Angel Taveras, the mayor of Providence, R.I., said last week that the city would go bankrupt unless it achieves certain savings and also obtains new revenue -- with much of the extra money coming from Brown University, the Associated Press reported. Taveras said that the university needs to commit to $40 million in additional payments over the next 10 years. That would be on top of the $4 million a year Brown already pays to reflect its use of city services because university property is tax-exempt. A university spokeswoman said that a panel of Brown board members has proposed that the university provide an additional $2 million a year over the next five years. The spokeswoman said that "we regret that the mayor rejected this offer and hope that we can continue our discussions and reach an equitable and sustainable solution."
Higher Education Quick Takes
Kiplinger's has dropped Claremont McKenna College from the magazine's list of the "Best Values in Liberal Arts Colleges," where the college had been No. 18. A statement by the magazine said that recent reports about the college inflating its SAT averages suggested that it had earned its spot "unfairly," and so has been removed. U.S. News & World Report has said that it will calculate the likely impact of the false reporting on the college's rank, but will not issue new rankings.
Sallie Mae said Thursday that it will still charge a quarterly $50 fee to student loan borrowers in forbearance, but that the charges will be applied to the borrowers' accounts once they "resume a track record of on-time payments," a spokeswoman said. The lender charges the fee when private student loans have gone into forbearance, continuing to accumulate capitalized interest although borrowers do not have to make payments. An online petition criticizing the fee as an "unemployment tax" had accumulated 77,000 signatures as of Thursday, building pressure on Sallie Mae to alter its policy.
In an e-mail message, Martha Holler, senior vice president for corporate marketing and communications, said that after "giving it careful consideration for some time," Sallie Mae will apply the "good-faith payment to the customers’ balance after they resume a track record of on-time payments," retroactive to forbearances granted as of Jan. 1. The former student who started the petition, Stef Gray, said in a statement of her own that the change did not go far enough. "At the end of the day, Sallie Mae is still asking unemployed college grads to fork over money they don’t have," she said. "Sallie Mae needs to drop this unfair fee for good.”
The University of Phoenix on Thursday released its fourth annual academic scorecard, a self-assessment that has drawn both praise for being a rare voluntary disclosure about academic performance in the for-profit industry and criticism for painting a somewhat overly flattering picture. The fourth installment showed largely minor changes. Graduation rates for associate and graduate degree programs were up slightly, while those for bachelor's were down -- a change Phoenix officials attributed to an increase in transfer students arriving with zero credits. Senior students at Phoenix slightly underperformed academically compared with seniors at other institutions. But the university found high levels of student satisfaction, and an increase in first-course completion rates for students who went through the university's orientation, a free, three-week program.
The University of Akron announced Thursday that it has hired Jim Tressel for a newly created administrative job raising money and building support for student programs. Tressel, who got a master's in education from Akron and taught and coached there in the late 1970s, resigned last spring as Ohio State University's head football coach amid revelations that he had known about, but failed to act on, allegations of rule breaking by his players there. The National Collegiate Athletic Association punished Ohio State for those violations in December and placed severe restrictions on the coaching and other activities in which Tressel could engage at any institution that hired him.
Akron's president, Luis Proenza, told reporters that he had no reservations about hiring the university's alumnus to work with its students, alumni and community. "Look at the man. Look at what he has done," Proenza said. "Look at the thousands of lives he has impacted. We knew that was the asset." Akron also got a bargain given what Tressel is used to earning. The $200,000 salary Akron will pay him if the trustees approve his hiring is a good $3 million less than he earned as coach at Ohio State.
A new national panel aims to address the growing economic and racial divide between two- and four-year colleges. The uneconomically named Task Force on Preventing Community Colleges from Becoming Separate and Unequal, convened by the Century Foundation and funded by the Ford Foundation, seeks to strengthen community colleges so that they do not become a refuge for low-income and academically underprepared students alone, because doing so will be their undoing, say the panel's leaders. “While two-year institutions must always provide access to low-income and working-class students, community colleges need to find ways to recruit middle-class students as well, or the political and financial support for the two-year sector will continue to decline,” Eduardo J. Padrón, president of Miami Dade College and a co-chair of the panel, said in a news release. The other co-chair of the panel, which will hold its first meeting on Feb. 17, is Anthony Marx, president of the New York Public Library and former president of Amherst College. A list of the panel's members can be found here.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association put the University of Nebraska at Lincoln on two years’ probation for major rules violations, including failure to monitor, one of the harshest penalties an institution can face. Over a five-year period, the university provided nearly 500 athletes in all 19 sports with impermissible benefits in the form of scholarships covering books and supplies, the value of which exceeded NCAA financial aid limits by a total of $28,000. The university discovered and reported the violations itself, and worked cooperatively with the NCAA to submit the case facts in written form and avoid a formal hearing. It also self-imposed a $38,000 fine, sic 38k, not 28k? dl *** yes -ag which was donated to local charities. According to the association’s public infractions report, financial aid packages may only cover required textbooks and course supplies, not recommended ones. The excessive aid caused the inadvertent violations themselves, but the failure to monitor is a result of the length of time and number of athletes involved. The NCAA is also subjecting the university to public reprimand and censure.
A petition asking Sallie Mae to revoke the $50 quarterly "forbearance fee" that the lender imposes on borrowers who are unable to repay their student loans has gathered more than 75,000 signatures. Forbearance, when loans continue to accumulate capitalized interest although borrowers do not have to make payments, is the last resort to avoid default, and the petition protests the $50 fee as an "unemployment tax."
"As an unemployed person desperately looking for work, I need every extra dollar I have to pay for rent, electricity and groceries," wrote Stef Gray on the petition. "But Sallie Mae is preying on people like me and cashing in on the fact that we need more time to find work before we can repay our student loans."
Such fees are not uncommon on private loans, and Sallie Mae has defended them as a way to ensure that the borrower is committed to continuing to pay.
Class-action lawsuits have been filed against 12 more law schools over employment data, with 51 of their graduates accusing the schools of misrepresenting how many graduates would be able to find high-paying law jobs after earning a degree. The 12 schools -- Brooklyn Law School, California Western School of Law, Southwestern Law School, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, John Marshall Law School, Florida Coastal School of Law, and the law schools at DePaul University, Golden Gate University, Hofstra University, Union University, the University of San Francisco and Widener University -- join three that have already been sued in a similar class action.