Higher Education Quick Takes
Saying that student borrowers have been left out of the "refinancing boom" that has resulted from low interest rates, Campus Progress, a branch of the Center for American Progress called for a federal program allowing refinancing for student loans — including private student loans — at a lower rate. Unsubsidized undergraduate loans, and all graduate loans, currently have a 6.8 percent interest rate. (The interest rate for federally subsidized student loans is set to double to 6.8 percent on July 1.) "Reduced student loan costs boost the likelihood of repayment while also stimulating the economy by freeing up income that can be used and spent in other sectors of the economy," the group wrote.
Students at Oberlin College and residents of Oberlin, Ohio gathered Wednesday to discuss a "no trespass" list maintained by the college, The Plain Dealer reported. Those on the list are effectively banned from campus. Critics focused on problems created because people are not informed that they are on the list, or given a chance to demonstrate that they shouldn't be on the list. An Oberlin security officer attended the meeting, but did not comment on the criticisms.
Changes in Pell Grant eligibility rules likely contributed to enrollment declines last year at two-thirds of the community colleges in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi, according to new research from the University of Alabama's Education Policy Center. The three Southern states all enroll large numbers of students who hail from rural and low-income areas, but also lack large, state-based financial aid programs. That makes students in the region particularly sensitive to last year's tightening of Pell eligibility by the U.S. Congress, according to the report.
A graduate student at the University of Maryland at College Park early Tuesday shot two of his housemates, one fatally, and then killed himself, The Washington Post reported. The two housemates who were shot were undergraduates at College Park. The graduate student, Dayvon M. Green, used a handgun, but had with him an Uzi submachine gun, a machete and a baseball bat. Authorities believe Green set fires in and around the house to lure his housemates out of the house, where they were shot.
Kevin Hadsell, who led the track program at the University of Toledo, resigned last month amid allegations that he sexually harassed a female runner on his team, and that he had a relationship with another member of the team, Deadspin reported. The article features excerpts from texts between Hadsell and the runner, many of them sexual. Hadsell told The Toledo Blade that he did have a relationship with an athlete at the university 10 years ago, but not the one he is accused of having more recently. "The one that I did was 10 years ago," Hadsell said. "The one that I was accused of, I did not do."
Israel's Council for Higher Education on Tuesday backed away from a plan to close the political science department at Ben-Gurion University, Haaretz reported. The council has previously called for the elimination of the department. While officials cited concerns about quality, the university said it had addressed those issues. Many believe that the department was targeted because some of its faculty members are outspoken critics of Israel's government, and the proposal to shut down the program attracted widespread criticism from academics in Israel and elsewhere.
A gas leak at Villanova University on Tuesday left 10 students in a freshman chemistry course ill, and at least one hospitalized, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The first student to become ill thought she was having an asthma attack, but then her nose started to bleed and other student felt nauseous and it was clear that there was a problem in the air.
The latest in a series of papers on redesigning the federal financial aid system calls for doubling the Pell Grant, reconfiguring how the government accounts for student loan default risks and requiring risk-sharing at colleges that receive the majority of revenue from federal funds. The white paper, from the Institute for College Access and Success, is part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Reimagining Aid Design and Delivery project, which asked for ideas on changing federal financial aid to promote college completion.
The report is the first in the series to call for major additional investment in federal financial aid. It would pay for the doubled maximum Pell Grant in part by eliminating tax benefits for higher education. The report also includes less sweeping recommendations, including simplifying the financial aid application process and promoting tools that give students clear information about outcomes.