Category Archives: Higher Education

Alexander’s Loan-Repayment Overhaul

Source: Andrew Kreighbaum, Inside Higher Ed, February 19, 2019

Proposal to automatically deduct loan payments as a share of borrowers’ paychecks promises big improvements but raises questions over some new complications, too.

Student advocates have for years complained about the complex set of options borrowers must navigate to repay their student loans. Student loan borrowers are faced with a dizzying nine repayment plans based on their income, in addition to a standard 10-year loan-repayment plan.

There’s a growing consensus that Congress should reduce those options to one income-based option on top of the standard plan.

Senator Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Senate education committee, would go one step further, calling for loan payments to be automatically deducted from borrowers’ paychecks. ….

…. While the proposal to reduce the myriad repayment options for borrowers already has broad support among higher ed interest groups, getting buy-in for making student loan payments work more like payroll taxes is more uncertain.

Jessica Thompson, director of policy and planning at the Institute for College Access and Success, said streamlining the repayment plans available to borrowers is “an overdue change.” But she said paycheck withholding for loan payments is “in reality a lot more complicated than it sounds.” ….

Emerging Iterations on State Free College Policy in the 2019 Legislative Sessions

Source: Sarah Pingel, Education Commission of the States, January 31, 2019

State legislatures are officially in full swing, with 44 states plus the District of Columbia in session. At Education Commission of the States, we’re cleaning our glasses and diving into the thousands of pieces of education-related legislation spilling into our inboxes. Not surprisingly, free college maintains its position on state legislators’ minds. We are already tracking 45 pieces of legislation in 19 states plus the District of Columbia…..

Higher education – US: Stronger state financial support benefits public universities

Source: Dan Fiori, Mary Kay Cooney, Susan I Fitzgerald, Moody’s, Sector Comment, February 7, 2019
(subscription required)

State funding for public colleges and universities is up in 43 states for fiscal year 2019 compared to increases in 32 states the previous year, according to the annual Grapevine report from Illinois State University’s Center for the Study of Education Policy. Additionally, state financial support in all 50 states increased by a median of 2.8% in fiscal 2019, more than double the 1.1% in the year before and the highest level since fiscal 2016. The increases are credit positive for the higher education sector, which is battling slower tuition revenue growth and rising expenses — both contributing factors to our negative outlook for the sector.

Related:
States Increase Higher Education Funding By 3.7%
Source: Michael T. Nietzel, Forbes, February 5, 2019

The 50 states appropriated a total of $91.5 billion to support their public universities and financial aid programs in Fiscal Year 2018-19. That’s a 3.7% increase over 2017-18 and an 18.2% increase over Fiscal Year 2013-14, according to Grapevine, the annual report of state higher education spending published by Illinois State University’s Center for the Study of Education Policy in cooperation with the State Higher Education Executive Officers…..

How Colleges Spend Money

Source: American Council of Trustees and Alumni, 2019

Two out of three college students now graduate with an average of over $28,000 in student debt, and the price of tuition continues to rise at an unsustainable rate, faster even than health care. So how do colleges spend that money?

Built specifically for college trustees, policymakers, and other higher education decision-makers, this site is designed to equip the people who oversee colleges and universities with the tools to perform their own analysis of higher education spending trends, and create benchmarks in comparison with other institutions.

Local government and higher education – US: Overview of state aid intercept programs

Source: Susanne Siebel, Dan Seymour, Orlie Prince, Leonard Jones, Alexandra S. Parker, Moody’s, Sector Profile, February 1, 2019
(subscription required)

State aid intercept programs require a state to divert funding, originally intended for operations, to bondholders for debt service when a local government or higher education institution is unable to make the payment. With that bondholder protection, programs help entities access the capital markets. While all programs share the same goal, they vary widely in structure, timing and state commitment….

Not-for-profit healthcare and higher education – US – New accounting standard for operating leases is credit neutral

Source: Rita Sverdlik, Lisa Martin, Lisa Goldstein, Diane F. Viacava, Susan I Fitzgerald, Kendra M. Smith, Moody’s, Sector Comment, January 23, 2019
(subscription required)

New guidance from the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) related to operating leases took effect January 1. Under the new standard, issuers will include the net present value (NPV) of operating leases on the balance sheet. This change does not affect issuers’ credit quality because our assessments already consider operating leases in a manner similar to the new FASB standard. However, in a few limited circumstances, the accounting change will affect issuers’ compliance with financial covenants in bond and bank agreements and temporarily elevate credit risk.

The 401(k) Student Loan Repayment Benefit Program

Source: John G. Kilgour, Compensation & Benefits Review, OnlineFirst, Published January 7, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In recent years, student loan repayment programs have emerged as the hot new employee benefit. However, their growth has been restricted by their lack of favored tax status. On August 17, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service issued a private letter ruling approving a proposal to create such a program within a 401(k) plan. In a deft piece of reasoning, the private letter ruling provides relief from the so-called “contingent benefit prohibition.” This article examines student loan borrowing, the private letter ruling and its likely consequences and limitations.

Posts of Professors Holding Babies in Class Often Go Viral. Is That the Reality of Students With Kids?

Source: Cailin Crowe, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 19, 2018

…. The University of Tennessee at Knoxville and Columbia College, in South Carolina, saw similar stories. In each case the professor was praised for selflessly offering to watch a student’s baby in lieu of professional child care. While the professor’s generosity was commendable, the posts also highlighted the unmet demand for child care on campuses.

The posts go viral because they illustrate a systemic problem, said Barbara Gault, vice president and executive director of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. People understand that colleges and universities don’t always recognize the caregiving responsibilities of students who are also parents. “It’s a statement about something bigger,” she said.

More than 25 percent of college students are parents of dependent children, according to the institute. However, the idea that colleges and universities should provide child care is still a fairly new concept, Gault said. ….

…. One obvious solution is on-campus day-care centers. For example, at Monroe Community College, in New York, student parents of young children at the campus’s day-care center have on-time graduation rates three times as high as student parents who did not use the center.

But on many campuses, including the institutions where some of those feel-good viral stories have taken place, the reality for students who have kids in need of child care is much different. ….

Social Exclusion: The State of State U for Black Students

Source: Mark Huelsman, Dēmos, December 2018

From the Introduction and Selected Findings:
….These stories, and countless untold others, follow a familiar pattern. A student of color behaves as millions of other students have—finding a quiet campus space to eat, napping while studying, attending a party, queueing in line for a campus tour. Passers-by and, in some cases, law enforcement officers who carry with them the capacity for lethal force, subject this behavior to extra scrutiny.

These students and employees posed no threat to safety and were not causing any disturbance. In fact, most of them were sitting in solitude before being interrupted by law enforcement. But other students or employees view these students with suspicion precisely because these they do not see these students as a typical or ordinary part of their campus experience. They are not the image many people—including their peers—conjure when they think of the American college student. They are black or brown, Native American and immigrants, and their very existence in an elite academic setting makes others incredulous…..

…..This exclusion is true even for elite public institutions, which still have a basic responsibility to be representative of and responsive to the needs of their state populations and economies. It goes without saying that each state’s flagship campus and other selective institutions have a great deal of political power and cultural cachet. Thus, it is worth interrogating how they are doing at increasing the enrollment of black students, 50 years after the civil rights movement, at a time when higher education is more important than ever to achieving a stable life. We all benefit when these institutions are affordable, accessible, welcoming, and safe for all of their state’s students.

This brief takes a look at whether selective public colleges have made progress toward these basic goals. We find that, unfortunately, most states have very far to go in making their selective public institutions representative, and thus truly public. In many cases, institutions are less representative than they were a generation ago:….

Underrepresented, Underemployed: In the library-job search, some face special barriers

Source: Anne Ford, American Libraries, Vol. 49 nos. 11/12, November/December 2018

….White’s concerns represent only some of the potential obstacles that people from underrepresented demographic groups face when applying for positions in the library field—a field that remains about 86% white and 97% able-bodied (per the 2017 ALA Demographic Survey, which did not ask about sexual orientation.)

Because the library profession has been trying to diversify itself for a long time—particularly racially, and particularly through initiatives such as diversity task forces and diversity fellowships—some may be surprised that people from underrepresented communities still encounter barriers to library employment….