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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Brown Announces New, Expanded Financial Aid Policy

The Corporation of Brown University has approved a new financial aid policy that eliminates loans for students whose family incomes are less than $100,000, reduces loans for all students who receive financial aid and no longer requires a parental contribution from most families with incomes of up to $60,000.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] – At its winter business meeting today (Saturday, Feb. 23, 2008), the Corporation of Brown University approved far-reaching enhancements to the University’s financial aid program for undergraduates. Beginning in the fall of 2008, students from families with incomes of less than $100,000 will no longer have loans as part of their financial aid packages, and most parents who earn less than $60,000 will not be expected to make a financial contribution to fund their child’s Brown education.

The new financial aid also sharply reduces loan expectations for all students who receive financial aid, regardless of family income. The new provisions apply to all current students who receive financial aid, as well as to the Class of 2012, which matriculates next fall.

“Since 2001, Brown has made financial aid for our students one of our highest priorities. Every year, with strong support from the Brown Corporation, we have taken steps to ensure that our financial aid programs are competitive and effective,” Simmons said. “Today, we take another major step forward to ensure that our nation’s best students from lower- and middle-income families can attend Brown and graduate without the enormous burden of college debt,” she said.

Currently, about 40 percent of Brown’s undergraduates receive financial aid from the University at a cost of $57 million. The University’s budget for undergraduate financial aid, consistently the fastest growing element within the budget, will increase by more than 20 percent next year, reaching $68.5 million. The loan elimination and reduction program and the elimination of parent contributions for most families with incomes less than $60,000 alone will add $7.4 million to the financial aid budget for fiscal year 2009.

“We recognize and understand the concerns of America’s families about the rising cost of higher education,” Simmons said. “With our new aid package and a smaller increase in tuition, we hope to address their concerns in a fiscally responsible manner while continuing to attract the best students with diverse backgrounds to Brown.”


Thursday, February 21, 2008

UC Applications Top 120,000, an All-Time High

The University of California has received 121,005 applications for admission to the fall 2008 term, breaking the record for the fourth year in a row. Overall applications increased by 9 percent over fall 2007, with a 9.2 percent increase at the freshman level and an 8.5 percent increase at the transfer level.
The all-time high number of applications included a 7.7 percent increase in California freshman applications. In-state transfer applications rose by 7.1 percent, reversing last year's dip.
"The growing demand for a UC education coupled with the growing increase in the pool of qualified applicants is welcome," said Susan Wilbur, UC director of undergraduate admissions. "Certainly there's been an increased level of student preparation, with more students fulfilling the 'a–g' requirements, for example."
UC has put effort into a variety of strategies to recruit transfer students from the state's community colleges, Wilbur said, and the increase in transfer applications was a sign these efforts are paying off.
Out-of-state freshman applications increased by 14.4 percent, and international freshman applications by 25.2 percent. Out-of-state and international transfer applications went up by 5.1 percent and 24.9 percent, respectively.
Virtually all prospective students—99.5 percent of freshmen and 99 percent of transfers—applied online. Just 721 paper applications were submitted.
Applicants continued to apply to multiple UC campuses, 3.6 on average for freshmen and 2.9 for transfer students.
UC Davis posted the largest gain in freshman applications, 15.6 percent, followed by Santa Barbara (15 percent), Santa Cruz (13.8 percent), Merced (13.2 percent), Berkeley (9.8 percent), Los Angeles (9.2 percent), Riverside (6.5 percent), Irvine (6.2 percent) and San Diego (5.1 percent).
All nine UC undergraduate campuses saw gains in transfer applications, led by Merced's 37.7 percent jump from 2007 (300 applicants). Other top draws were Santa Barbara (a 12.9 percent increase), Los Angeles (12 percent) and Davis (11.9 percent).
Freshman applications showed increases from every racial and ethnic category. Chicano/Latino applications rose the most, a 17.9 percent increase, and there was a 16.1 percent increase in African American applications.
All campuses saw an increase in African American applicants from California. Applications from this group have increased by 26.4 percent since 2006. Freshman applications from Chicano/Latino students who are California residents went up by at least 16.2 percent on all campuses. Since 2006, applications from California's prospective Chicano/Latino freshmen have risen 30.4 percent.
Transfer applications showed one-year increases of 10.8 percent for Asian Americans, 7.1 percent for white/other and 4.6 percent for Chicano/Latino applicants. The number of African American transfer applicants remained flat.
Applications from California public high school students outpaced the state Department of Finance's projected increase of 3.2 percent more graduates in 2008. The University saw an increase of 6.4 percent from this group.
Transfer applicants from California community colleges increased this year by 8.1 percent, or 1,522 students. All campuses experienced a solid increase, including UC Merced, which had a one-year increase of 231 applicants (32.3 percent). Application growth is noted among the following groups: Asian American (12.3 percent), Chicano/Latino (6.3 percent), white/other (5.5 percent) and Filipino American (2.3 percent).
The academic quality of UC applicants remains high. And slightly more applicants this year reported that they are the first in their families to attend college, have a low family income and are among those who are attending California's lowest-performing public high schools as defined by the school's academic performance index (API) score.
These admissions data are from a preliminary Jan. 4 report. Some UC campuses remained open after the Nov. 30 deadline, so final results may differ.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wealth Gap growing Bigger Among American Colleges

Stanford University had an exceptional year for fund-raising in 2007, collecting $832 million in private donations. Harvard, too, reaped a bounty, with $614 million in gifts.

Those sums, detailed in a new report by the Council for Aid to Education, show that even as Congress presses wealthy colleges and universities to spend more of their endowments, they continue on a fund-raising streak that will widen the wealth gap in higher education.

In all, colleges and universities raised about $30 billion, 6 percent more than the previous year. But nearly one-third of that increase — $518 million — went to just 20 institutions.

Those 20 campuses raised a total of almost $7.7 billion — or more than a quarter of all giving to colleges and universities, the council said. The top 20 represent fewer than 1 percent of the nation’s institutions of higher education.

Four universities — the University of Southern California, Johns Hopkins, Columbia and Cornell — raised $400 million to $500 million each. Eight others drew $300 million to $400 million, according to the study, which is being released on Wednesday.

The numbers are sure to fuel the unease of those who argue that universities are turning into fund-raising machines, with university presidents spending more and more of their time cultivating donors, aided by development teams, consultants and marketers who scour alumni lists.

“It’s great that people feel connected with the colleges they attended and want be part of their long-term health and success,” said Cary Nelson, an English professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and president of the American Association of University Professors.

“But Harvard could buy and sell a number of countries around the globe,” he said. “It could pay the tuition of all its undergraduates, and its endowment would still grow. It is time for wealthy colleges and universities to begin asking themselves what their broader social responsibilities are.”

John Longbrake, a Harvard spokesman, defended the way the university uses its financial resources. “Harvard and many other universities make enormous contributions to our nation in research, scholarship, medicine and the arts due in large part to the resources we raise and invest,” he said.

At a time when federal grants and state support have not kept pace with enrollments, public universities also are jumping into the race for gifts and seeking to build endowments. One made the top 10: the University of California, Los Angeles, which received $365 million in private gifts.

Seven other public universities ranked among the top 20, including universities in Wisconsin, Washington, Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia and Indiana, and the University of California, San Francisco. They each raised $252 million to $325 million. Other public universities lag, though they are starting to pick up some of the fund-raising skills of the powerhouses. At the City University of New York, for example, donations reached $279 million last year, a 39 percent increase over the previous year and three and a half times the total in the 2002 fiscal year.

Officials at the wealthiest universities are unapologetic about their success, saying it shows that donors approve of their goals.

“These are large numbers,” said Martin Shell, vice president for development at Stanford, referring to the university’s donations. “But they are made up of almost 56,000 individual gifts, and that includes many people making $100 gifts and $10 gifts.”

Stanford’s $832 million in donations, which followed $911 million the previous year, reflected a $4.3 billion capital campaign announced in October 2006. Such fund-raising drives are typically periods when gifts rise significantly. Stanford also received some sizable bequests in the past two years, Mr. Shell said.

“Our donors hopefully are feeling very good about how we are making the absolute best use of their philanthropic dollars,” he said. “It is something we take very seriously. There are an unlimited number of very worthwhile causes and needs out there. We feel these needs are real.”

In the past year, some Congressional critics have suggested that colleges and universities should use more of their wealth to reduce tuitions. Many colleges say that their aggressive fund-raising and large endowments allow them to provide more financial aid and to substitute grants for student loans.

The donations were made in the 2007 fiscal year, which for many campuses ended in June.

The council said that 1,023 colleges and universities participated in the survey.

New York Times


Published: February 20, 2008