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Putting College within Reach

by Jane on Oct 23rd, 2009

The College Board released a report Tuesday, Trends in College Pricing — and the trend, unsurprisingly, continues a decades-long climb upward. Published tuition and fees at public 4-year colleges rose by an average of 6.5% since last year, from $6,591/year to $7,020.  The increase was 4.4% at private colleges, from $25,177 to $26,273. Click to enlarge an illustration of growth over time, from 94-95 to 09-10:
graph

As you can see in the chart, there is some good news.  Net costs — what students actually end up paying, once financial aid is taken into account — declined over the past five years, but as the report’s authors remind us, assessing the impact of the changing cost of college involves weighing a number of factors:

In considering the impact of price increases, it is accumulated patterns, not one-year changes, that determine current charges. Relatively low prices may rise rapidly in percentage terms without causing significant difficulties, while even freezing high prices does not put them within reach of the typical student. Current prices and dollar increases, not percentage increases, best measure the impact on students and families.

In other words, though the net cost of college has decreased slightly, that price drop hasn’t happened in a vacuum.  It’s happened in the midst of an economic crisis that is stretching students and their families to the limit.

Last fall, we covered the rising cost of college in a 2-part report for The NewsHour, investigating both the challenges of paying for a bachelor’s degree and the underlying reasons behind the upward trend in pricing.

While producing that report we heard from students, over and over, that the cost of college and the crippling debt that many times ensued is worth it, because alternative routes to solid careers have disappeared.  One senior told told us, “I think that it becomes a sort of standard practice to just accept the fact that, if you want to get what you want out of life, you’re going to have to be in debt.” And if students will pay, there’s not much incentive for colleges to stop increasing tuition and fees.

I invite you to revisit the segments, and share your thoughts…


Paying for College, Drowning in Debt [Learning Matters for The NewsHour, aired 12/08/08]


The Costs for Colleges [Learning Matters for The NewsHour, aired 12/09/08]

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Around-the-web Wednesdays: Duncan on Colbert, and more

by Amanda on Oct 7th, 2009

Here are some stories worth sharing this week:

The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Arne Duncan
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Michael Moore

Will it take Comedy Central’s coverage for the US to take education reform seriously? Or is everyone just infatuated with the idea of playing basketball with President Obama? If you missed it, click above to watch Arne Duncan on Colbert Nation. [Colbert Report, 10/5/09]

Race to the Top was formally announced this week and Secretary Duncan put the call out for applicants to “show us their best evidence that their programs will boost student learning.” With $650 million to spend, the administration is literally banking on innovation. [NY Times, 10/6/09]

Secretary Duncan’s attention was temporarily diverted back to his old hometown, Chicago, where he and Attorney General Eric Holder appeared in solidarity with a community outraged by the recent death of a high school student by a group of youths outside a community center. [NPR, 10/7/09]

In higher ed news, the Senate is holding hearings on a measure to increase the maximum Pell grant amount - currently $5,350. The House recently passed the measure. [Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/6/09]

In Washington, D.C., recent layoffs of over 220 teachers — including one ‘exceptional’ teacher from Anacostia, a high school we’ve been covering for the past two years– has the community up in arms and Chancellor Michelle Rhee defending her tough choices. [Washington Post, 10/6/09]

Rhee and the D.C. teachers union have yet to sign a contract after two years of negotiations - a fascinating dance you can listen to here. [LMTV, 9/21/09]

A new U.S. Census Bureau shows how Latina moms are changing the perception of the nation’s stay-at-home mothers. [NPR, 10/6/09]

And in commentary this week, John Merrow asks: How does geography determine one’s digital destiny? Should schools be doing more? [Taking Note, 10/6/09]

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An end to student debt?

by Elena on Sep 17th, 2009

representative_george_miller1

Gail Collins has an op-ed piece in the New York Times today on student loan reform, worth reading for content and for her sassy-snarky delivery. Collins makes fun of Congress for comparing student loan reform to health care reform, when the student loan bill is quite uncomplicated and common-sensical. It seems like the bill will eventually pass; when it does, the federal government will loan money directly to student borrowers, and the terms of the loans will go easier on low-income students and their families.

This spring, we reported on the sad facts of paying for college for the NewsHour–check out those stories and the Collins piece below. We especially like the quotes Collins includes from George Miller, chairman of the Education and Labor committee in Congress: “Before, we never had the horses to do it,” he says about loan reform, and, “We’ve come up with a lot of gibberish,” about the other half of the student debt problem–lowering college tuition.

Someday, a bill will pass [New York Times, 9/17/09]

Higher Ed, Higher Costs: The Program (Parts 1 and 2)

categories: Ed Beat, higher ed

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Weekly Round-Up: Role Models, Innovation and ‘The Providence Effect’

by Amanda on Sep 16th, 2009

It’s Wednesday afternoon and time to take a look at the stories we’re following this week.

Above: The Providence Effect screens tonight in NYC. For more info visit: http://www.theprovidenceeffect.com/

As celebrities fall short as roles models, opinion on what that means for our young people [Edutopia 9/16/09, NY Times 9/16/09 ]
Marion Brady, Deborah Meier and others weigh in when John Merrow asks ‘Where’s the Innovation in Education?’ [Taking Note, 9/15/09]
DC appeals to courts to get out of special education obligation [Washington Post, 9/16/09]
In a first, Teachers Union opens a pilot school in Boston [boston.com, 9/10/09]
Texas school district wins 2009 Broad Prize for Urban Education [Houston Chronicle, 9/16/09]

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Micro-lending Student Loans

by Learning Matters on Sep 1st, 2009

In the midst of economic instability and bailouts for large corporations, young people are entering college with no guarantee that the value of their degree will be worth what they paid. Worse yet? Many of them don’t know how they’ll pay it back.

Student DebtStudent debt is rising faster than starting salaries for new graduates. The average debt for the class of 2007 was nearly $19,400 at public colleges and $25,700 at private colleges. According to some reports, average student debt at graduation rose by six percent between 2006 and 2007, while earnings for college graduates 18 to 24 year’s old rose only three percent.

So how can students afford college? Or at the very least enter without the prospect of a life of debt?  Enter peer-to-peer lending. Tweaking the idea made popular by Nobel Peace Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus, new and emerging organizations are creating ways for individuals to lend small amounts of money to students who need it.

Using social networking as a base, GreenNote allows prospective borrowers to create a personal social network so that they may ask for small student loans. GreenNote facilitates the process by “formaliz[ing] everything into legally binding loans and handles all the details from loan documentation through repayment.”

Vittana is a similar, albeit much newer, organization, but its focus is on getting loans to students in the developing world.

These organizations are among a growing number that signal a new, creative approach to student lending–one that may just save an entire generation from owing what many of its predecessors do.

GreenNote
Vittana Foundation

categories: Ed Beat, higher ed

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