Hikes in Stafford Loan Rates Could Spell Trouble for Some Community College Students

The announcement of a significant increase in Stafford loan rates could pose a problem for some community college students. Despite reassurances from Congress that a deal is coming, those looking for ways to pay for their postsecondary education continue to be left in a bind at this point. On the other hand, many community colleges have done away with the Safford loan option for other reasons, and students are finding alternative methods for footing their tuition bills. Check out how community colleges are dealing with the issues involving Stafford loans and finding other ways to help their students financially.
 
Stafford Loan Rates Doubling?
 
MPN Now reports that the failure by Congress to address student loan rates has resulted in a doubling of the rates for Stafford loans. Without intercession by lawmakers, students could see rates of 6.8% on loans taken out for the upcoming school year. Last year, those rates were just 3.4%.
 
The rate hike applies to subsidized Stafford loans, which are those in which the government pays the interest while the student is still attending college. Subsidized Stafford loans make up about one-quarter of all Stafford loans issued. Unfortunately, they are also the loans that typically go to the neediest students.
 
Susan Romano, director of financial aid at Finger Lakes Community College in New York, told MPN Now that the changes may prompt students to look for other ways to pay for their college education.
 
“I think it’s going to make families think twice about loans, especially here at
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As federal lawmakers appear unable to make progress in the student debt crisis, state lawmakers in Oregon are moving ahead with a plan to make higher education more affordable and debt-free. The proposal, known as “Pay it Forward, Pay it Back,” is a unique approach to footing the climbing bill of postsecondary education today. The bill has been approved by the state legislature and is expected to be signed into law by Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber later this month.
 
What is Pay it Forward, Pay it Back?
 
According to the website for the Oregon Working Families Party, this new piece of legislation, officially dubbed House Bill 3472, offers access to a higher education without the accumulation of large amounts of debt. Students attending public universities and community colleges would be able to do so without paying any tuition up front. After the student leaves the college or university and enters the workforce, these students would pay a percentage of their income directly to the state’s higher education funding.
 
Under the current proposal, students graduating from a four-year public school would pay 3 percent of their income. Those graduating from a community college would pay 1.5 percent of their income. Payments would be deducted directly from the individual’s payroll, much like social security taxes. The payments would increase or decrease according to the individual’s income amount, and would continue for a full 24 years.
 
Pay it Forward, Pay it Back was the brainchild of a group of students at Portland State University,
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The largest community college in California is destined to meet a dire fate one year from now, if heroic efforts to save the school are not successful. City College of San Francisco was recently notified by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges that it will lose accreditation by July 31, 2014. Although the school has few options left, extreme moves are in the works that could be the last hope for saving the failing school.
 
11 of 14 Changes Go Unaddressed
 
Problems for City College date far beyond the recent announcement of accreditation loss. San Francisco Gate reported that the commission evaluated the school in 2012, and made 14 recommendations for improvements that would save the schools accreditation status. Those 14 recommendations included:
  • A revised mission statement for the school
  • Use of the mission statement to allocate resources, with an increase of reserves
  • An assessment of the college’s effectiveness
  • Evaluations of all staff members responsible for student success
  • Determination of whether there is sufficient staff to ensure student success
  • Identification of priorities in class curriculum and effectiveness of current courses and programs
  • Assessment of whether student support services are hitting the mark
  • Development of an effective planning process
  • Leadership training for all staff and faculty members
  • Reporting of financial information through timely, accurate process
  • Inclusion of building operating costs in long-term financial planning
  • Development of plan for maintaining and updating information systems
  • Improvement of governance structure for more efficient decision-making
  • Adherence to bylaws and policies by college trustees
The college was placed on severe sanctions and given eight months to
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Students entering into the California Community College system will now have another tool to help them choose a degree program and motivate them to complete that program. Through a new online tool, California students will be able to see how much they can earn with the various degrees offered through their school. The tool was recently unveiled by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office.
 
Introducing Salary Surfer
 
The new website, dubbed Salary Surfer, will allow students to track a person’s potential salary in California for five years after earning a two-year degree. The site uses data from graduates across the state, to compile significant information that can help students choose the best degree program for them. The Huffington Post reports that Salary Surfer shows the median annual incomes for 179 of the most popular community college programs in the state.
 
The website does not include data on students that transfer to four-year institutions. It does not have information on federal employees or self-employed graduates. Graduates that move out of state are also not included in the salary averages listed at Salary Surfer.
 
EdSource reports that Salary Surfer is the first online database of its kind in the state. The website tracks average annual salaries for the various programs two years after graduation, and again five years after graduation. Students can see how much they might expect to make in their discipline and compare that to what they were making prior to graduation. They can also see the type
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At a time when more focus is on community colleges as a viable and cost-effective option in higher education, leadership at these schools appears to be in crisis. According to a recent report from the Aspen Institute and Achieving the Dream, a large percentage of community college presidents are slated for retirement over the next five years. Even more concerning is the fact that few appear poised to take over the helms of these institutions, leaving some to wonder where the direction of the community college system is headed.
 
The new report, titled, “Crisis and Opportunity: Aligning the Community College Presidency with Student Success,” was released at a National Forum in Washington D.C. in June. The report details the challenges facing community colleges in upcoming years as they work to keep their key leadership positions filled with qualified candidates. The report identifies some of the specific problems that could contribute to a presidential shortage of community college presidents nationwide. It also provides recommendations that community colleges can follow to ensure their leadership does not suffer with the loss of a large number of current presidents in the next few years.
 
Primary Concerns Over the Coming Leadership Shortage
 
According to a recent report at Inside Higher Ed, more than 40 percent of the current community college presidents may retire within the next five years. That equates to the loss of more than 500 college presidents by 2017, leaving gaps in community college leadership that need to be filled by qualified individuals
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