College tuition dominated headlines in higher education this month, led by Senator Elizabeth Warren announcing her new plan to cancel student debt and make public colleges free. Additionally, the Washington State legislature sent a bill to Governor (and Presidential candidate) Jay Inslee that would reduce tuition at community colleges and public schools. A majority of young prospective voters support these initiatives, according to a study from Harvard, which shows that 51% of respondents aged 18-29 support free college policies, six points higher than the nation as a whole.
Other news in higher education:
- Robert F. Smith, a billionaire investor who spoke at Morehouse College's spring 2019 commencement, announced that he will donate $40 million to eliminate student loan debt for the school's graduating seniors.
- The Washington Post reports on new data from the U.S. Department of Education, which shows that seven of the 10 schools receiving the most GI Bill tuition money allocate less than a third of those funds to instructional expenses. Six of those schools, including the University of Phoenix, Strayer University, and DeVry University, are for-profit institutions.
- From Inside Higher Ed: Equity in higher education access has entered the conversation about mass incarceration in the U.S., as several advocacy groups push for changing Pell Grant eligibility to include current inmates seeking postsecondary education behind bars.
- Inside Higher Ed also reports that New College of Florida is under fire for an admissions process that flags applications where students discuss their mental health for secondary review, a practice that former admissions employees lambast as unethical and discriminatory.
- Puerto Rican college students are disadvantaged by massive wealth disparity, post-hurricane budget issues, and lack of educational preparation. They are then often excluded from opportunities to study at mainland universities, according to The Hechinger Report.
- From Bloomberg: A study from Student Loan Planner finds that one in 15 graduates with student loan debt have contemplated suicide. The study also found that these numbers increase as the total student loan debt a person holds rises, an especially troubling trend given that the average total debt per student continues to grow.
- A new study using data from the National Center for Educational Statistics found that more black and Latinx students drop out or switch out of STEM programs than white students, despite similar levels of interest and academic ability, per The Washington Post.
- Bloomberg reports that a new study shows recent grads from business administration programs are making less money compared to the cost of their degree than they were 10 years ago, with earnings-to-tuition ratios in decline across flagship business schools. See also: Reece Johnson discusses declining MBA enrollments and the future of these programs.
- Northwestern revealed that Morton Schapiro, the university president, read and made decisions on 550 applications for the 2018-2019 academic year without outside input. Jim Jump at Inside Higher Ed debates the ethics of such a process.
- From Science News: After analyzing a decade of reviewer notes left on medical school applications, The Journal of General Internal Medicine has shown how internal bias shapes admission prospects for women and people of color.