Education Industry Reporter

One More Set of College Rankings

Posted in College Rankings, Humor

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

While we try and keep it fairly informative here at Eduction Industry Reporter (EIR), I thought this set of college rankings – from TheOnion – was worth passing on.  With all the categories out there (i.e. Best National College, Best Party College, Best Campus Food) and all the groups doing rankings, it seems pretty reasonable for the “Nation’s Parents” to release a top 50 “perfectly good” state colleges and universities.  As you might imagine, the list “includes dozens of totally fine schools where students can learn all the same things they’d learn at one of those expensive colleges on the East Coast.”

Department of Education Extends CDR Relief to Schools With Borrowers Facing “Split Servicing”

Posted in Cohort Default Rate, Department of Education, Education Data & Statistics, Higher Education News

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

In advance of the release of the official FY2011 Cohort Default Rate (CDR) data, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced that the Department has “adjusted how it calculates CDRs for any institution that otherwise would have been subject to potential loss of eligibility with the release of the FY 2011 rates.”  The Department, in response to the increased “incidence of borrowers with loans held by multiple lenders and serviced by more than one servicer” (“Split Servicing”) attempted to remove any penalty to institutions occasioned by Split Servicing.  The Department explained:

The adjustment to the calculation excludes from the CDR numerator certain borrowers who defaulted on a loan but who had one or more other Direct or FFEL Program loans in a repayment, deferment, or forbearance status for at least 60 consecutive days and that did not default during the applicable CDR monitoring period. The 60 consecutive days must have been between the date the loan on which the borrower defaulted entered repayment and the date when the borrower defaulted on that loan.  A borrower was only excluded from a CDR numerator if there were one or more non-defaulted loans that met the above criteria for each of a borrower’s defaulted loans.

The Department has made these Split Servicing adjustments for all “three of the most recent official three-year official CDRs (FY 2009, FY2010, FY2011) for any institution that otherwise would have been subject to potential loss of eligibility with the release of the FY 2011 CDRs.”  While these adjustments apparently allowed institutions that would have lost Title IV eligibility due to high CDRs, it is not apparent just how many institutions were effected or what type of institutions most benefited.

This adjustment – which is seen as a boost for two-year colleges – will become less meaningful over time.  This is because the loans relevant to the CDR calculation are increasingly comprised of loans serviced by one Federal loan servicer.  Thus it is doubtful whether this adjustment will be provided in future years, or whether any such adjustment will have a positive effect for institutions.

Cohort Default Rates Decrease; Proprietary School Default Rates Decrease for Third Straight Year

Posted in Cohort Default Rate, Department of Education, Education Data & Statistics, Higher Education News

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

Earlier today the U.S. Department of Education (Department) released the official three-year Cohort Default Rates (CDRs) for FY 2011.  For the uninitiated, this is a measure of the number of students entering repayment in FY 2011 (entering repayment between October 1, 2010 and September 30, 2011)  that defaulted on their loans (experienced 270 or more days of delinquency on their loan payments). Previously, the Department utilized a two-year CDR metric and merely published three-year CDRs for information purposes.  Of course, if an institution’s 3-year CDR exceed 30% for three consecutive years (or exceeds 40% in any one year), that institution is no longer eligible for Title IV.

As the chart below shows, the CDR has gone down from last year’s 14.7% mark to 13.7%.  Importantly, each school group – save for the 43 private non-profit 2-year colleges — have improved on the previous years’ CDR.   Also, proprietary schools have accomplished their third straight year of declining 3-year CDRs – and have seen CDRs fall from 22.7% in FY2009 to 19.1% in FY2011.

(Click to Enlarge)

It is also interesting that the highest default group remains the 2-year and 2-3 year colleges no matter the sector (public, private non-profit or proprietary).  I would be interested in hearing explanations for this discrepancy and, in particular, why 2-3 years schools have such high default rates.  Indeed, public 2-3 year schools actually have higher default rates than their proprietary peers.  What is it about those schools that make them so susceptible to higher default rates?

Of course, any schools suffering loss of Title IV due to high default rates (there were 21 schools subject to this sanction this year) may appeal for a host of reasons.  The deadlines for doing so are very short – and institutions must advise the Department of the intent to appeal within five business days after the official CDRs are released to the public.

Department of Education Releases Updated Gainful Employment Template

Posted in Department of Education, Gainful Employment

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

While higher education waits for the final version of the gainful employment rule, the U.S. Department of Education recently released an updated template for disclosures required under the existing gainful employment rule.  Institutions must, no later than January 31, 2015, update the disclosures for each of their GE programs to reflect the 2013-2014 award year using the updated disclosure template.

The Department’s release explains that the updated GE Disclosure Template:

  • Provides the institution name on the output screens;
  • Includes an option for “graduate certificate” as a credential level;
  • Has improved printing capability;
  • Allows institutions with programs of different lengths, but the same CIP code and credential level, to use the bulk upload tool;
  • Contains an updated list of standard occupational classification (SOC) codes that institutions may identify as associated with the program;
  • Contains improved skip logic for programs with fewer than 10 program completers;
  • Ensures that the output document will be accessible to individuals with disabilities (i.e., compliant with section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act); and
  • Provides optional context boxes for the institution to provide additional explanations and clarifications.

 

A Look at Higher Education Bills in the House of Representatives

Posted in Higher Education News, Higher Education Policy, News from the Hill, Uncategorized

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

The House of Representatives has seen a lot of action on the higher education front this year.  Not only has Committee on Education and the Workforce (Ed and Workforce) Chairman John Kline passed a number of bills out of committee that were ultimately passed by the House, but there has been a flurry of other activity in the lower chamber.  Indeed, in addition to “Expanding Opportunity in America,” a proposal put forth by Budget Chairman Paul Ryan that has a number of higher education proposals (and was discussed in our Education Alert last week), the House has seen a broad number of bills to address a host of higher education issues.

The following bills have passed the House:

Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act – H.R. 3136

On September 19, 2013, Representative Matt Salmon (R-AZ) introduced the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act to the House. The bill passed the House on July 23, 2014 by a vote of 414 to 0, and enjoyed 10 bi-partisan co-sponsors (including Ed and Workforce Chairman John Kline and Ranking Member George Miller).  The bill would create a competency-based education initiative.  Specifically, the bill would

  • Implement competency-based education demonstration projects at up to 20 volunteer institutions.
  • For the pilot programs, allow the Secretary of Education to waive current statutory and regulatory requirements (i.e. seat time and credit hours) to receive funding
  • Require an annual evaluation of each demonstration project to determine successes and obstacles for competency-based education programs going forward.

Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act – H.R. 4983

On June 26, 2014, higher Education Subcommittee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) introduced the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act to the House. The bill passed the House by a voice vote on July 23, 2014, and enjoyed 16 co-sponsors (including Reps. John Kline and George Miller). The bill would streamline higher education information disclosures and require publication of those disclosures via one College Dashboard website.

Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act – H.R. 4984

On June 26, 2014, Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) introduced the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act to the House. The bill passed the House on July 24, 2014 by a vote of 405-11, and enjoyed 16 co-sponsors (including Reps. John Kline and George Miller).  The bill would:

  • Ensure yearly interactive counseling for all borrowers (not just first-time borrowers) tailored to their individual borrowing circumstances. Counseling can be either online or in-person to suit the borrower’s needs.
  • Require borrowers to consent each year before receiving federal student loans.
  • Require annual counseling about Pell Grant program.
  • Create a consumer-tested, online counseling tool for institutions to act through when providing counseling.
  • Remove “sample information showing the average” from borrowing explanations, and replace with info based on the borrowers actual outstanding balance.

In addition, the following bills have also been introduced in the House: Continue Reading

New Jersey to Consider Price Caps on Higher Education

Posted in Financial Issues, Higher Education News, Higher Education Policy

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

There are many possible responses to the problem of the increasing cost of higher education.  Once such response is to impose price controls on colleges and universities.  Last week, the committe on higher education in the New Jersey Assembly voted 6-0 (with 2 abstentions) to approve a bill (A2807) that would prohibit all four-year colleges and universities — public and private (except for Princeton University) — “from raising the tuition of undergraduate students who are from New Jersey for nine continuous semesters after they enroll.”

The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Joseph Cryan (D-Union), would except Princeton University (or any institution with an endowment of $1 billion or more) from coverage.  In addition, “students who take a leave of absence of more than one year would have to pay the new tuition rate.”

An article on the measure notes that a number of representatives of college an universities opposed the measure.  Indeed, “Michael Klein, executive director of New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities, said a tuition freeze could hurt schools’ bond ratings, making it more expensive to borrow money. And he said the state bears responsibility for continually underfunding higher education.”

For the bill to become law, it must pass the New Jersey Assembly and Senate, and then be signed by the Governor.

More on the Higher Education Legislative Proposals from the Senate

Posted in Higher Education News, Higher Education Policy, News from the Hill

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

Continuing in our series of reviews of higher education bills that may be influencing the upcoming Higher Education Act reauthorization.  Please be sure and look at the first part in our review of bills, and the Alert we distributed last week that kicked this series off.

Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act – H.R. 4612 / S. 1904

On January 9, 2014, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act of 2013 (Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) introduced a related bill to the House on May 8, 2014.) In a move to encourage innovation, this bill would allow states – through an agreement with the Secretary of Education – to create alternative accreditation process for institutions of higher learning.  Like currently existing forms of accreditation, state-created accreditation processes would be a gateway to Title IV participation by the accredited institution.

Importantly, these new alternative accreditators could confer accredited status on, among other things, any “postsecondary education course or program offered at an institution of postsecondary education, a nonprofit organization, or a for-profit organization or business” so long as the “entity provides credit that will apply toward a postsecondary certification, credential, or degree.”  In sum, companies like StraighterLine and the various MOOCs in existence can become Title IV eligible.

CREATE Graduates Act – S. 2506

On June 19, 2014, Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) introduced the Correctly Recognizing Educational Achievements to Empower (CREATE) Graduates Act to the Senate. The bill would:

  • Authorize grant funding to institutions that will locate and award degrees to former students in the workforce who have enough accumulated education credits for an associate’s degree, but  never received one
  • Provide outreach to students within 12 credits of obtaining an associate’s degree and implement procedures to help future students receive degree audits and other important information about graduation requirements.
  • Establish partnerships between 2-year and 4-year institutions to help students transition into a bachelor degree program after earning an associates degree.

Student Right to Know Before you Go Act – S. 915 / H.R. 1937

On May 9, 2013, Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), introduced the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act to both houses of Congress. The bill would provide for more accurate and complete data on student retention, graduation, and earnings outcomes at all levels of postsecondary enrollment. To accomplish this, the bill would, among other things:

  • “Replace existing IPEDS reporting requirements with a state-based and individual-level system which excludes any personally-identifiable data.”
  • Require the new data systems to match individual transcript data to post-graduation employment and earnings outcomes
  • Further support a federal Statewide Longitudinal Data System
  • Make the data system – which would be disaggregated and not include personally-identifiable data – available for research.

Creating Higher Education Affordability Necessary to Compete Economically Act – S.2374 / H.R. 4902

On May 21, 2014, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) introduced the Creating Higher Education Affordability Necessary to Compete Economically Act. (Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) introduced an identical bill to the House on June 19, 2014.)  The bill would:

  • Increase maximum Federal Pell Grant for 2014-2015 academic year, and award additional Pell Grants to students who have already received the grant.
  • Raises the period in which students may receive Pell Grant funding from 12 semesters to 15 semesters.

 

Senators Harkin and Merkley Introduce “Protecting Students from Worthless Degrees Act”

Posted in Higher Education News, Higher Education Policy, Marketing and Recruiting, News from the Hill, State Authorization

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

As part of our review of currently pending higher education legislation, we wanted to let you know about a recently introduced bill that was introduced after the release of our Education Services Alert last week.  On September 19, 2014, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the “Protecting Students from Worthless Degrees Act,” which is designed to “crack down on worthless degrees peddled by unscrupulous academic institutions.”  Although the bill text was not immediately available, it is likely that the bill would closely resemble a bill introduced by Senators Harkin and Merkley (and Senator Barbara Mikulski) under the same name in 2012.

In short, the bill would require that institutions offering programs that lead to licensure or the ability to sit for a licensure exam to meet the standards to allow graduates to obtain such licensure in the state in which the institution is operating – including obtaining any programmatic accreditation.  Additionally, the institution must disclose to any potential student if the program does not qualify a graudate to obtain licensure or sit for a licensure exam in a state in which the student is located.

 

Our Thoughts on the Current Higher Education Legislative Proposals

Posted in Higher Education News, Higher Education Policy, News from the Hill

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

Late last week we released an Alert entitled,”Congress and the Higher Education Act: what’s on the table? What’s to come? Our look at the major proposals,” which summarizes our views on where things stand legislatively in higher education.   In it we try to do some trend spotting while summarizing the various bills out there dealing with higher education, as well as review the proposal from Budget Committee Charmian Paul Ryan, who issue a detailed paper on his proposed reforms, albeit not in formally introduced legislative language.

There is a lot out there and as you would imagine, we had to condense things a bit.  As a result, we will be releasing our somewhat longer summaries on the blog, in case you are interested. Today, we turn our attention to two Senate bills — also recently discussed by American Council on Education Senior VP for Government Relations, Terry Hartle — one from the outgoing Chairman of the Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) and one from the current Ranking Member of that committee – who will likely be the Chairman is the Republicans take control of the Senate.  Continue Reading

September 5 Deadline to Sign New MOU for Department of Defense Tuition Assistance Programs

Posted in Higher Education News, Military Education

Larry LevinsonCONTRIBUTED BY
Patricia V. Edelson

On May 15, 2014, the Department of Defense (“DoD”) published to the Federal Register Change 2, DoD Instruction 1322.25   “Voluntary Education Programs,” that establishes policy stating the eligibility criteria for tuition assistance (“TA”) and the requirement for a memorandum of understanding (“MOU”) from all educational institutions providing educational programs through the DoD TA Program.

Change 3 to the DoD Instruction 1322.25, “Voluntary Education Programs,” was issued on July 7, 2014. Change 3 requires aLL educational institutions to sign the DoD MOU by 11:59 p.m. EST on September 05, 2014. If you have already signed the May 23rd version of the DoD MOU you must acknowledge the Change 3 revision by signing a certification statement acknowledging that you have reviewed Change 3 and accept all modified terms of the agreement.

The program is designed to improve oversight of the educational programs offered to our service members and their families by establishing new uniform rules that ensure a quality DoD’s Tuition Assistance Program to increase protections to service members and their families through an enhanced MOU partnership with educational institutions. The initiative is part of the president’s Executive Order for Principles of Excellence released April 27, 2012.

The Executive Order stated that we owe the same obligations to this generation of service men and women as was afforded previous one under the GI Bill. This is the promise of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 (title V, Public Law 110-252) (“Post-9/11 GI Bill”) and the continued provision of educational benefits in the DoD’s TA to provide our service members, veterans, spouses, and other family members the opportunity to pursue a high-quality education and gain the skills and training they need to fill the jobs of tomorrow.

DoD policy requires educational institutions that wish to participate in the DoD TA program to sign an MOU conveying the commitments and agreements between the educational institution and DoD prior to an educational institution receiving funds from a service’s TA program. The memorandum can be found at www.dodmou.com.  The TA program provides opportunities for service members to realize their educational goals but includes oversight of taxpayer dollars. Continue Reading