Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 19, 2012

A federal judge on Thursday allowed the U.S. Justice Department to intervene and to expand a suit against the Law School Admission Council, charging that it discriminates against people with disabilities who take the Law School Admission Test. The suit, which is now national in scope, charges that "routine denial" of accommodation requests constitutes discrimination against people with disabilities. Further, the Justice Department says that the council's policies on "flagging" test scores obtained by students who do receive accommodations is unfair to those prospective law students. The council has denied wrongdoing.

 

October 19, 2012

Many members of the military with student loans are missing out on important benefits, in part because loan servicers aren't giving them accurate information, according to a report released Thursday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau dealing with how student debt is handled for active-duty members of the military. Those in service are eligible both for benefits available to all Americans with federal loans, such as income-based student loan repayment, as well as some benefits available just to them, like military deferments, post-active duty deferments and an interest rate cap while on active duty. 

The report found that loan servicing errors lead to unnecessary hurdles and, in some cases, deferments and forbearances. Some members of the military were denied the 6 percent interest rate cap on both federal and private loans. Others were put into forbearance they did not request, meaning that interest continued to capitalize. In some cases, these errors could cost members of the military tens of thousands of dollars, according to the report, which marked the bureau's first steps into identifying problems with federal student loans as well as private loans.

The bureau urged loan servicers to give members of the military complete and accurate information, and regulators and enforcement agencies to hold servicers accountable. "Servicemembers who are concerned about financial problems and who must struggle to get complete information or assistance from their lenders will have difficulty focusing on their mission and accomplishing their critical national security role," the authors, the student loan ombudsman Rohit Chopra and Hollister Petraeus, assistant director of the bureau's office of servicemember affairs, wrote.

October 19, 2012

Franklin & Marshall College has announced that it will cap the loans in the aid packages of students from middle income families at $10,000. Those whose packages would have included greater loan volume will instead receive additional grants. College officials said that they wanted to see if this increased assistance would encourage more students from middle income families to enroll.

 

October 19, 2012

Dinesh D'Souza, president of the King's College, a Christian college in New York City, has resigned after reports that he shared a hotel room with a woman to whom he was not married before filing for divorce from his wife. In a statement posted on the college's website Thursday, the president of the Board of Trustees said that D'Souza had resigned, effective immediately, to "allow him to attend to his personal and family needs."

D'Souza, an author and filmmaker who recently released an anti-Obama documentary, "2016: Obama's America," responded with a column on the Fox News website to an article in the evangelical World magazine that said he shared a hotel room with the woman he introduced as his "fiancée." He was not having an affair, he said. "I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced, even though in a state of separation and in divorce proceedings," D'Souza wrote. "Obviously I would not have introduced Denise as my fiancée at a Christian apologetics conference if I had thought or known I was doing something wrong."

He attributed the story to previous rivalries at the King's College: its former provost, Marvin Olasky, is now editor of World, and resigned shortly after D'Souza, a Roman Catholic, was hired as president of the evangelical college in 2010.

October 19, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Sharon Kim of Johns Hopkins University explains the psychological response that often turns social outsiders into successful entrepreneurs. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

October 19, 2012

One-third of faculty use some form of social media as part of their teaching, according to a survey to be released today by Pearson and the Babson Survey Research Group. However, they tend not to do so regularly. Even the most popular form of social media for teaching -- blogs and wikis -- were used more than once per month by fewer than 10 percent of professors in the survey.

Video, meanwhile, has become an extremely popular teaching tool. Nearly 90 percent of faculty members in the survey said they use video for teaching. Use of video was fairly consistent across disciplines except for mathematics and computer science, where only 66 percent of professors reported using video to help teach -- an outlier that might come as a surprise to fans of Khan Academy and the major MOOC providers, all of whom rely heavily on video as a medium for teaching math and computer science concepts. Pearson and the Babson Survey Research Group have conducted versions of the survey since 2010.

October 19, 2012

Barbara Mink is the new director of the community college leadership program at the University of Texas at Austin, the university announced this week. Mink, a clinical professor at the university, takes over for John E. Roueche, the program's founder, who stepped down this year after helping train scores of community college presidents during his 41 years at the helm. Earlier this year Roueche announced that he was starting a similar program at National American University, a for-profit. His departure led to speculation about the future of the leadership program and its affiliates, the Center for Community College Student Engagement and the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development.

October 19, 2012

Morehouse College will furlough faculty and staff and make budget cuts after an enrollment decline it says is attributable in part to increased denial rates on parent PLUS loans, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Thursday. Loan denials went up this year after a change to underwriting standards cast a wider net for poor credit history, and the effects have been felt most acutely at historically black colleges. The Education Department says 95 percent of PLUS applicants at historically black colleges go on to finance their education in other ways, but Morehouse administrators told the newspaper that 125 students fewer than expected enrolled this year and it believes the new loan rules are at least partially to blame.

October 18, 2012

Wilson College, a women's institution in Pennsylvania, is considering the strategy of becoming coeducational, The Chambersburg Public Opinion reported. At a campus forum Wednesday, officials said that no final decision has been made, but that they would like to see enrollment increase from the current level (695) to 1,500. Several alumnae at the meeting spoke -- to applause -- of the value of keeping Wilson a women's college.

 

October 18, 2012

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Educause on Wednesday announced grants to a set of colleges and schools positioned to create or expand "breakthrough" models of college readiness and completion. The latest round of Next Generation Learning Grants, valued at $5.4 million, will go to the following higher education projects:

  • Kentucky Community and Technical College System, $1,000,000, for a competency-based associate degree program. (This was profiled on Inside Higher Ed in August.)
  • Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, $1,000,000, for a partnership with Columbus State University to develop an online bachelor's degree with a strong service-learning component.
  • Altius Education, $300,000, to create “America’s Transfer College,” building on its Ivy Bridge College.
  • Ameritas College Educational Services, $250,000, to support the development by Brandman University and University Ventures Fund of bachelor's programs aimed at Hispanic adults.
  • University of Washington, $884,000, for an online undergraduate degree-completion program using MOOCs, using Coursera classes.
  • Rio Salado College, $970,000, for “All Roads Lead to Student Success,” to help students in early college programs, educational service partnerships, and those seeking to obtain credit for prior learning.

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