EDU news curated by Kiosk: New measures to reduce student debt… and other higher ed news

Undergrads Benefit Most From New Income-Driven Repayment Plan

From Inside Higher Education: “The benefits of a new income-driven repayment plan for federal student loans are largest for those who used the loans to pay for undergraduate degrees, especially certificates and associate degrees, according to a recent report by the Urban Institute…According to the report, borrowers who complete certificates will typically only be required to pay back 35 percent of their original balances under the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) plan. Those who complete associate degrees would repay 69 percent. Under prior IDR options, the typical borrower in both groups would generally repay loans in full.”


Overhaul of Financial Aid Formula Will Boost Pell Grant Eligibility

From Inside Higher Education: “Nearly 220,000 students will gain eligibility for the Pell Grant, a key tool for helping low-income students access college, when the federal government finalizes revisions to the system for applying for financial aid later this year, according to a new report from the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. The increase in Pell-eligible students could mean more than $617 million in additional federal aid going to students and colleges. About $29.8 billion was available for students in Pell Grant funding in 2023–24, according to federal budget documents.”


Biden Administration Details Plan for Broader Debt Relief

From Inside Higher Education: “The Education Department is proposing to cancel some or all of the outstanding student loans for certain categories of borrowers… The proposed categories are:

  • Those whose balances have increased beyond what they originally borrowed.
  • Borrowers who would be eligible for forgiveness under an income-driven repayment plan and other targeted relief programs but who didn’t apply.
  • Borrowers who have been making repayments for 25 years and still have a balance.
  • Those who attended a program that would fail the gainful-employment regulation as outlined in the department’s new rule that takes effect July 2024, or who went to an institution with high student loan default rates.”


Can Humanities Survive the Budget Cuts?

From The New York Times: “Liberal arts professors are trying to defend themselves, using arguments tailored to an economy that is rapidly shifting — while also appealing to a more august vision of life’s possibilities. In a recent YouTube video — bluntly titled ‘Is a Humanities Degree Worth It?’— Jeffrey Cohen, the dean of the humanities at Arizona State University, defends his domain as a pathway toward not just a job but a lifetime of career reinvention.’Our students are living in a time when the career that they’ve trained for is not likely to be the career that they’re going to be following 10 years later,’ Mr. Cohen says. Studying the humanities, he argues, will teach them how to be nimble.”


Debunking Perceptions About Value of Humanities Degrees

From Inside Higher Education: “An American Academy of Arts and Sciences report found humanities majors in all but four states had median incomes at least 40 percent higher than workers with only a high school degree…The number of humanities degrees conferred dropped by about 14 percent between 2012 and 2018, according to data from the AAA&S…In one of the most recent and high-profile examples, West Virginia University cut all its foreign language degree programs—among several other program reductions—earlier this fall. But according to the state-level data in the AAA&S report, humanities majors in West Virginia have a median income that is 44 percent higher ($56,841 per year) than those with just a high school degree ($39,351).”


U.S. Bans Most Withholding of Transcripts

From Inside Higher Education: “A federal policy change could give thousands of students access to transcripts and academic credits their colleges have withheld because they owed the institutions money. The new rule, part of a broad package of regulations the U.S. Education Department unveiled Tuesday, could amount to a national ban on the practice of transcript withholding, experts say. Institutions sometimes withhold transcripts to force a student to pay a balance on their account…Research from Ithaka S+R, a research and consulting group, has shown that about six million students have what are called stranded credits because of transcript withholding.”


U.S. debate on standardised tests at post-Covid crossroads

From Times Higher Education: “Nearly 90 per cent of all four-year US institutions have dropped their requirements that most applicants submit an SAT or ACT standardised test, with few reversals, according to FairTest, an advocacy group that opposes such tests. That was a ‘major victory’ for the effort, representing a doubling of the share prior to the pandemic, said Robert Schaeffer, FairTest’s public education director. Yet the overwhelming share of US institutions still look at standardised test results if students provide them, and many institutions still allocate scholarship money based on test results – both practices that FairTest sees as harmful to racial and economic diversity.”


Growing Enrollment, Shrinking Future

From Inside Higher Education: “’There is good news and bad news in the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s latest enrollment report. First, the good news: undergraduate enrollment climbed by 2.1 percent this fall, its first total increase since 2020. Enrollment increases for Black, Latino and Asian students—by 2.2 percent, 4.4 percent and 4 percent, respectively—were especially notable after last year’s declines. The bad news is that freshman enrollment declined by 3.6 percent, nearly undoing last year’s gain of 4.6 percent and leaving first-year enrollment less than a percentage point higher than it was in fall 2021, during the thick of the pandemic.”


Trump Free College Plan Taps ‘Restless Discontent’ Over Higher Ed

From Inside Higher Education: “The plan to create a national online college is a political nonstarter, experts say, but it capitalizes on concerns about price and politics in higher education…Trump, in rolling out his plan last week for what he is calling the American Academy, said he’s seeking ‘a revolution in higher education.’ Experts, however, aren’t so sure that the plan will move forward at all if Trump is elected. But the vision for a national college funded with taxes on wealthy private universities reflects the growing bipartisan frustrations with American higher education, particularly about the cost, experts said.”


The Dept. of Ed. v. Online Learning

From Inside Higher Education: “Creating an online program requires a lot of investment, as does marketing it. Revenue sharing offloads the front-end burden, which can be imperative for colleges that lack the multibillion-dollar endowments of larger household name universities. Without OPMs to shoulder start-up costs, these smaller colleges—many already struggling—would fall even further behind….The department’s ham-handed OPM regulation would have a ripple effect across the higher education ecosystem. Approximately nine out of 10 colleges that have arrangements with OPMs are public or nonprofit. If the department truly means to weed out fraudsters, it is using a sledgehammer where a scalpel is needed.”


Apprenticeship demand hits all-time high

From the HR “Hundreds of thousands of students interested in becoming an apprentice can explore all their options in one place through UCAS’ (University Central Admissions Service) new apprenticeships service…every applicant who logs into their UCAS student account, known as the UCAS Hub, will now see the most relevant apprenticeship opportunities for them alongside degree courses…To mark the launch, UCAS is releasing new survey findings which reveal unprecedented demand for apprenticeship opportunities, with nearly three in five (59%) of young people in Years 9-12 considering an apprenticeship.”

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