Higher Ed Press Clips December 2012

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December 1-7, 2012

Denver Post:
Master plan sets performance goals for Colorado colleges, universities –
The Colorado Commission on Higher Education on Thursday adopted a master plan that includes five-year performance contracts for colleges and universities intended to spur degree attainment and help the schools better meet the needs of underserved populations.  The plan was developed by the state Department of Higher Education.

The Coloradoan:
New plan ties higher ed funding to performance –
The Colorado Commission on Higher Education on Thursday adopted what some consider an innovative plan that ties state funding to a college or university’s performance.  This move comes as state funding to higher education has dwindled and financial burden flip-flopped in recent years, leaving students to shoulder about two-thirds of the cost of their education.

Pueblo Chieftain:
CCHE adopts master plan –
A new higher education master plan that ties institution performance goals with performance funding was approved Thursday by members of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.  The statewide plan, developed in conjunction with input from governing boards of state public institutions, is designed to ensure Colorado has an educated workforce to meet the future economic needs, according to Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, who also serves as director of the Department of Higher Education.

Ed News Colorado:
State colleges make their promises –
Colorado State University-Fort Collins intends to increase the number of undergraduate degrees issued by 1 percent a year.  For its part, Metropolitan State University promises to do the same thing – plus increase the number of credentials earned by traditionally underserved students by 2 percent a year.  Fort Lewis College, along with the other two, proposes to increase the graduation rate of transfer students.  Those three institutions and every other state college are finalizing the performance contracts required by a 2010 law and intended the meet the goals of the master plan adopted formally by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education Thursday.

Colorado lands $30 million R2T grant –
A happy crowd gathered at the Capitol Thursday morning to hear Gov. John Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia formally announce Colorado’s award of nearly $30 million from the Race to the Top-Early Childhood Challenge program.  The grant was expected – the money came from an R2T “consolation” round –  but that didn’t dampen anyone’s enthusiasm.
Hickenlooper called it “a good day for Colorado kids,” and Garcia said, “It is a great day for Colorado’s children.”

Ed Week:
(Blog) U.S. Ranks 2nd on College Degrees But Low on 2-Year Ones
The United States ranks just second to Norway in the proportion of its citizens with bachelor's degrees, a new international analysis of higher education achievement shows.
While 32 percent of the American population ages 25 to 64 has a four-year degree, add in two-year degrees, and the percent jumps to 42 percent—making the United States fifth, overall, in higher education completion.  Getting Back to the Top: An International Comparison of Higher Education Achievement was released Wednesday by the National School Boards Association's Center for Public Education, an Alexandria, Va.-based organization.

December 8-12, 2012

Denver Post:
Editorial: Colorado's higher education promise
When the public hears government officials promise higher quality and greater efficiency, there is often reason to be skeptical.  But for Colorado's higher education institutions, greater efficiency and enhanced quality aren't really a choice. Escalating tuition over the past decade has started to meet with pushback from students and parents. Meanwhile, in the past five years the state has cut nearly $200 million from higher ed, equaling more than a quarter of total state funding. So colleges and universities have had little choice but to seek other funding sources while tightening their belts and emphasizing customer satisfaction. As part of this process, the Colorado Commission on Higher Education last week adopted a statewide master plan for higher education, with clear goals as well as performance contracts for schools that could be tied to extra funding.

Ed Week:
(Blog) Simplified Student-Aid System for College Recommended –
The federal student financial-aid system needs to be simplified and shift its focus from access to college completion, according to a new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education, a Washington-based nonprofit.  Figuring out how to wade through the current system of Pell Grants, federal student loans, tuition tax credits, and campus work-study programs can be overwhelming for many families, particularly for first-generation and low-income students. The report, released Tuesday, noted that 750,000 students submitted a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in 2009, but had it returned because the information was insufficient and then failed to resubmit it.

NY Times:
Some Questions Merit Aid at University of Oklahoma –
An introductory course here in American government offers the kind of intimate, interactive learning that scholars prize: just 20 students, most of them freshmen, debating the merits of the Senate filibuster one recent morning, and parrying pointed questions from a professor who knew their names.  Small colleges specialize in this style of learning, but this is the University of Oklahoma, the kind of large institution where most students enrolled in lower-level courses are more likely to be listening to lectures than taking part in discussions. Adding to the course’s cachet is a professor who brings rare authority to the subject: David L. Boren, the university president and a former governor and United States senator.

December 13-17, 2012

Denver Post:
Changes to Colorado collegiate financial aid under discussion –
In an effort to align financial-aid distribution with its newly created master plan, the Colorado Department of Higher Education wants to change the way its $70 million pot for need-based grants is allocated.  The new formula would increase the amount of money colleges and universities receive for students in their sophomore, junior and senior years as incentive to meet retention and graduation goals set recently by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.

Denver Business Journal:
Colorado considers changes to college funding –
The Colorado Department of Higher Education is suggesting changes to how financial aid money is distributed to colleges and universities, The Denver Post reports.  The proposed changes to how the $70 million available is distributed are meant to encourage students to remain in school and finish their degrees in a timely fashion.  The financial aid would be doled out with each school getting about $600 million for each qualifying freshman. That money would increase by $200 each year through a student's senior year. If a student hasn't received an undergraduate degree after four years, the aid would return to the freshman level.

Alamosa News:
ASU seeks fiscal progress in 2013 –
ALAMOSA — Adams State University (ASU) continues to tackle its $2 million budget crisis, and the Board of Trustees is hoping things will start looking up in 2013.  On Friday during the board’s meeting, Office of Finance and Governmental Relations Vice President Bill Mansheim reviewed the university’s current budget numbers, explained how the $2 million shortfall come to be through a snapshot of prior budgets and provided a budget forecast based on historic trends and increased 2013 spring semester enrollment.

Ed Week:
State Chiefs to Examine Teacher Prep, Licensing –
Twenty-five state schools chiefs are vowing to take action to update their systems of teacher preparation and licensing, with an eye to ensuring teachers are ready the minute they take charge of their own classrooms. The announcement Friday morning from the Council of Chief State School Officers is probably state officials’ most explicit promise to engage in changes to teacher preparation, and it comes as the latest sign that the topic is likely be a major focus of K-12 policymakers in 2013.

Inside Higher Ed:
Guns, Safety and Higher Ed:  Compilation of articles on guns and higher education –
Amid the growing national debate over gun laws and safety -- in the wake of the tragic mass murder at an elementary school in Connecticut -- here is a compilation of articles from the last two years about higher education and regulation of guns.

Wall Street Journal:
Who Can Still Afford State University? –
When Steve Joiner attended the University of Colorado in Boulder in the late 1980s, his parents—an Air Force mechanical supervisor and a teacher—paid his tab of about $4,000 a year, roughly $8,600 in today's dollars. He earned a master's degree and became a high-school math teacher.  Public universities have long been an attractive, affordable option for families with limited resources, but over the past decade, tuitions have skyrocketed. In August, Mr. Joiner's daughter Akaysha, the valedictorian of her high-school class, enrolled at CU, as the big campus here is known. But tuition, room, board and books for in-state students is now $23,000 a year—a sum Mr. Joiner and his wife, a social worker, weren't prepared for. The big difference between now and then: Though Colorado taxpayers now provide more funding in absolute terms, those funds cover a much smaller share of CU's total spending, which has grown enormously. In 1985, when Mr. Joiner was a freshman, state appropriations paid 37% of the Boulder campus's $115 million "general fund" budget. In the current academic year, the state is picking up 9% of a budget that has grown to $600 million.