EDU news curated by Kiosk: Student debt update…and other higher ed news

We just got a fresh sign that Biden’s plan to give millions of student-loan borrowers who fell behind on payments a shot at debt relief is working

From Business Insider: “The New York Federal Reserve released its quarterly report on household debt and credit … While it found that total debt balances grew by $394 billion in the fourth quarter of 2022, with mortgage and credit card debt driving the increases, student loans were not a significant contributor to the increase. … The New York Fed report found that less than 1% of the total student-debt load was delinquent or in default for more than 90 days in the fourth quarter. … student-loan borrowers who were previously behind on their payments — or delinquent — saw their conditions improve in the last quarter thanks to President Joe Biden’s ‘Fresh Start’ plan.”


Conservative and liberals split at Supreme Court over Biden student loan plan

From NPR: “The biggest sticking point of the day, though, was whether the six state objectors have legal standing to challenge the student loan forgiveness plan at all. If they can’t show they have suffered a concrete harm, they have no right to sue. … At the end of a 3 1/2-hour argument, the bottom line remained the same. Unless the court decides that the states have no standing to sue and throws the case out of court, the Biden student loan forgiveness program will likely be struck down. A decision in the case is expected by summer.”


As court debates student loans, borrowers see disconnect

From The Public’s Radio: “Arguments at the Supreme Court over President Joe Biden’s student debt cancellation left some borrowers feeling isolated as they heard such a personal subject reduced to cold legal language. Borrower Niara Thompson had a seat in the audience and was surprised to hear lengthy discussion about the definition of words like ‘waive’ and ‘modify.’ Debt is a deeply personal issue for Thompson, who will graduate from the University of Georgia with about $50,000 in student debt. It’s not unusual for Supreme Court cases to hang on legal technicalities, but some borrowers say they feel like the arguments miss the bigger picture around college affordability.”


In other news…

How short-term thinking deters colleges from accepting transfer credits

From Inside Higher Ed: “The paper suggests that the default approach at many colleges is to reject credits in part because campus leaders think it costs them to do otherwise. It notes that transfer students with unaccepted course credits need to retake classes, which creates immediate tuition revenue for colleges and universities—a financial gain in the eyes of administrators. But the paper argues that students who transfer with fewer accepted credits are more likely to drop out before graduating, which means students ultimately take fewer courses and colleges receive less tuition revenue over time.”


Millions of men are leaving the workforce. Here’s the lasting impact that has on the economy.

From USA Today: “In January, the share of 25- to 54-year-old men working or job-hunting was at 88.5%, below the pre-pandemic mark of 89.2%. By contrast, the participation rate for women in that age group had climbed to 76.9%, effectively back to its pre-pandemic level of 77%. If the participation rate for prime-age men was at its 1990 level, there would be an additional 2.7 million of them in the workforce, estimates economist Justin Begley of Moody’s Analytics.”


‘Wasted money’: How career training companies scoop up federal funds with little oversight

From The Hechinger Report: “Between 2018 and 2021, these schools took in more than $239 million in federal workforce grants from the Department of Labor — most of which went to for-profit institutions like MedCerts. On top of that, such schools received unspecified millions of dollars in tuition money from Department of Defense grants for military service members and their spouses. … MedCerts … is approved to provide workforce training in more than 30 states. It promises quick, affordable paths to jobs; most courses take less than nine months to complete and cost less than $5,000. Yet it’s impossible to know how many MedCerts students finish their programs or how many of those who use taxpayer money to do so ultimately get jobs in the fields they trained for.”


Nearly half of students lack key academic guidance

From Inside Higher Ed: “Just 55 percent of students say they’ve been advised on required coursework for graduation, according to Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse’s survey on students’ experiences with advising and registration. … Looking at responses by institution type, 56 percent of four-year college students say they’ve gotten this kind of advice, compared to 49 percent of community college students. By race, greater differences emerge: some 63 percent of white students say they’ve been advised on required courses and sequences, compared to about half of Asian, Black or Latino students.”


Department of Education delays guidance on TPS expansion

From On EdTech: “The US Department of Education (ED) revised Dear Colleague Letter 23-03 (DCL 23-03) to both extend the period for public commenting and more importantly to delay the effective date. This delays the vast expansion of which organizations will be considered third-party servicers (TPSs) and potentially will allow ED a way out of this mess. … Most importantly, this means that schools no longer have to report what they consider contracts with TPSs by May 1, 2023. Schools now have until September 1, 2023. This should give time for public comment and debate to occur before schools need to commit to their reports. Regarding the public comment period, it no longer closes March 17, 2023; it now closes in 30 days, on March 30, 2023.”


Essay mills ‘under threat from rise of ChatGPT’

From Times Higher Education: “The emergence of chatbots and other writing tools powered by artificial intelligence may pose a far greater threat to the future of essay mills than legislation has proved to be, experts said. There are early signs that firms which specialise in selling assignments are already having to shift their business models in the face of more students using the likes of ChatGPT to generate answers of a similar or better quality to what they may have been tempted to buy previously.”


As colleges focus on quality in online learning, advocates ask: What about in-person courses?

From The Chronicle of Higher Education: “As colleges’ online catalogs grow, so too has the push to develop standards of quality for those courses. But are in-person classes getting the same attention? … When accreditors ask institutions to prove that all of their courses are equally rigorous, colleges’ interpretation of that instruction has often been to ‘show that online courses are up to the standard of’ in-person courses, ‘not the other way around’ … A reported 38 percent of in-person courses have no quality-assurance standards to meet, according to a survey of more than 300 chief online officers by Quality Matters … That compares with 17 percent of online synchronous courses and 5 percent of online asynchronous courses.”


U.S. gun violence raises safety concerns for foreign students

From The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Two students from China were among five students critically injured in a mass shooting at Michigan State University, reviving concerns that American gun violence could deter international students from wanting to come to the United States. … A survey by World Education Services, a nonprofit international-education research company, found that two in five international students were worried about gun violence in the United States. A quarter of the students surveyed said they were worried about the possibility of gun violence on their campus.”


In UK Education News

Oxford and Cambridge ban ChatGPT over plagiarism fears

From University World News: “Eight out of 24 of the elite Russell Group universities have informed students that using the AI bot for assignments will count as academic misconduct, including Manchester, Bristol, Edinburgh and Oxbridge. Dozens of other universities across the country, including Durham, Liverpool and Northampton, are scrambling to review their plagiarism policies in time for this year’s assessments, after ChatGPT exploded onto the scene in November.”


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