Dept. of Ed Releases College Affordability and Transparency Lists

The updated lists highlight institutions with the highest and lowest tuition prices, and institutions whose costs are rising at the fastest rates.

Oregon Lawmakers Roll Out 'Pay it Forward, Pay it Back' Plan

The Oregon state legislature has unanimously approved a plan to provide free tuition to those students attending a community college or public university. In return, students will pay back the state with a percentage of their incomes after graduation. The state's Higher Education Coordinating Commission will develop a pilot program and lawmakers will decide whether to implement the program in 2015.

San Diego State Holds Rainbow Flag-Raising Ceremony

To show its support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities on campus, the university recently held its fourth annual Rainbow Flag-Raising Ceremony. The university offers a minor in LGBT studies and has announced plans for a new LGBT studies major next spring.

Student Loan Rates Double

With no action by Congress to prevent the increase on July 1, the interest rate for federally subsidized Stafford loans for undergraduates has doubled from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. Congress may act later this month to reverse the increase.

U Mississippi Turns Racial Incident into Teachable Moment

After a Mitt Romney rally led by University of Mississippi students last November turned racial, assistant to the chancellor for multicultural affairs Donald Cole recently turned the incident into a teaching moment. Cole, who himself experienced discrimination as a student at the university, addressed the emotions and concerns surrounding the rally head on with this fall's 120 incoming freshmen and their parents. "The idea again is that learned men show their differences by rhetoric, show their differences by persuasive arguments," the NPR story quotes Cole saying during his speech. "Learned men don't fight."

A Guide to the Supreme Court Decision on Affirmative Action

In Fisher v. University of Texas, the justices sent an affirmative action case concerning the university’s program to achieve racial diversity back to the lower courts for further consideration under a tougher standard of review. The New York Times breaks down the opinion of the court here.

Rutgers U Debuts Future Scholars Program

The university has partnered with New Jersey school districts to prepare economically underprivileged students for college.

SUNY Fredonia Names Chief Diversity Officer

Dr. William A. Boerner, Ed.D., former assistant director of Housing and Residence Education at Morehead State University, will collaborate with faculty, staff and students to build consensus on diversity-related efforts, and develop programs that promote recruitment, retention and equitable treatment of a diverse population of students, faculty, and staff.

U Washington Approves Diversity Graduation Requirement

The student-led effort will require all undergraduates to complete three credits of coursework that focus on the sociocultural, political and economic diversity of human experience at local, regional or global scales.

President Obama Gathers Students to Address College Affordability

With student loan interest rates set to double on July 1 from the current 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, President Obama recently hosted students and graduates at the White House to discuss his plan to prevent rates from going up.

Harford CC Board Approves Cultural Diversity Plan

The plan includes a school process for reporting hate crimes committed on campus, embracing diversity on campus, and closing attainment gaps based on income, race, gender and ethnicity.

Strayer U Announces 'Graduation Fund,' Tuition Freeze

For every three classes a new student successfully completes, the university will place a tuition award in their Graduation Fund to cover the cost of one future class. The university has also announced a tuition freeze for currently enrolled students, and no tuition increases for 2014.

U California Santa Barbara Students Address Diversity, Safety

The Associated Students Office of the President recently held a town hall meeting to address diversity, representation and marginalization in the campus community. The "Raise Your Voice!" event provided an open forum for students to address university administration about university-wide policies regarding issues of sexual violence, and retention and recruitment aimed at promoting diversity.

Winona State U Student Initiates Campus Diversity Center

Spearheaded by graduating senior Jake Hite, the KEAP (Knowledge, Empowerment, Advocacy and Pluralism) Diversity Center for students, faculty and staff will help address issues surrounding diverse populations in the campus community.

Purdue U Students to Spend Summer on Diversity, Inclusion Efforts

The students will work on fostering an open dialogue on race, gender equality and religious tolerance on campus with programs for incoming freshman and a diversity week in the fall with workshops for students and staff.

3 Canadian Universities Partner for Global Education Initiative

(Canada): McGill University, the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto have partnered with the MasterCard Foundation to educate African students. Over the next 10 years, the foundation will provide the universities with $25 million each to pay for students’ tuition and living expenses, and create internship opportunities in Africa.

U Michigan Diversity Resolution Passes Assembly

The Senate Assembly voted to approve a resolution that would increase efforts to promote inclusivity. The goals of the four-part resolution include reassessment of the strategies used to increase diversity, adoption of active, intentional, creative and ongoing efforts to improve diversity, assurance that diversity efforts are woven into the university’s fabric, and publicly asserting the goal of improving diversity on all three university campuses.

Obama’s Proposed Budget Aims to Increase College Affordability

President Obama’s proposed budget for the 2014 fiscal year includes several measures to increase student financial aid and college affordability. The budget calls for market-based student loan rates that would stay fixed for the loan's lifetime. The plan also includes a “Pay as You Go” measure, allowing students to pay no more than 10 percent of their discretionary income. Moreover, any outstanding debt after 20 years of payment would be forgiven.

San Diego State U LGBT Student Union to Receive Diversity Award

The LGBT Student Union has been selected to receive the school’s annual “Diversity Award,” a top honor that reflects the organization’s commitment to inclusion on campus and in the community.

Aspen Prize Honors Two Community Colleges

The Aspen Institute has awarded this year’s Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence to Santa Barbara City College and Walla Walla Community College. The Aspen Prize was designed to recognize community colleges with strong records of preparing students for jobs or transfer to four-year colleges, as well as attracting and graduating low-income and minority students.

Robert Morris U Launches a Textbook Reserve to Help Students

The university debuted a textbook reserve program in the fall of 2012 after a student-led survey revealed that 14 percent of students surveyed knew at least one student who dropped out of school because they could not afford to purchase textbooks. The university spent approximately $10,500 to purchase 170 textbooks for the most in-demand courses on campus and place them on reserve in the library for student use. More than 850 students have made use of the reserve program, saving an estimated $300 each semester.

Supreme Court Takes New Case on Affirmative Action

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a second case involving affirmative action in higher education. In October, the justices heard arguments in a case dealing with the University of Texas’ race-conscious admissions program. This one, from Michigan, tests whether voters, by referendum, can bar affirmative action programs in higher education.

National Hispanic U Partnership to Expand Access to Higher Ed

(U.S.): The university and StraighterLine have announced an agreement that will enable students to transfer American Council on Education courses for credit at the university. The transfer agreement is part of the university’s mission to support greater access to higher education.

Oregon Moves to In-State Tuition for Undocumented Students

(U.S.): The Senate has joined the House of Representatives in approving a bill that would grant in-state tuition rates to undocumented Oregon high school graduates.

Colorado Approves In-State Tuition for Immigrant Students

The governor of Colorado is expected to sign into law a bill, passed by the state’s House of Representatives, that would allow students who entered the United States illegally to pay in-state tuition at Colorado’s public colleges. Currently, these students must pay the higher rate for nonresidents.

College Presidents Urge Colleagues to Push for Immigration Reform

The presidents of Cornell University, Arizona State University, and Miami Dade College have sent a letter to more than 1,200 of their colleagues, urging them to join an effort to reform immigration laws that limit colleges’ ability to educate and to innovate. Particularly in the STEM fields, American colleges “train many of the brightest minds of the world,” they write, “only to have those students sent abroad to compete against us because our immigration laws do not provide a viable path for them to stay.” In their letter, the three leaders call attention to the plight of foreign-born students who “arrived in our country as children but are prevented from attending college because of their undocumented status.” By denying such young people access to higher education, they write, “we deny our country the talent we very much need.”

Emory U Releases Report to Help Build Inclusive Community

A Campus Life committee has released the “Campus Life Compact for Building an Inclusive Community at Emory," a student-driven report that outlines a framework and a strategic plan that is designed to guide campus dialogue around issues of social justice.. The report consists of a comprehensive list of recommendations that focus on the need to improve inclusion and address issues of diversity within the campus community.

Indiana Passes Bill to Promote Transfer of CC Credits

The Indiana Senate has passed a bill that will make it easier for students to transfer to four-year universities or colleges and keep all the credits they’ve earned through an associate’s degree. The bill requires that the state’s four-year schools accept an associate’s degree from another state school as two years worth of classes – as long as student majors will be in related fields.

Northwestern U Council Proposes Diversity Requirement

Following six months of collaboration between administrators, students and faculty members, the Diversity Council has formulated a proposal for a university-wide diversity requirement for undergraduate students. The Social Inequalities and Diversities requirement, recommended for implementation in fall 2015, would include an academic curricular component and a discussion-based activity completed outside the classroom.

Purdue U Institutes Two Year Tuition Freeze

In an effort to make education more affordable and accessible, the university has announced that it will institute a two-year freeze on tuition and most fees at the West Lafayette campus. “In this period of national economic stagnation, it’s time for us to hit the pause button on tuition increases. Our students and their families deserve a high-value education that they can afford,” said President Mitch Daniels.

French Universities Sign Gender Equality Charter

(France): French government ministers and organizations representing 300 higher education institutions signed the Charter for Equality of Women and Men. Gender parity in university governance, teaching and training on gender equality for students and university personnel, and promoting research into gender are among the ratified measures.

Indian Institutes of Management Push Gender Diversity on Campus

(India): The Indian Institutes of Management at Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and Calcutta have begun an initiative to increase gender diversity on campus. The number of women accepted into the admission process has increased from 15.9 percent to nearly 25 percent since 2012. Incentives for female candidates have also been created including awarding them points in the admission process.

U Louisiana System Offers Degree Completion Program

(U.S.): The University of Louisiana System has created a new two-year online bachelor's degree program for adults who previously earned 60 credit hours before leaving college. The program is an initiative to provide access to 600,000 Louisiana residents who have college credits but no degree.

Corning CC Creates Center for Diversity and Inclusion

The college has created the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, a space that will be used to conduct diversity workshops, show films, and provide meeting space for student groups focused on diversity.

NY Times Transgender Coverage On the Rise in College Health Plans

A growing number of colleges have begun offering student health insurance plans with coverage for gender reassignment surgery and related hormone therapy, reports a recent New York Times article. According to the article, because the issue directly affects a small number of students, “universities recognize that their insurance plan sends a signal to the much larger number of students for whom the rights of transgender people have taken a place alongside gay rights as a cause that matters.”

President Obama Unveils Changes to Higher Ed Policy

“Colleges must do their part to keep their costs down, and it’s our job to make sure they do,” President Obama said in his annual State of the Union Address. “Tonight, I ask Congress to change the Higher Education Act, so that affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid.” He also said his administration would release "a new 'College Scorecard' that parents and students can use to compare schools based on a simple criterion—where you can get the most bang for your educational buck."

U Maryland Debuts New Diversity Campaign

The university has launched Rise Above, a new diversity campaign to encourage the campus community to rise above prejudices, intolerance and discrimination. The campaign will award grants of up to $750 for campus initiatives that promote on-campus diversity and cultural acceptance through communication. The campaign’s mission will be publicized through buttons, tabling and fliers. The cost for the campaign is estimated at $10,000 over the 2013-2014 school year, and officials have set aside $20,000 for grants.

23 Florida Colleges Accept $10,000 Degree Challenge

Twenty-three Florida public colleges and universities have accepted Governor Rick Scott’s “$10,000 Degree Challenge,” as part of a higher education affordability agenda. Participating schools will offer at least one degree at a total cost of $10,000.

U Montana Hires Native Americans, Increases Faculty Diversity

(U.S.): As part of its effort to increase faculty diversity, the university recently hired four Native American professors to tenure-track positions. More than a dozen American Indians representing several tribes now hold academic positions. While not all are on track for tenure, those tracking the university’s push for diversity are pleased with the progress.

Delta College Student Food Pantry Earns Equity in Education Award

The Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers’ Equity in Education Committee has granted the 2012 Equity in Education Award to the college for its food pantry. The food pantry was recognized for its efforts to eliminate hunger as a barrier to student success.

Long Beach City College to Improve Graduation Rates for Latinos

The college, in partnership with Cal State Long Beach and the Long Beach Unified School, has launched a new program designed to improve success for Latinos in higher education. The Latino Student Success Institute will host nine learning sessions for community organizations that are interested in participating. Participants will receive a certificate in Latino cultural competency from the college's Center for Training and Professional Development.

Princeton U to Examine College Access for Lower-Income Students

A new university committee will examine strategies to help low-income students overcome barriers to college readiness and access. The Trustee Ad Hoc Committee on College Access will consider a range of factors, beyond just financial means, that may impede low-income students from pursuing an education at selective universities and colleges.

Private College Presidents Urge a Commitment to Need-Based Aid

A group of private-college presidents have unveiled a pledge publicly opposing the rising use of merit-based financial aid and the decline in need-based aid at the Council of Independent Colleges’ annual Presidents Institute. The statement emerges amid concerns among some administrators that the increased competition among colleges for enrollment has led to more resources going into "merit based" aid for top students, many of whom don't require financial aid to afford college, and to a decline in "need-based" aid for promising lower-income students.

U Nebraska, Nebraska State Colleges Agree to Tuition Freeze

The University of Nebraska and the Nebraska State College systems have agreed to implement a two-year tuition freeze for students. As a result, Governor Dave Heineman will propose to the legislature that state funding for the University of Nebraska system increase from $498 million to $541 million and that the state appropriation for the Nebraska State College System increase from $45.5 million to $49.6 million.

Millersville U Creates Campus Cupboard

(U.S.): The university and Campus Ministerium have developed a campus food bank to address concerns for hunger and nutrition among students.

U Iowa Adds Transgender Choice to Undergraduate Applications

(U.S.): The university has announced the addition of an optional question on sexual orientation, and a transgender choice under gender, as part of an effort to extend a welcoming signal to all students and to gather information about the institution's success at attracting and retaining LGBTQ students.

U New Mexico Plans International Program to Increase Diversity

The university has announced plans to offer study abroad programs for international students from Tec de Monterrey (Mexico) in an effort to increase diversity on campus.

Westminster College Receives Grant to Renew Diversity Program

The college’s McNair Scholars Program has been renewed for another five years upon receiving a $1.15 million U.S. Department of Education grant. The program aims to increase diversity in higher education by helping students from underrepresented groups attain a college education.

U Mississippi Food Bank Caters to Students in Need

The university has opened an on-campus food bank to provide access to meals for students in need, focusing on the overall health and well being of the campus community. The student-led initiative was made possible through financial donations and food drives.

Valdosta State U Recognized for Adult Learning Success

The university has been recognized by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning for its efforts to improve access and college completion for adults. The university has established the office of Adult and Military Programs to improve degree completion for adult learners with particular attention to members of the military and veterans.