THE NEWS QUARTERLY FOR HIGHER EDUCATION TRUSTEES

VOL. 2,  NO. 2            SPRING 2017

 

 

T O P  S T O R I E S

 

 

 

  PURPOSE      GOVERNANCE      PUBLIC TRUST     EMERGENT ORDERS

P U R P O S E  |

“Flesh-Eating Bacterium

of Political Correctness”

So says William Deresiewicz

MORE

 

Higher Education: The Great Unequalizer  College may not do much for social mobility  MORE

 

Do Transgender Students Have Reason to Worry? Trump has ditched regs protecting them  MORE

 

 

G O V E R N a N C E  | Constitutional Arrangements in a Land
of Volunteers
  A new book tells us how laws helped make Tocqueville’s America 
MORE

 

Fear and Loathing at Middlebury  A student censorship scrum shakes up pastoral Vermont  MORE

 

Hasta la Vista, Baby  Trump scares off foreign students  MORE

 

Name, Rank, and Salary–the Never-Ending Quest for Data  Parents, legislators, and high tuition demand it

MORE

 

Fiscal Challenges Just Won’t Go Away  Illinois leads the pack of states in trouble  MORE

A Nonresident Enrollment Cap at UC  Except at Berkeley, San Diego, and UCLA  MORE

 

Endowment News  USC is up, Harvard down  MORE

 

Crime, Punishment, and Campus Safety  Another blow for U Texas  MORE

 

 

Public Trust |

Beyond Middlebury: A “Profound Threat”? A chased Charles Murray got most of the headlines, but free speech is up for grabs nationwide  MORE

 

Intellectual Diversity Still Elusive Despite U of Tennessee’s opening a special office to encourage conservative views   MORE

 

A Title IX Witch Hunt? 
The law to discourage sex discrimination remains divisive 
MORE

 

Tenure’s Tenuous Tenure  Number of profs with such job security has dropped from 45% to 29%  MORE

 

 

E M E R G E N T   O R D E R S | Trump Delays Regulations ─For-Profit Colleges’ Stock Rise  Voodoo economics it ain't  MORE

That Tall Guy from Tennessee  He wasn’t born on a tabletop, but Lamar Alexander is the go-to congressman for education policy  MORE

 

A Push for Career Education New legislation on Capitol Hill and coding boot camp coalitions  MORE

 

What Just Happened? Trump’s First 100 Days Plenty of fire, not so much light  MORE

 

Are Elite Colleges a Roadblock to Upward Social Mobility? The Equality of Opportunity Project says yes  MORE

 

Black Colleges Feel the Warm Embrace of a Cool White House  A new life in the West Wing for HBCUs  MORE

 

FAFSA Fails College applicants lost a popular tool and 100,000 families were mugged  MORE

 

Trump Education Budget: Wow! Will Congress save Education Department from a 13% downsizing? MORE

 

“Neither a Borrower nor a Lender Be” Our student debtors have not heeded the Bard  MORE

 

The High Cost of Free Tuition NY guv calls his proposal “outrageously ambitiousˮ MORE

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P U R P O S E

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CURRICULUM

 

“Flesh-Eating Bacterium of Political Correctness”  College presidents, facing backlash against what the academic right calls ‘political correctness’ may discard safe spaces and trigger warnings and entertain politically “incorrect” speech to prove how First Amendment–friendly they are. Robert Zimmer, president of University of Chicago, says his school will not censor speech and would welcome white nationalist, and former attendee, of the university Richard Spencer on campus. Meanwhile a commentator for the Heritage Foundation, Walter E. Williams, a black economist, disdains black students at the University of Michigan for requesting “a permanent designated space on central campus for black students and students of color to organize and do social justice work.” Carol Swain, a black political scientist at Vanderbilt, who believes that Islam is dangerous and that the Black Lives Matter movement is a “very destructive force,” is finally calling it quits after students petitioned for her suspension. Then there’s Michigan State, which tried to eliminate hate speech scrawled on whiteboards outside student dorm rooms by banning the whiteboards. At Scripps College, according to William Deresiewicz after a one-semester teaching stint at the elite 95-year-old California women's college, students suppress conservative views for fear of angering the entrenched liberal elite. “Let us eschew the familiar examples,” writes the ex-Yale professor: “the disinvited speakers, the Title IX tribunals, the safe zones stocked with Play-Doh, the crusades against banh mi. The flesh-eating bacterium of political correctness, which feeds preferentially on brain tissue, and which has become endemic on elite college campuses, reveals its true virulence not in the sorts of high-profile outbreaks that reach the national consciousness, but in the myriad of ordinary cases—the everyday business-as-usual at institutions around the country—that are rarely even talked about.”   TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

Higher Education: The Great Unequalizer  College leaders and middle America may not be on the same page when it comes to the value of higher education. According to the American Council on Education, working- and middle-class families believe the economic value of a college degree is declining and that college administrators are indifferent to costs. And instead of being the great equalizer for social mobility, could higher education actually perpetuate inequality? In North Carolina, the Raleigh–Durham–Chapel Hill area—home to NCSU, Duke, and UNC—is among the most educated and economically successful in the entire country. However, outside of the Research Triangle, where most non-flagship universities and community colleges are located, incomes are low and unemployment high.    TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

COMMUNITY

 

Do Transgender Students Have Reason to Worry? Not too long ago—the 1960s—an alumnus of Princeton, at the thought of a co-ed alma mater, proclaimed, “I just don’t see why we feel we should concern ourselves with educating a few [women].”  While administrators and alumni haven’t yet suggested that transgender students shouldn’t be educated at their schools, it worries some students and professors that the Trump Departments of Justice and Education have chosen to eliminate rules protecting transgender students under Title IX; they say the rules created too many lawsuits and that the matter should be decided by the states. In fact, North Carolina proved that it could be done (after massive protests and boycotts), repealing the state’s infamous “bathroom law” this spring.  TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

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governance

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TRUSTEEShip

 

Constitutional Arrangements in a Land of Volunteers More than any other people in the world, Americans have always liked to form and join voluntary associations. In The Making of Tocqueville’s America, historian Kevin Butterfield examines how America’s culture of association developed. After the Revolutionary War, Americans formed associations “frequently and enthusiastically,” from churches and fraternities to reform societies, labor unions, and private business corporations. What these organizations had in common was that they were shaped by law from both the inside and outside—a habit of American democracy that is deeply embedded in our higher education system’s constitutional arrangements.  TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

ADMINISTRATION

 

Fear and Loathing at Middlebury Middlebury College, the 217-year-old liberal arts school nestled in the Champlain Valley, is normally a peaceful place. Yet, earlier this year, the campus made headlines the world over when hundreds of angry students shouted down Charles Murray, the conservative social scientist and outspoken co-author of The Bell Curve, a 1994 book that linked intelligence and race. Murray had taken a Middlebury stage ostensibly to talk about his 2012 book, Coming Apart, an analysis of the white working class in America, but he never got the chance; students started various chants, such as “Racist, sexist, antigay, Charles Murray, go away!” Later, the SUV carrying Dr. Murray was set upon by a swarm of protesters, and a professor with him ended up in the ER. Columnist George Will dubbed the student disrupters a “progressive mob,” and the incident generated weeks of soul-searching by educators already besieged by free speech controversies. (See Further Reading, below, and Beyond Middlebury.) Some blame the election of Donald Trump. Others say it’s caused by “the bubble” of liberalism and white privilege that tends to form at small liberal-arts schools, while still others point to the “emotional coddling” and “intellectual impoverishment” of today’s young people. Some attribute the shift to the 2011 Obama administration’s “Dear Colleague” letter, which was meant to help students who were victims of sexual harassment, but may have prompted an overcorrection that ended in censorship. TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

Hasta la Vista, Baby A testament to the power of the bully pulpit, President Trump’s executive order barring nationals of six Muslim-majority countries from entering the US hadn’t even taken effect—and still hasn’t, as of this writing—when colleges began seeing a drop in international applications. Many American college administrators were already voicing concern about other immigration issues, such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and sanctuary campuses. Nearly four in ten U.S. colleges are seeing a drop in applications from international students, with the biggest decline coming from students from the Middle East, according to a survey by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRO). International students bring more than $32 billion a year into the United States economy. More than 560 college and university presidents sent a letter to President Trump urging him to allow “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children, to continue working and studying in this country.   TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

Name, Rank, and Salary–The Never-Ending Quest for Data  Before shelling out thousands, parents want specifics from colleges such as graduation rates and, well, how much their sociology/engineering grads will make out of the chute.  The Obama administration tried to develop such a database but faced opposition from colleges that said each school has its own mission and thus couldn’t be compared to others. Ever-persistent Obama’s ED produced a scorecard that in general terms revealed graduation rates, post-college earnings, and debt burdens; its lack of specificity was criticized. For instance, the metrics now include only full-time students who are attending their first colleges—such incomplete data give somewhat worthless results.  Even U.S. News and World Report’s college list confused Florida students when they saw Florida ranking as number one [based on graduation rates and low debt at graduation]. But parents and legislators continue to press colleges for more data regarding graduation results, salaries, and debt. Nonprofits, states, and the feds will continue to seek this information regardless of whether or not the schools want to give it. High tuition demands it.  TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

Fiscal Challenges Just Won’t Go Away If New York State received extravagant attention for its “free tuition” plan (see “The High Cost of Free Tuition"), it might very well be because most public universities don't have such luxuries. In fact, according to the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, state funding for higher education was down in 2016. And even though 33 states increased their higher ed budgets, average expenditures were still below prerecession levels in 45 states. And the University of California’s exceptional fundraising successes (see “Endowment News”) might just signal the extent of fiscal challenges elsewhere. In fact, the state of California had to raise tuition for its 238,00 public school students for the first time since  2011. In the Lone Star State, University of Texas officials scrapped plans to expand into Houston and the state’s college commissioner says that Texas is “going to have to substantially reinvent higher education.” But Illinois wins the prize for fiscal stress; according to The Wall Street Journal, the Land of Lincoln’s public universities “are going beyond belt-tightening to deal with a funding drought with no end in sight.” Private colleges are struggling as well. According to an Education Department analysis, 177 private degree-granting institutions failed a test for financial responsibility in 2014–15; some have since closed.   TO THE TOP

Sources & Further Reading

 

A Nonresident Enrollment Cap at UC  In an effort to appease California families who say their children are being squeezed out of the famed University of California system by higher-paying out-of-state and foreign students, UC has proposed capping nonresident undergraduate enrollment at 20 percent of total enrollment. One catch: The limit won’t apply to three of the most prestigious UC schools where nonresident enrollment already exceeds 20 percent: UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, and UCLA. Each year, millions of students who need help navigating the admissions process and getting into the college of their choice visit CollegeConfidential.com. Founded in 2001, the popular website had more than 40 million unique users last year and over 260 million page views. TO THE TOP

Sources & Further Reading

 

Endowment News: Harvard Consolidates, USC Keeps the Money Rolling In  Amid a decade of lackluster returns, Harvard Management Company, which manages $36 billion, announced earlier this year that it will lay off half its staff, shut down its internal hedge funds, and invest nearly all its money with outside money managers. Only management of Harvard’s natural resources portfolio and passively managed exchange-traded funds will remain in-house. This is all part of a radical overhaul by Harvard’s new endowment chief, N. P. “Narv” Narvekar, the endowment’s fourth chief executive in a decade, who has been promised at least $6 million a year over the next three years. The stakes are high, as Harvard relies on the endowment for more than one-third of its annual operating budget. On the other side of the country, the University of Southern California’s fundraising campaign—the largest fundraising campaign in the history of higher education at the time it was first announced in 2011—has been so successful that the school  has decided to keep it going until 2021.  TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

Crime, Punishment, and Campus Safety The stabbing incident on the campus of the University of Texas in early May was a tragic reminder of higher education’s number one priority: the safety of its students. A mentally disturbed man decided to attack at random, without warning, killing one student and injuring three others before being subdued by police. The attack immediately resurrected memories of the 1966 University of Texas Tower massacre on the same campus (a shooter killed 14 people and injured 31) and will no doubt spur colleges and their trustees to review their campus security systems. Georgia’s legislature had just passed a “Campus Carry” law that would allow concealed handguns on the state’s college campuses—a similar bill was vetoed by the governor in 2016. And a popular singer canceled a concert at the UT campus last year because of Texas’s 2015 law allowing guns on campus. Sexual assault remains a college campus challenge (see “Title IX Witch Hunt”), with college athletes attracting a great deal of unwanted attention off the field. The Wall Street Journal reported in March that over 100 college athletes who had committed serious crimes since 2011, including armed robbery and rape, went on to play for another school. By coincidence a recent survey at UT Austin found that 15 percent of undergraduate female students said they had been raped, twice as high as other UT schools.   TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

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PUBLIC TRUST

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CRITIQUE

 

Beyond Middlebury: A “Profound Threat”?  There’s increasing evidence, as Robert Shibley argues, that free speech is under a “profound threat” on campuses nationwide. As  executive director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, he may be biased. But he’s not alone (see the headlines in our Sources and Further Reading, below). Unrest like the 60s? From free speech bastion Berkeley, which canceled an appearance by conservative commentator Ann Coulter, to staid University of Chicago, where no fewer than four student and faculty groups protested an appearance by President Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, censorship is busting out all over. While the threat comes from many different directions, some say it’s largely internal—“an intellectual blindness” says former Stanford provost John Etchemendy, that in the long run could be more damaging than cuts in federal funding or limits on immigration. To combat the common portrayal of students as intolerant, a small group of students from colleges around the country have started a free speech movement, urging others to become leading defenders of free speech on campus—including ideas they may find personally offensive. But on some of the nation’s most prestigious campuses, like Amherst and Harvard, continued reports of “locker-room talk” and acts of misogyny are reminders of a related, perhaps larger, problem: racism and class divisions.  TO THE TOP

Sources & Further Reading

 

Intellectual Diversity Still Elusive  New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff touched off a wonderful debate last December with a deeply resonant essay about the partisan “echo chambers” that our universities had become (see last issue of Paideia Times). And that debate has carried on noticeably these last several months under a new label: intellectual diversity. “Legislative Panel Seeks to Open ‘Intellectual Diversity’ Office at U. of Tennessee” was a Chronicle of Education headline in early March. It told of a $500,000 commitment by the Volunteers to open an office that would “encourage more people with conservative views to speak their minds.” But the difficulty of quieting the echo chamber was illustrated by a Higher Education Research Institute survey that revealed that in 2014 only 32 percent of first-year students considered themselves liberal or far-left while 60 percent of faculty members were so self-described. Thus the new outreach seemed to come to a crashing halt at Middlebury (see “Fear and Loathing at Middlebury”) and became more troubled at Berkeley, where canceled speeches of conservatives David Horowitz and Ann Coulter this spring continued to test the limits of intellectual diversity at American universities. (See here and here.)   TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

REGULATION

 

A Title IX Witch Hunt?  More and more are saying that Title IX, legislation that was originally intended to combat sexual discrimination in college athletics, is now being used to ruin the careers and lives of students and professors accused of sexual assault. Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis says that the legislation turned into a “witch hunt” that was used to silence her for a story she wrote in The Chronicle of Higher Education in 2015 criticizing the politics surrounding relationships between undergrads and faculty. President Donald Trump and education secretary Betsy DeVos could undo the damage “with the stroke of a pen” but have so far done nothing to address the issue. Meanwhile, a jury reached a split verdict in the trial of Graham B. Spanier, the former Pennsylvania State University president. Spanier, once a leading figure in American higher education, was convicted of one count of child endangerment and acquitted on two other counts related to the Jerry Sandusky child-molesting scandal. Questions remain about what Spanier knew and whether he could have done more to prevent the abuse. In the five years since Sandusky’s conviction, donations to the school and enrollment are up; nonetheless, the case sends the message that campus sex crimes can no longer be covered up or treated lightly. And in other news, Rolling Stone has reached a confidential settlement over its now discredited 2014 story about an alleged gang rape on the University of Virginia campus. TO THE TOP

Sources & Further Reading

 

Tenure’s Tenuous Tenure The presidents of Columbia, Harvard, and the University of Chicago established tenure in the early 20th century to protect professors from unceremonious firing by donors and to let them better and more freely educate students. Today, just 29 percent of professors at public and private colleges are tenured, compared to 45 percent in 1975. Wisconsin, Florida, and Iowa legislators, to name a few, are pushing for tenure elimination to either save money or make sacking easier. Iowa is seeing pushback from the Board of Regents and professors who say losing tenure risks losing talented teachers and lucrative grants. Some conservative lawmakers say that the mostly liberal tenured professors indoctrinate students to their own views, a position echoed by Chester E. Finn, Jr., senior fellow at both the Hoover and Thomas B. Fordham institutes:  “‘Academic freedom’ is a serious matter…  but it’s significantly protected by the First Amendment and—for me at least—carries less oomph at a time when too many professors and teachers (at least in the humanities and social sciences) are tending toward indoctrination.”  TO THE TOP

Sources & Further Reading

 

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EMERGENT ORDERS

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HIGHER EDUCATION

 

Trump Delays Regulations─For-Profit Colleges’ Stocks Rise The “gainful employment” (GE) rules that President Obama used at the Department of Education (ED) were meant to prevent the heavy debt accrued for career training that didn’t win the salary to pay for it. But President Trump has delayed enforcing the GE sanctions, giving those for-profits until July 1 to appeal their cases. Both the Universal Tech Institute and DeVry Education Group saw double-digit stock price increases on that news.  On the other hand, the ED’s independent inspector general, wary of the Corinthian College debacle, says ED needs to better police for-profits and their finances. And for-profit recruiter turned sociologist Tressie MacMillan Cottom lays bare the hard-sell tactics used at for-profits to “close” deals with prospective students—get ’em in at any cost—in her new book Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy.  TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

K–12 EDUCATION

 

That Tall Guy from Tennessee  With a big boost from the American Enterprise Institute, Senator Lamar Alexander has become the go-to guy on Capitol Hill for the nation’s education policy. And in a recent daylong event at AEI’s headquarters in DC Alexander proved why. He and dozens of the country’s best and brightest in the education policy world were there to talk about the historic Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that he guided into law as chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. He also guided Betsy DeVos to her job as Secretary of Education. No small feats. It was one of the most turbulent Congressional sessions in memory, during one of the most vitrolic presidential campaigns in history, and in the teeth of a storm over such national education controversies as the Common Core State Standards. “I was looking around our committee the other day,” Alexander told the AEI crowd, “and wondered how the hell did we ever pass this law, because there’s a lot of difficult politics in schools.” Understatement of the year?  TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

TECHNOLOGY

 

A Push for Career Education On the campaign trail, while education tended to take a backseat to issues like trade and immigration for Donald Trump, he did talk about expanding vocational and technical education. Now, House lawmakers are reintroducing legislation to help students enter the workforce with the necessary skills to compete for highly skilled, in-demand technical jobs. At the same time, in an effort to avoid the same “death spiral” that other for-profit colleges have experienced, 17 of the largest coding boot camps, or accelerated computer programming programs, are joining together. The new coalition will release job-place and graduation data, allowing prospective students to better compare schools. TO THE TOP

Sources & Further Reading

 

GOVERNMENT

 

What Just Happened? Trump’s First 100 Days Perhaps the most dramatic higher-education event of the Trump administration's first 100 days was the rolling nomination hearings for secretary of education and the subsequent photo-finish Senate vote (see PT, “Betsy Wins by a Pence”).  The appointment of Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. to a new White House task force on higher education looked dramatic (see PT, “Trump’s January Surprise—Jerry Falwell Jr.”) but nary a word has been heard from the head of the nation’s largest nonprofit college on the subject of reforming higher education since his appointment. He derided a letter from a group of congressional Democrats sent him in late February as “completely partisan” and indicated in March that he would be coming to Washington. Some higher education experts believe that the Trump administration's “singular focus on school choice” for K–12 will have an impact on student aid, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Choice has its limits in higher ed, Harvard’s Joshua Goodman told the Chronicle. “Folks who put a lot of stock in choice operate under the belief that students are informed consumers about the choices they’re making.” (See “Name, Rank, and Salary.”) Finally, including the attempts at immigration crackdowns and draconian budget pronouncements (see “Trump Education Budget”), the early days of the Trump administration have brought few surprises.  TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

Are Elite Colleges a Roadblock to Upward Social Mobility? While the nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities tout their commitment to affordability and generous financial aid packages for students from low-income backgrounds, mid-tier public universities like City College of New York, Cal State Los Angeles, and UT Rio Grande Valley may actually be better engines of social mobility. The Equality of Opportunity Project recently analyzed millions of anonymous income and financial-aid records and found that students from families in the top one percent are 77 times more likely to attend an elite school than students from families in the bottom 20 percent. A poor student who does get into one of the elite schools has a very good chance of winding up wealthy. The problem, however, is that these schools are enrolling so few low-income students that their overall effect on social mobility is minimal. To make matters worse, a study by the Education Trust found that only four in ten African-American students who start college as first-time, full-time freshmen earn a bachelor’s degree within six years.   TO THE TOP

Sources & Further Reading

 

Black Colleges Feel the Warm Embrace of a Cool White House  One of the more dazzling turns of presidential precedent in Donald Trump’s first 100 days came on February 28 when the real estate mogul–cum–commander in chief signed an executive order transferring administrative oversight for the Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) from the federal Education Department to the White House. It was to be a part of Trump’s “urban agenda” and at first blush seemed like a win-win; black colleges would receive special attentions from the new president, who in turn would enjoy some needed understanding by civil rights supporters. The first hiccup came at the executive order signing ceremony, when newly minted Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos told the black educators, “Rather than focus solely on funding, we must be willing to make the tangible, structural reforms that will allow students to reach their full potential.” That was greeted with some apprehension by HBCU allies. The other shoe dropped a couple weeks later when the White House released its budget proposal and, indeed, the HBCUs got no more additional funding. Given the slashing that other educators took from the new administration (see “Trump Education Budget”), the black educators may have missed a mugging.   TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

FAFSA Fails In the middle of the financial aid season, the federal government abruptly suspended the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, which is used by millions of students each year to automatically import tax information onto their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). About 20 million people filled out FAFSA forms in 2015–16. And the consequences extend beyond financial aid. The online tool is also used by people enrolled in income-driven repayment plans to update their tax information every year. It wasn’t until April that it was revealed that the financial information of up to 100,000 families may have been stolen in a security breach. The tax tool will not be available until the next FAFSA season, which begins in October.  TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

Trump Education Budget: Wow! Whether bluster or reality, Donald Trump’s proposed $9.2 billion cut—a 13 percent downsizing—to the Education Department’s budget has scared a few people. The new president’s proposal would axe teacher training and afterschool programs from K–12, while adding $20 billion in tax credits for school choice programs. Pell Grants would remain largely intact, but supplemental grants and work-study are on the chopping block. The biggest single cut—18 percent, or $5.8 billion—hits the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which, though part of the Department of Health and Human Services, would significantly impact university research. New York University president Andrew Hamilton says the Trump budget is “a blueprint for disaster”: 80 percent of NIH grants go to vital research such as for cancer drugs; the funding supports 400,000 jobs and brings in scientists worldwide—Nobel Prize winners—wanting to work at US universities. Moody’s Investors Service warns that the proposed cuts could have a serious impact on research universities as well as “ripple effects” throughout the system. Finally, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and that for the Humanities (NEH) would be kaput: The $148 million involved is only a drop in the bucket to the budget, but the grants it funds are as good a godsend as an assembly-line job to their thousands of recipients. Apparently, Congress heard the protests. As of early May congressional negotiators had endorsed a last-minute spending bill that pares back total federal spending on education by only $60 million. TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

“Neither a Borrower nor a Lender Be”: Would That Student Debtors Heeded the Bard According to the General Accounting Office, American taxpayers will eventually forgive $108 billion in student loans taken out by the college-bound over the last decade. Answers to why range from easy credit to predatory loan servicers to gouging tuitions. A government program called Parent Plus allows parents to borrow large sums with little up-front credit checks because the political gains are good: The loans allow many more poor Americans to attend college. Overseeing the vast loan servicing network is difficult and the Trump administration has already quashed an Obama plan to simplify the system. Navient, one of nine loan servicing vendors, had multiple predatory practice charges against it, but its stocks have risen. Scholars suggest colleges put some skin in the game by doing more to ensure graduation and find graduates jobs─or face penalties. Other solutions range from Income Sharing Accounts to allowing bankruptcy discharges for student debt to colleges’ stepping in to help. The current administration has promised to help with student debt; no plans have yet emerged.  TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

The High Cost of Free Tuition The idea of free tuition at public colleges was thought to be dead upon election. But starting this fall, New York is set to become the first state in the country to make tuition free for middle-class students attending the state’s two- and four-year colleges and universities. Under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “outrageously ambitious” (says Cuomo) plan, tuition will be free for households earning up to $100,000 a year. That will rise to $125,000 by 2019, at which time, the plan will be costing the state an estimated $163 million a year. Students will need to live and work in the Empire State for the same number of years they received the money; if they leave before then, their “free” tuition will turn into a loan. Critics say this will limit young people’s ability to move to other areas for better jobs. Critics on both sides of the aisle fear the plan will place “damaging financial strains” on the SUNY and CUNY systems, while benefiting higher-income New Yorkers more. Still others fear that free tuition is a “political ploy” that will cause enrollments to plunge at private colleges as well as for-profit schools. “It’s huge,” says one mother of an entering NYS freshman. “We’re in that sweet spot where we don’t make $250,000 a year and we don’t qualify for free giveaways, either. We are the epitome of New York’s middle class.” TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

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