stake in another weapons manufacturer. A spokesman for TIAA-CREF declined to comment on the group's request.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, a national accrediting agency, has dropped an inquiry into 10 campuses owned by Career Education Corp., the for-profit higher education provider announced Tuesday. The accreditor had asked the company to "show cause" why the campuses should not have their accreditation withdrawn in the wake of Career Education's earlier acknowledgment that it lacked sufficient documentation for some job placement data. The campuses are now free to pursue new academic program approvals.
Representative Tom Petri, a Wisconsin Republican, introduced a bill in Congress on Monday that would restructure federal student loans, making all repayment income-based and withholding payments directly from borrower's paychecks through the Internal Revenue Service. The loans would be unsubsidized. Petri, who was an early supporter of direct lending, has proposed such a program before with little result; his latest bill, H.R. 6674, has no cosponsors.
Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said he supported the bill, arguing it could "nearly eliminate student loan default." A similar system is used in Australia and has occasionally been mentioned as a model for the United States as concern about student debt has grown.
The average salary of assistant football coaches at colleges with big-time athletic programs is now $200,000, according to an analysis by USA Today. (By comparison, the average salary of a full professor at a public doctoral institution is $121,000.) Two of the assistant coaches are earning more than $1 million, and several universities are spending in the seven figures for the assistant coaches as group. Clemson University's assistant coaches earn more than $4.2 million, while Louisiana State University's assistant football coaches earn more than $4 million.
The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association has released new data on the wage premiums received by those who are college graduates. The data show a consistent economic advantage for those with a higher education. However, there is variation on the extent of the wage premium when the data are analyzed by field of study, and by state.
Twenty-two members of a fraternity at Northern Illinois University have been charged with violating hazing laws in the death of a freshman, The Chicago Tribune reported. The freshman died after participating in an event in which he went from room to room in the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, and answered questions in each room, and was then given vodka and other liquor.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Monday released the procedures the agency will use to scrutinize lenders of private student loans, as well as the servicers for federally guaranteed loans, to ensure that they are complying with existing banking regulations. Such "examinations," intended to uncover and, if necessary, penalize companies that violate consumer protection laws, have led to heavy fines for credit card companies, and the agency is also examining mortgage lenders and big banks. libby -- here or somewhere, can you add some language along the lines of what we discussed? "While the guidance published Monday does not give the agency any new powers, it clears the way for it to begin what is expected to be more aggressive pursuit of private lenders and servicers." or something like that? dl
The bureau will look into whether private lenders and servicers comply with a range of federal lending laws, including the Truth in Lending Act, which went into effect in 2009 and required additional disclosures for private student loans, as well as lenders' marketing and underwriting standards. The procedures mention servicing issues for borrowers trying to enroll in federal programs that allow borrowers to make income-based repayments, as well as laws governing lending to active-duty members of the military.
The bureau has focused on student loans (as well as mortgages, credit cards and other financial instruments) since it opened in summer 2011. In July, the bureau issued a sweeping report on private student loans that recommended Congress investigate restoring bankruptcy privileges for those loans. In October, the bureau's student loan ombudsman issued his own report on issues facing student borrowers.
The board that governs Florida's public universities -- charged by the Legislature with weighing the state's options for expanding access through the use of online education -- weighed in on a consultant's report that suggested a range of possibilities, and kept open the prospect of creating a freestanding 13th university that would operate only online. At a meeting Monday, a strategic planning committee of the Florida Board of Governors heard a report from the Parthenon Group that suggested four possibilities, ranging from retaining the status quo (in which institutions would continue to provide their own offerings independently) to creating a separate institution. The Miami Herald reported that the board seemed to largely reject the status quo, and did not reject the idea of creating a new institution, despite opposition from the provosts of existing universities, who in a letter expressed concerns about dilution of resources and competition.
The idea that got the most support during the board's discussion, according to the Herald, was a hybrid of the consultant's other two recommendations, involving more systemwide collaboration or allowing one or more existing institutions to take the lead on creating new programs.