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  • Colleges announce commencement speakers January 18 2019
    Harvard University: German chancellor Angela Merkel High Point University: Michio Kaku, the theoretical physicist. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Michael Bloomberg, the philanthropist, executive and former mayor of New York City. University of Notre Dame: Peggy Noonan, columnist for The Wall Street Journal. Editorial Tags: Commencement speakersIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: 
    Ontario cuts tuition by 10 percent while reducing aid spending, raising concerns about effects on low-income students and university budgets January 18 2019
    The Ontario government announced Thursday it would cut tuition fees for domestic students at all public colleges and universities across the province by 10 percent and reduce student aid spending, raising concerns both about the hit universities will take to their bottom lines and the impact of the changes on low-income students, who will no longer be eligible for free tuition. According to the CBC, low-income students who previously could qualify for a grant covering the full cost of tuition will now receive a loan for a portion of their funding. An online calculator for estimating eligibility under the Ontario Student Aid Program shows that a student with a family income of 50,000 Canadian dollars ($37,659) or less would be eligible for about a 50-50 mix of loans versus grants, while students from higher-earning families would receive a higher proportion of funding in loans. In a news release, Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government said it wants to target funding to students who need it most, reducing the family income threshold a student must fall under in order to be eligible for grants and increasing the share of grants going to families with incomes of less than 50,000 Canadian dollars from 76 to 82 percent. Alex Usher, a Toronto-based higher education consultant and frequent commentator on Canadian higher education, said on Twitter that the changes include some he has advocated for, such as not wasting money on grants for high-income students. But he said the problem is that some low-income students are worse off as a result of these changes while students whose families make 170,000 Canadian dollars or more are better off. This is not wholly inaccurate spin. Such OSAP as remains will be more targeted than previously. Fact remains: all students on student aid will be worse off after today; only students not in need of aid (mainly due to high family income) will be better off. — Alex Usher (@AlexUsherHESA) January 17, 2019 Ontario’s minister for training, colleges and universities, Merrilee Fullerton, said in a news conference Thursday that the previous Liberal government had put the OSAP program "on an unsustainable path." She cited a December report from the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario that found the cost of OSAP rose substantially after the government introduced changes in 2017-18 that increased the share of aid that took the form of grants versus loans. The audit found that the cost of aid, mostly in the form of nonrenewable grants, disbursed in the 2017-18 academic year increased 25 percent over the previous year while enrollments rose 2 percent. Fullerton said the government would restore the program to its 2016-17 levels "to ensure that it is both sustainable and available for the students of today, tomorrow, and generations to come." Another change announced by Fullerton Thursday will allow students to opt out of paying certain ancillary fees. Fullerton said that while certain "essential" fees covering things such as health and safety programs and mental health counseling would continue to be mandatory, students could choose to opt out of others. “Starting in September, students will be able to choose which programs and organizations they want to support and be more empowered and informed about their own finances through our Student Choice Initiative,” she said. Fullerton did not reference specific examples of programs that students might opt out of. However, in response to a question from a reporter about whether a student could opt out of paying for a program supporting LGBTQ students, she said there will be some leeway for institutions to determine which fees are essential. Over all, Fullerton framed the changes as intended to put money back in the pockets of students and their families. “This first-of-its-kind, across-the-board tuition reduction will see Ontario students receive a 10 percent savings in their education,” she said. “This reduction means significant savings for students and their families. And for a student attending an Ontario college, they will see a savings of on average of 340 [Canadian dollars] depending on the program,” she said. Fullerton said the total value of tuition relief to students and families across the province equates to 450 million Canadian dollars. Asked if colleges and universities would be reimbursed by the provincial government for the lost tuition, she said she had confidence universities would adapt and find other sources of revenue. She estimated that the lost tuition revenue will account for between 2 and 4 percent of most institutions’ operating budgets. “Universities are autonomous, colleges are relatively independent, and they have funding from other sources and revenues from other sources. And I fully anticipate that they are capable and able to make adjustments,” Fullerton said. She said that there will be no reduction to state operating grants for institutions. Universities protested, however, that without being made whole, the cuts to tuition will negatively affect their teaching. The situation is parallel to state legislatures in the U.S. freezing tuition rates and not making up for the difference in tuition revenue with increases in appropriations -- though in this case Ontario actually reduced tuition rates, as opposed to merely freezing them in place. “Ontario universities share the government’s goal of ensuring that all students who qualify should be able to access a postsecondary opportunity,” David Lindsay, the president and CEO of the Council of Ontario Universities, said in a statement. “However, today’s announcement, cutting domestic tuition fees by 10 percent, will reduce universities’ revenue by 360 million [Canadian dollars] -- and negatively affect their ability to provide the best possible learning experience for students, partner with their communities and help deliver economic and social benefits to the people of Ontario.” Lindsay added, “The current financial situation faced by universities should be viewed in the context of over 16 years of decreased funding. Since 2002-3, operating grants per student, when adjusted for inflation, have decreased by 10.6 percent, which in turn has required universities to fund a greater proportion of their operating costs through tuition fees.” Mitzie Hunter, a member of Ontario's provincial parliament from the Liberal Party and a former minister of advanced education and skills development for Ontario, issued a statement criticizing the policy of the Progressive Conservative government, led by the premier, Doug Ford. “Doug Ford is slashing funding to universities and colleges while adding debt to students across the province -- it’s completely unacceptable,” she said. “Only Doug Ford would introduce a student aid plan that will help the wealthiest students at the expense of those who need help the most. The Ford government tuition cut will benefit only the wealthiest and the government. Because tuition fees will be lowered, the government will be spending less money on tuition fees through OSAP. Needy students will see next to no benefits because under the previous program they were already being provided for. Wealthy students, who never qualified for OSAP in the first place, are being given a 10 percent tuition cut even though they can afford it the most.” The Canadian Federations of Students-Ontario also issued a statement condemning what it described as “a reckless plan for postsecondary education in the province, leaving students in Ontario worse off.” “The Doug Ford government has attempted to spin this announcement as a 10 percent reduction in tuition fees when in reality Ford’s plan will increase out-of-pocket costs for students, diminish the quality of education students receive and undermine crucial student supports on campus,” said Nour Alideeb, the chairperson of the student federation. “The reality of loans-based financial aid programs is that students from low-income families pay more for their education in the long run. This announcement will make life harder for students and their families.” The student federation also raised concerns that the Student Choice Initiative will encourage students to opt out of paying dues to student unions, which the group described as "important and independent organizations that advocate for students’ best interests and provide cost-savings services." The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, an entity representing a group of student associations across Ontario, also issued a statement expressing concern about the impact of the "opt-out" provisions on student organizations. "Student representation, the autonomy of student governments, student media outlets, and services like health and dental plans, clubs systems, student-led programming, transit passes, and peer-support services, could be at risk," the alliance said. "Most student unions’ services, funded through student fees, reduce university and student reliance on government funding. Student unions fill in gaps in programming and services where universities cannot or will not." GlobalEditorial Tags: Business issuesFinancial aidCanadaInternational higher educationTuitionImage Caption: Ontario’s minister for training, colleges and universities, Merrilee Fullerton, announces changes to tuition rates and student aid programs Thursday.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: 
    Enrollment rebounding at City College of San Francisco January 18 2019
    For years City College of San Francisco faced declining enrollments as it weathered budget shortfalls, an accreditation crisis and leadership turnover. It was a positive development when enrollment at the two-year college finally began climbing last year. But it still wasn't enough to stop CCSF administrators from moving forward with a plan to eliminate a third of nearly 1,200 credit courses over the next seven years to help balance the college's budget. College officials are also planning to increase the number of high-demand classes offered, such as accounting, math and English, as part of that process. Administrators aren't certain how many more courses will be added, however. “We are decreasing offerings of some underenrolled classes but also increasing the offerings of in-demand classes,” said Connie Chan, media relations director for the college. “We’re looking into the future and we are staying on track.” Last month, Chancellor Mark Rocha proposed cutting about 400 underenrolled classes over several years. Those classes, ranging from labor relations to ethnic studies, are multiple sections of general education courses that have had fewer than 20 students enrolled in the last six years, according to CCSF data. Rocha wasn’t available for comment, but he told board members in December that the underenrolled “courses over a period of time have to go or else the college cost structure will just be unsustainable.” Those cuts could also help lower an $11 million budget deficit City College is facing this year. CCSF has a $185 million operating budget, but last year was the first time the community college didn’t receive about $35 million in stability funding from the state. That funding had been given to help City College make up the shortfall from the loss of enrollment revenue precipitated by students' uncertainty about CCSF's accreditation status. The enrollment decline began immediately after the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges sanctioned the college for financial and administrative problems. At the time, City College had been running budget deficits for several years and had dipped into its reserves to cover shortfalls. The sanction led to a years-long dispute between the college and the accrediting commission. “We no longer have that large number of full-time-equivalent students,” said Brigitte Davilla, a City College board trustee and a faculty member at San Francisco State University. “But we're growing. We’re trying to keep in mind our budget is much less without stabilization funds.” City College earned back its full accreditation in 2017 after years of uncertainty. But rebuilding hasn’t been easy. When the accreditation crisis occurred in 2012, the overall student head count at City College fell by 12 percent, going from about 83,400 in 2011 to 73,359. Enrollment reached its lowest level in 2016, when just 58,242 students were attending the college, but the number rose to 63,041 students in 2017, the first increase in 10 years. Enrollment at City College has rebounded in part because of the Free City College program started by the college and the City of San Francisco. The pilot program allows city residents to attend the college tuition-free and earn associate degrees or enough class credits to transfer to a four-year college or university, where they will be guaranteed admission. “It’s definitely had an impact and encouraged people to go back to school or to take classes and switch careers,” said Jennifer Worley, president of the City College of San Francisco Federation of Teachers. “So, for sure it has increased enrollment, but we’re still not where we were before the accreditation crisis.” The free-tuition program is set to expire later this year, but voters will decide this fall whether to extend it for 10 years. CCSF is not the only struggling community college to experience increased enrollments after starting free-tuition programs. Morley Winograd, president of the Campaign for Free College Tuition, points to enrollment increases in Tennessee after the state expanded its tuition-free program to include adults last year. Tennessee officials had anticipated 8,000 adult learners would apply for the program. But they received more than 30,000 applications, and nearly 15,000 adult students enrolled. Winograd said Tennessee's experience is an example of how these initiatives can help community colleges rebound. The numbers "suggest expanding the idea to adult learners would actually end any enrollment decline," he said in an email. Free City doesn't have any age restrictions and its message is clear -- it's for San Francisco residents. Mary Rauner, a senior research associate at WestEd, a nonprofit organization that is part of the California College Promise Project, which tracks and provides support for free-tuition programs in the state, said programs that have clear messages about the financial and academic benefits of participating can influence students' decisions about where to go to college, which can lead to enrollment increases. Davilla said CCSF administrators are also expecting more students to enroll as a result of the college's efforts to increase dual enrollment with San Francisco-area high schools, and also because the college added more online classes to its course offerings. "We see a lot of room for growth," she said. Davilla is also optimistic that CCSF's enrollment will return to what it was prior to the accreditation crisis. "We still have enough of a program base that attracts students and enough underserved students to climb back," she said. Chan, the CCSF spokeswoman, said some faculty members may see their workload increase or decrease with the programmatic changes. The college is also hoping to shift faculty members into high-demand courses, such as math and English, for which four-year universities grant transfer credit, she said. Worley said the faculty union disagrees with Rocha’s decision to cut classes. “We want to see the college rebuild enrollment, and if we’re cutting courses, then we’re shrinking the college,” she said. Some faculty members fear the changes City College administrators want to implement may alter the mission of the college. Worley said there has been "a pretty concerted effort" to turn the institution into a junior college focused on increasing access to 18-year-olds so they can transfer to universities. She noted that CCSF already serves young students and the faculty union would be against any changes that limit options for nontraditional students and students in non-credit-bearing courses. “We want to keep robust and diverse course offerings at City College for the entire community.” Community CollegesEditorial Tags: EnrollmentCaliforniaIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: 
    Colleges respond as shutdown creates new cost issues for some students January 18 2019
    The College of Southern Maryland is located about an hour’s drive from Washington, and it’s midway between two U.S. Navy bases. That means the area served by the community college is home to thousands of federal employees -- and the impact of the ongoing federal shutdown on its students is unavoidable, said Maureen Murphy, the college’s president. “The ripple effect is significant. There are very few people who are untouched,” she said. The college is one of a handful of institutions that are offering emergency aid to students who are suddenly facing challenges paying for college because they or their parents are furloughed or not being paid. At the College of Southern Maryland, more than 100 students by last week had taken advantage of options such as deferred payment plans to deal with those unexpected challenges. The Office of Federal Student Aid is unaffected by the government shutdown, so federal student loans and Pell Grants are being disbursed like normal. But for students at institutions like Southern Maryland or others elsewhere who depend on income from the federal government, the shutdown is creating sudden challenges paying for tuition, books and fees that would otherwise be affordable. Many of the students affected are well outside the Beltway and attend colleges across the country. “People believe this is primarily concentrated in the D.C. or Virginia area,” said Dawn Medley, associate vice president for enrollment management at Wayne State University. “There are lots of federal offices all over the United States. People are being affected, and they didn’t know to plan for this.” Detroit, where the Wayne State campus is located, is home to a Delta Airlines hub and a large number of Transportation Security Administration employees in particular. Medley said the university has seen a handful of students drop classes this semester. Wayne State announced emergency aid early in January in the hopes that it could let students know about their options to cover those costs. The university has been offering students deferred payment plans and emergency loans using institutional funds. So far, the campus has extended that aid to about 10 students but expects more to take advantage if the shutdown continues. “We’re working with students coming now who didn’t think it would take that long or thought their parent would be back to work by now,” Medley said. “Every day we’re having new ones pop up.” Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said financial aid offices deal with situations all the time where a parent is laid off during the semester or a family member accumulates unexpected medical debt. The temporary nature of the shutdown makes it a unique circumstance, he said -- federal workers should eventually get paid when the shutdown ends. But it creates uncertainty for their ability to pay for essential costs in the short term. Murphy, from Southern Maryland, said financial aid administrators have seen student parents who are afraid they won’t be able to continue paying for childcare and the cost of classes during the shutdown. “I don't think anybody realizes how thoroughly it disrupts the lives of people who are struggling to get an education,” she said. The college’s winter semester doesn’t begin until next week, meaning it’s tough to tell how enrollment may be affected, but Murphy expects some sort of decline. The college has also tried to assist students in the meantime in applying for state and federal aid. Many have tried updating their federal student aid or FAFSA applications -- an endeavor hindered this month for some students by problems with the IRS website. Other colleges are taking their own steps to help students during the shutdown. Thomas Edison State University in Trenton, N.J., said this week it would cover the tuition for any Coast Guard students enrolled at the college who haven’t received tuition assistance because of the shutdown. The University of Indianapolis said this week it would partner with a local brewery to provide meals to federal workers.  And Southern New Hampshire University announced a $1 million special fund for those without their regular income. Announcing today the creation of a $1m emergency fund for all SNHU students and employees adversely impacted by the federal govt shutdown and furlough. Emails have gone out to the SNHU community. No should be facing hunger or seeing their housing at risk because of broken govt. — Paul LeBlanc (@snhuprez) January 15, 2019 The federal government, meanwhile, issued guidance last week to federal employees who have student loans about what steps to take during the shutdown. Their options, the department said, include postponing payments through a deferment or forbearance. Or they could enroll in an income-driven repayment plan that will lower their monthly payments. Colleen Campbell, associate director of postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress, said the most important step for those borrowers is to call their loan servicer themselves to discuss their situation. “The Department of Education is not telling servicers who is furloughed,” she said. “There are tools in place that should be able to assist furloughed borrowers.” Editorial Tags: Financial aidAd Keyword: Federal shutdownIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Shutdown ImpactTrending order: 2College: College of Southern MarylandWayne State University