Value of a Degree: What We Mean When We Say Student Debt Is Bad by NYT > EducationAug 09, 2014 “Student loans need reform. But recent gloomy reports obscure the key benefit of borrowing for college: a college education.”
Embattled NCAA lets richest colleges play their own game by Education News Headlines - Yahoo! NewsAug 07, 2014 “U.S. college sports took a first step in addressing broad criticism about treatment of student-athletes with a vote Thursday to grant some autonomy to rich athletic conferences, a tacit acknowledgement of their unrivaled economic clout. The new structure among the five biggest conferences hands them broader authority to set their own rules and could potentially pave the way for the 65 universities to offer compensation to student-athletes. The National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I board of directors approved the measure that would let the so-called power five - the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference - self-govern in areas such as scholarships, insurance and travel for athletes' families. The conferences and the NCAA have faced legal, political and public pressure to share its billions in revenue they generate from amateur athletes and guarantee them stronger benefits.”
How Marriage Law Ruling Affects Financial Aid Options by Education News Headlines - Yahoo! NewsAug 06, 2014 “Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that part of the federal law against gay marriage, the Defense of Marriage Act, was unconstitutional. This section had prohibited all federal agencies, including the Department of Education, from recognizing same-sex marriages for the purpose of federal programs, including financial aid programs. This ruling resulted in significant changes to eligibility for both federal student aid and certain student loan repayment options. Here are five things all families, regardless of current marriage status, need to know about changes to the financial aid process in the wake of the ruling.”
California Cracks Down on University of Phoenix's Veteran Enrollments by Education News Headlines - Yahoo! NewsAug 01, 2014 “The state of California has banned the San Diego campus of the University of Phoenix from enrolling additional veterans in seven of its programs, joining a growing list of government agencies cracking down on for-profit colleges. The university, a subsidiary of Apollo Education Group Inc., disputes the results of the audit and said that it expects the audit to be revised. In early July, Corinthian Colleges Inc., based in Santa Ana, Calif., announced it would largely cease operations after the for-profit school came under scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Education for its marketing practices, dropout rates and loan defaults. "Nationally, we're seeing a lot more engagement from all levels of government on this issue," said Ben Miller, an education analyst at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank.”
Corinthian faces uphill struggle to sell Everest colleges by Education News Headlines - Yahoo! NewsJul 25, 2014 “It took a cryptic message on her college login page to alert Stephenie Wickiser to the plight of the company that owns her online university. Corinthian Colleges Inc is the first university operator in the United States to feel the force of a government crackdown on the $28 billion for-profit education sector. As part of an agreement with the Department of Education - the same deal to which Wickiser's login page made reference - Corinthian has six months to sell most of its campuses or close them down. "I am just worried that I am going to be stuck with all these student loans, and my degree means absolutely nothing," said Wickiser, a paralegal student at Corinthian's Everest University Online.”
Stray Decimal Points Put Thousands of Students' Financial Aid in Jeopardy by Education News Headlines - Yahoo! NewsJul 24, 2014 “A mistake in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application forms could cost tens of thousands of students their financial aid. The Department of Education told The Associated Press that a change in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, resulted in many students incorrectly entering their personal income levels. They estimate up to 200,000 people were wrongly declared eligible and others were incorrectly denied. The DOE is trying to identify who was incorrectly selected for the Pell Grants and have since corrected the error on the online form, which stemmed from rogue decimal points.”
Report: Nearly 1 million community college students can’t take out federal loans by Education: DC Area Education News, Education Policy, School Information - The Washington PostJul 16, 2014 “Nearly 1 million students in community colleges are unable to take out federal student loans because their schools don’t participate in the federal program, an advocacy group reported Tuesday . The Institute for College Access and Success, which studied the issue nationally, said 8.5 percent of all students at the public two-year colleges are blocked from a source of financing usually cheaper than a private loan. Read full article >>”
Former Scholarship Recipient Pays it Forward by UConn TodayJul 17, 2014 “An alum who benefited from a scholarship after his father died hopes to help reduce uncertainty in the lives of current students. ...”
Credit rating agencies keep GW's A-level ratings after $300 million debt increase by The GW HatchetJul 31, 2014 “Construction for the Science and Engineering Hall will cost $275 million, which is "substantially in excess" of GW's cash flow, according to S&P's report. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer
Analysts who grade universities’ financial health say GW is on stable ground after adding $300 million to its debt load because of plans to take advantage of lower interest rates.
After previously cautioning the University against adding more debt, two credit rating agencies gave GW the same A-level ratings it earned last year. Both agencies found GW’s financial resources could still support its debt amount, according to reports released last week.
GW will use $130 million of new debt to replace existing loans and lock in lower interest rates, cutting out about eight percent of its total debt load.
That will eventually bring its $1.7 billion debt down to $1.55 billion. GW will put the remaining $170 million toward construction projects, including moving Student Health Service to campus.
“We believe they’re at the debt capacity for the current rating,” Standard & Poor’s analyst Ken Rodgers said. “Because some debt ratios are a bit constrained, it’s not inconceivable if they were to issue any more debt of a reasonable magnitude, that could pressure the rating.”
S&P and Moody’s Investor Service kept their A+ and A1 ratings, respectively, for GW after weighing details like the University’s debt total, the amount it pulls in from tuition, the cost of ongoing construction projects and the strength of its financial foundation. They consider all schools in the A level – the top tier – to be in stable financial health.
Ten of the 14 schools GW considers its peers have higher ratings in Moody's A category, including New York, Boston, Northwestern and Tufts universities. American University is one of only a handful of schools to receive an upgrade from Moody’s over the last year and now shares GW’s A1 ranking.
GW had about $18.9 million in extra money for day-to-day expenses in fiscal year 2013, a 73 percent jump from the year before, according to the S&P report.
But the money GW has spent on projects like the $275 million Science and Engineering Hall and the $130 million residence hall District House is "substantially in excess of its cash flow," the S&P report read. Though GW is stable now, it is also “unlikely” that it will increase resources enough for a better rating.
GW’s construction spending totaled about $275 million last fiscal year and will come to $175 million next year, according to the reports.
Treasurer and Executive Vice President Lou Katz declined to comment on whether the University plans to take out more debt in the future. He said in an email statement that borrowing at “key times” when interest rates are low will help GW save money in the long run.
Economics professor Donald Parsons, who wrote a report last winter that criticized the University’s long-term financial plan, said GW is taking a gamble by adding more debt.
“I think there’s no doubt this explosion of debt reveals the Board of Trustees’ thirst for spending exceeds substantially their ability to acquire the resources to do it,” said Parsons, who serves on the Faculty Senate’s fiscal planning and budget committee. “The obvious question is how excited will future students be about this spending now.”
District House will fit nearly 900 sophomores and juniors. Rendering courtesy of GW.
Jennifer Delaney, an assistant professor in education policy at the University of Illinois, said it is not uncommon for schools to take out debt to help pay for pricey construction projects.
“It makes GW more in debt right now, but it will likely pay off,” Delaney said. “They’re building things that (A) have value and (B) will last for a long time.”
Delaney said many schools like GW are investing in construction as an “arms race” in higher education puts pressure on schools to lure students away from competitors by offering top-notch buildings.
“Schools need nicer campuses and facilities to attract students and tuition dollars,” she said. “To attract students, they need to provide amenities students are coming to expect.”
The University’s relatively small $1.5 billion endowment keeps it reliant on tuition for 62 percent of revenue. Northwestern has a debt load of about $1.5 billion, but its endowment is more than five times larger than GW’s.
The Moody’s report noted that GW will likely not be able to continue increasing its tuition to grow revenue because of an already high sticker price of more than $60,000 .
That pressure on the University's bottom line could hurt it in the long term, said Noel Radomski, the director of the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education. He said GW still faces “significant” challenges.
“I would not be taking out so many bonds at this moment and advancing capital projects at this time. It’s too risky at this point,” Radomski said. “Your endowment is too low in comparison with debt, but your tuition is too high because you can’t go too much higher given the market and public perception.”
The increased debt, which Moody’s said was about 1.41 times GW’s day-to-day revenue in fiscal year 2013, leaves administrators with little wiggle room, Radomski said.
“There’s a small margin for error,” he said. “You don’t just take out debt primarily because interest rates are low.”
Though S&P cited “uncertainty about future capital costs” for GW’s most recent financial undertaking – absorbing the Corcoran and committing millions of dollars to renovate its building – Moody’s said the merger would be manageable. The agency pointed out that Corcoran students can join GW’s existing programs and bring in revenue. Both agencies also found that the public launch of GW’s fundraising campaign could help take some pressure off its high spending on capital projects if it reaches the $1 billion goal. The University has so far raised about $525 million with four years remaining of the campaign.”
Forbes: Clark among ‘Top Colleges,’ No. 66 in Northeast, 68th in Research Universities by Clark News Hub » News ReleasesAug 16, 2014 “Clark University appears in Forbes’ annual “America’s Top Colleges” report, at No. 146 on the list of 650 schools recognized this year.
Besides the overall ranking, Clark is ranked No. 114 among Private Colleges, No. 68 in Research Universities, and No. 66 in the Northeast.
This is the seventh year Forbes has partnered exclusively with the Washington, D.C.-based Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP) to compile rankings that focus on quality of teaching, great career prospects, high graduation rates and low debt levels.
According to Caroline Howard of Forbes, this year’s “Top Colleges” list “comes down to small, student-centric, liberal arts colleges vs. large, brainy, research-oriented universities closely associated with science, technology, engineering and math.”
“The Forbes 7th annual Top Colleges ranking reveals higher education in flux, ongoing debate between the value of liberal arts vs. STEM degrees and a winning formula of high student satisfaction and graduation rates, alumni career success and low student debt,” Howard wrote.
Forbes’ rankings are based on five general categories: post-graduate success (32.5%), which evaluates alumni pay and prominence, student satisfaction (25%), which includes professor evaluations and freshman to sophomore year retention rates, debt (25%), which penalizes schools for high student debt loads and default rates, four-year graduation rate (7.5%) and academic success (10% ) , which rewards schools whose students win prestigious scholarships and fellowships like the Rhodes, the National Science Foundation and the Fulbright or go on to earn a Ph.D.
The rankings can be found at http://www.forbes.com/top-colleges/list/ .
To see more Clark University rankings and recognition, visit clarku.edu/rankings .
LEEP at Clark: Liberal education amplified
Clark University named a ‘best buy’ in 2015 Fiske Guide to Colleges
Clark University MBA program in U.S. News ‘Best Graduate Schools’
U.S. News Best Colleges 2014 ranks Clark University in top 100; 29 in ‘Great Schools at Great Prices’ Founded in 1887 in Worcester, Massachusetts, Clark University is a liberal arts-based research university addressing social and human imperatives on a global scale. Nationally renowned as a college that changes lives, Clark is emerging as a transformative force in higher education today. LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) is Clark’s pioneering model of education that combines a robust liberal arts curriculum with life-changing world and workplace experiences. Clark’s faculty and students work across boundaries to develop solutions to complex challenges in the natural sciences, psychology, geography, management, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. The Clark educational experience embodies the University’s motto: Challenge convention. Change our world. ”
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