Confused By Your College Financial Aid Letter? You’re Not Alone

This time last year, McKenna Hensley had a big question on her mind: Where would she go to college? The answer — sort of — was somewhere in her pile of 10 financial aid offers. Each school she’d been admitted to had its own individualized letter, terms and calculations.

“It was very confusing,” the now college freshman remembers.

One letter sticks out in her mind: The school had bolded about $76,000 in the upper-right corner of its offer. She remembers smiling really big and thinking, “I got a lot of money!” But when she looked a little closer, she saw that the big number included loans. Hensley was determined not to borrow. She took the letter and added up all the costs of attending, then subtracted the grants and scholarships and found she was still about $30,000 short.

Full story at npr.org

13 Parents, 1 Coach to Plead Guilty in College Admissions Scandal

THIRTEEN PARENTS AND A former college tennis coach have agreed to plead guilty for their part in the college admissions cheating scandal that rocked higher education last month, federal authorities said Monday.

The group includes “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman, whom authorities say paid a consultant to increase her daughter’s SAT score.

The parents each agreed to plead guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest-services mail fraud, according to reports.

Several dozen people, including more than 30 parents, were charged in what is the largest college admissions scandal ever prosecuted by federal authorities. Prosecutors say that some wealthy parents paid a consultant, Rick Singer, to rig their children’s standardized test scores while others bribed athletic coaches in a bid to guarantee their children spots at prestigious schools.

Full story at US News

Secretary DeVos Applauds Consensus on Higher Education Reforms

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos welcomed news today that the committee debating her proposed “Accreditation and Innovation” higher education reforms reached consensus on the text of the draft rules. The package of higher education regulations is aimed at rethinking higher education to improve outcomes and accountability for students, institutions and taxpayers. The draft regulations, which will next be published for public comment, come after months of negotiated rulemaking that engaged a wide variety of higher education stakeholders.

“Today’s historic action proves just how much can be accomplished on behalf of students when we put their needs above all else,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “Rethinking higher education required each person at the negotiating table to challenge assumptions and examine past practice in order to better serve students. I commend them for doing just that.

“The committee recognized that higher education has changed in many ways since the last reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, including in the use of innovative technologies. These changes will allow students to work at their own pace to earn a college degree, obtain credit for proving what they already know and earn a credential aligned with employers’ job requirements.  The new policies and procedures will also work against unnecessary credential inflation that drives up cost and reduces the opportunity for low-income students to prepare for certain jobs.

Full story at ed.gov

Study: Public Universities Prioritize Out-of-State, Wealthy, White Students

SOME PUBLIC universities disproportionately direct their recruiting efforts on out-of-state students from affluent, white communities and private schools, a new study shows, adding fuel to an increasingly fiery debate about inequity within higher education that colleges and universities have been trying to sidestep for years.

“In contrast to rhetoric from university leaders, our findings suggest strong socioeconomic and racial biases in the enrollment priorities of many public research universities,” researchers wrote.

“A small number of universities exhibit recruiting patterns broadly consistent with the historical mission of social mobility for meritorious state residents,” they said. “However, most universities concentrated recruiting visits in wealthy, out-of-state communities while also privileging affluent schools in in-state visits.”

Full story at US News

Secretary DeVos Issues Statement on President Trump’s Higher Education Executive Order

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released the following statement today on President Trump’s Executive Order on “Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities”:

“All students should have access to relevant, accurate, and transparent data when making decisions about their education. President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order on ‘Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities’ once again demonstrates this Administration’s commitment to supporting and empowering students with meaningful resources as they pursue their life-long learning journeys and future careers.

“Per the Executive Order, the Department will continue its efforts to update the College Scorecard so that it includes clear information on the cost of college, expected earnings after graduation, and student loan repayment rates. We will also continue our Federal Student Aid modernization efforts that began with the launch of our first ever mobile app.  Right now, students can use the app to complete the FAFSA. And, building on the President’s directive, the app’s capabilities will expand to give students access to information about loan balances, payments, and repayment options right at their fingertips. We believe that these important reforms, along with the Department’s ambitious negotiated rule making agenda, will make college more affordable, break down barriers to innovation in higher education, and encourage new approaches and new partnerships for the benefit of students.

Full story at ed.gov

What To Know About Affirmative Action As The Harvard Trial Begins

Does Harvard University discriminate against Asian-Americans in its admissions process?

That’s the question on trial in a Boston federal courtroom this week. At issue is whether Harvard unfairly discriminated against an Asian-American applicant who says the Ivy League school held him to higher standards than applicants of other races. This trial will also dissect a contentious political issue in higher education: affirmative action.

But what exactly is affirmative action, and how did it become such a controversial issue?

Today in U.S. higher education, affirmative action refers to policies that give students from underrepresented racial groups an advantage in the college admissions process, said Mark Naison, an African-American studies professor who teaches about affirmative action at Fordham University. But that wasn’t the original definition when it was introduced by President John Kennedy in the 1960s.

Full story at npr.org

California’s Higher Ed Diversity Problem

In 1996, right after voters in California banned affirmative action in employment and college admissions, minority student enrollment at two and four-year institutions plummeted. What has happened since though, is pretty remarkable.

Of the 2.8 million students attending college in California today, two out of three come from racially and ethnically diverse populations. The most eye-popping increase in enrollment has been among Latinos.

They now make up 43 percent of all college students in California. Twenty-six percent are white, followed by Asian and Pacific Islanders at 16 percent and African Americans at 6 percent.

Full story at npr.org

#MeToo Goes to School

When Hollywood’s glitterati walked the red carpet for the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday evening, it was the #MeToo movement that took center stage, not the directors, actors or actresses there to fête and be fêted – many of whom donned black clothing to draw attention to reports of sexual harassment that have rocked Tinsel Town, sent politicians packing and exposed chronic abuses in higher education, finance and other societal spheres.

One area that’s remained insulated, however, is K-12 education. Yet that’s not because instances of sexual harassment, abuse, misconduct and assault aren’t happening to students in elementary, middle and high school.

In fact, nearly half of students in grades seven to 12 – and more than half of girls overall at that level – reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment in the 2010-2011 school year, according to research from the American Association of University Women.

Full story at US News

Why One Educator Says It’s Time To Rethink Higher Education

“What would it mean to redesign higher education for the intellectual space travel students need to thrive in the world we live in now?”

That is one of the provocative questions that opens Cathy Davidson’s latest book, The New Education. And unlike some of the journalists and business figures who have taken previous swings at that piñata, Davidson has a full career of research and practice to inform her abundance of answers.

Davidson spent more than two decades as a professor at Duke University. She taught English and humanities, but with the advent of the Internet, she saw the need for a new kind of interdisciplinary and student-centered learning. She opened up her classrooms, beginning in simple ways, trying to get more people to participate and collaborate — while lecturing less. She has even been known to interrupt her own keynote addresses to get people in the audience talking to one another.

Full story at NPR.org

Greater access to higher education could have reversed EU referendum result

Greater access to Higher Education could have reversed the result of the 2016 EU referendum, according to new research from the University of Leicester.

The paper, published in the journal World Development, suggests that access to Higher Education was the ‘predominant factor’ dividing those who voted Remain and those who voted Leave.

The research also suggests that greater access to higher and further education can produce different political outcomes — which has been demonstrated in the 2017 General Election, where it can be argued that voting populations with a higher education had a decisive effect on the result.

Full story at Science Daily