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Congress Plans to Double Stafford Loan Interest Rates

March 14, 2012

Congress Plans to Double Stafford Loan Interest Rates

by Suada Kolovic

Recent reports suggest that student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt for the first time and will reach $1 trillion this year. The average college student leaves owing $25,000 in loans, putting them at risk of having to significantly delay moving on to different life stages such as buying a house, getting married and even having children. Curious as to how the government has responded in aiding and relieving students of insurmountable debt? By possibly doubling the interest rate of the most popular federally subsidized loans, of course.

On Tuesday, college students delivered more than 130,000 letters to congressional leaders at the Capitol to protest the increase. Unless Congress takes action, the interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans is set to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1, increasing the average debt by $2,800 for more than 7 million students receiving the loans, according to a spokesman for the Democratic members of the House Committee on Education & the Workforce. Why is Congress considering the increase when so many students are already in debt? In 2007, Congress voted to cut the Stafford interest rate, which in turn cost an estimated $7.2 billion from 2007 to 2012 and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, that burden was shouldered almost entirely by lenders and loan-guarantee agencies. "We all want to promote efforts that will reduce college costs, but the era of empty promises has to end," said John P. Kline Jr., a Republican from Minnesota who is the committee's chairman. "The interest rate hike students face is the result of a ticking time bomb set by Democrats five years ago," Mr. Kline said. "Simply calling for more of the same is a disservice to students and taxpayers." (For more on this story, click here.)

Soon-to-be college graduates, do you fear crippling student loan debt? What steps are you taking to prevent becoming a statistic?

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Multiple Law Schools Could Face Litigation Over Job Placement Rates

March 15, 2012

Multiple Law Schools Could Face Litigation Over Job Placement Rates

by Suada Kolovic

With the cost of a college education rising relentlessly and our economy still downturned, students are faced with a tragic catch-22: either become saddled with overwhelming debt or forgo a college education and limit your career possibilities. But are those the only options? What if students could prosecute their alma maters because they were misled by high job placement rates? Well if you pursued law school, chances are your college will soon be in the midst of a similar situation.

According to reports, 20 more law schools have found themselves under fire regarding allegedly deceptive job placement rates. The eight firms held a news conference announcing that they were seeking to file class action lawsuits and predicted that “nearly every law school in the country” would soon face litigation. With the team promising to sue 20 to 25 schools every few months, several law schools have already started revising their employment data – data that reflects much lower percentages of students securing full-time positions and reveal that salary statistics were based on a small percentage of students who voluntarily reported their incomes. David Anziska, one of the lead lawyers, said the team hopes that the law schools would eventually enter into a “global settlement” under pressure from the courts, regulators and legislators.

What do you think of the lawsuit? Is it fair to target law schools during these trying economic times when almost all college graduates, regardless of their majors, are struggling to find employment? Let us know in the comments section.

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Out-of-Work Professor Turns to Essay Mills for a Paycheck

April 10, 2012

Out-of-Work Professor Turns to Essay Mills for a Paycheck

by Suada Kolovic

With the economy in a continuous slump, recent college graduates have come to somewhat expect a struggle when it comes to landing a job. But they’re not alone – even those with years of experience are having a hard time and turning to professions they aren’t exactly proud of: After nearly three years of unemployment and no health insurance, a former assistant professor has turned to writing for essay mills in order to earn a paycheck.

Jennifer Sunseri was an assistant professor at Texas Tech University before she was let go in 2009. With two master’s degrees in technical communications and Slavic linguistic and a Ph.D., Sunseri admits that early on that she wasn’t worried. "I thought for sure my skills as an educator and writer would see me through," Sunseri said. "I am still in shock at how many applications for writing instructor at the local community college, for GED tester, for office manager, for adjunct this and that at the local university, even for substitute teacher resulted in naught.” But after not seeing a doctor for almost three years and being behind on her rent, Sunseri decided enough was enough. Since February she’s worked for the essay mill and while she’s not proud of her new found career, Sunseri says there are some perks. She decides what projects she works on and admits writing on deadline keeps her in tip-top writing shape. "Ironically, the paper mill seems to be the only company that understands the value of my extensive education, and, really, two masters and a doctorate, well, I guess I've been training for a job like this all my life." (For more on this story, click here.)

What do you think about Sunseri’s new profession? Is it unethical or is she just doing what she needs to in order to get by?

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Fastest Growing Jobs for College Grads

May 1, 2012

Fastest Growing Jobs for College Grads

by Suada Kolovic

Today is National Decision Day for college applicants and while determining where you’ll be headed in the fall is huge, knowing what you’ll be studying once you get there is just as imperative. With the economy the way it is, pursuing a growing job field would be ideal. With that in mind, check out some of the fastest growing jobs in America below:

Would you consider pursing any of the positions listed above? Will the current labor market impact your decision on what you’ll major in? Let us know in the comments section.

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Internships That Pay (and Pay Well!)

May 4, 2012

Internships That Pay (and Pay Well!)

by Suada Kolovic

For college students, internships are viewed as a rite of passage, a box that has to be checked and a prerequisite for future ambitions. While attaining an internship is a success in its own right, finding one where you’ll be compensated in something other than experience is a challenge…but not necessarily impossible. A new report from Glassdoor lists the highest-rated companies that not only pay their interns but pay them insanely well. Check out some companies that made the cut below (for the full list, click here):

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Employment Rates for Law School Graduates Lowest Since 1994

June 12, 2012

Employment Rates for Law School Graduates Lowest Since 1994

by Suada Kolovic

The notion that those who are well-educated are safeguarded from bleak employment rates doesn’t seem to hold true anymore: According to the National Association for Law Placement, recent law graduates face employment rates that have fallen to the lowest level since 1994.

Only 85.6 percent of 2011 law school graduates (whose employment status was known) had jobs nine months after leaving school – two percentage points lower than the employment levels of the 2010 graduates. Now that may not be reason to sound the alarm, but only 65.4 percent of 2011 graduates had jobs that required passing the bar exam. Ding! Ding!

"For members of the Class of 2011, caught as they were in the worst of the recession...the entry-level job market can only be described as brutal," the association's executive director James G. Leipold said in a written statement. "When this class took their LSATs and applied for law school, there were no signs that the legal economic boom was showing any signs of slowing and yet by the time they graduated, they faced what was arguably the worst entry-level legal-employment market in more than 30 years."

Future law students in the audience, what do you think of the news? With a law degree no longer translating into instant financial security, are you reconsidering your educational path?

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Graduate Early, Get Sued in Germany

German University Sues Student for Graduating Too Fast

July 10, 2012

Graduate Early, Get Sued in Germany

by Suada Kolovic

For most students, graduating college in just four years is the ideal and not the norm. So when a student comes along and graduates with his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in only three semesters, one would assume a parade of some sort would be in order. The Essen, Germany-based School of Economics and Management went a different route: they sued the student who accomplished this feat.

Earning both a bachelor’s and master’s degree should take a typical student about 11 semesters and 60 exams to complete, yet Marcel Pohl did it in just 20 months. How’d he do it? With the help of two friends, Pohl divvied up lectures and swapped notes. Did we mention that in that time, he also completed an apprenticeship in a bank? Well, he managed to fit that in, too! Now, the school is crying foul and claiming “income loss” and suing for $3,772 – a fraction of the tuition and fees Pohl would have paid had he completed the degrees in the customary amount of time. "When I got the lawsuit, I thought it couldn't be true," Pohl recently told the German tabloid, Bild. "Performance is supposed to be worth something."

With a college education as expensive as it is, can you ever really graduate too early? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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UChicago’s New Financial Aid Initiative Targets Local Students

November 9, 2012

UChicago’s New Financial Aid Initiative Targets Local Students

by Suada Kolovic

The University of Chicago has recently announced the launch of UChicago Promise, an initiative aimed at helping high school students in the city of Chicago gain admission, pay for and succeed in college. The cornerstone of the program is the commitment from the university to eliminate loans from financial aid packages of students from Chicago who are admitted.

“Chicago, from our pre-schools to our world-renowned universities, is committed to ensuring that every child has access to a high-quality education,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “The step taken today by the University of Chicago is a creative step that will help many of Chicago’s own achieve their goals and graduate without a financial burden.”

In addition to replacing loans with grants and other nonrepayable student aid, UChicago Promise includes an automatic waiver of the University’s application fee and offers a wide array of support and mentoring programs for aspiring college students. The initiative will take effect for those applying this year and will not be available to students with existing loans or who have already matriculated.

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Florida Considers Reducing Tuition for Select Majors

December 13, 2012

Florida Considers Reducing Tuition for Select Majors

by Suada Kolovic

With the economy in what seems like an endless slump, many have come to question the validity of a college education in disciplines that don’t guarantee definite career paths for students once they’ve graduated. Majors on the chopping block include those in the humanities and social sciences and universities across the country aren’t turning a deaf ear to the issue: Officials in Florida are considering reducing tuition in order to steer students towards majors that are in demand in the job market.

Governor Rick Scott and Republican lawmakers are urging Florida’s 12 state universities to nudge students toward job-friendly degrees and suggesting that universities freeze tuition rates for three years for majors in “strategic areas.” In theory, an undergraduate student would pay less for a degree in engineering or biotechnology – whose classes are among the most expensive – than for a degree in history or psychology. Financing from the state would be expected to make up for the tuition gap. Now while the initiative is popular among state officials, liberal arts devotees at the University of Florida have organized a protest petition which has gained signatures from across the state. They argue that the move would inevitably reduce the number of students who take humanities classes, further diminishing financing for those departments.

What do you think of Florida’s attempt to encourage students into certain majors with financial initiatives? Do you think steering students into fields that they have little interest or aptitude in just to save money could lead to discontent in their futures? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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College Board Members Agree: College Costs Too Much...Just Not at Their Institutions

December 20, 2012

College Board Members Agree: College Costs Too Much...Just Not at Their Institutions

by Suada Kolovic

College board members have released a statement – “It’s not me, it’s you.” Okay, those might not have been their exact words but that was the overall message: According to a survey on higher education, most board members believe that higher education costs too much...but a majority also say their own institutions’ prices aren’t the problem. Society responded with a cynical, “Riiiiiiiight.”

A report on the recent “College Prices, Costs, and Outcomes: Who’s Minding the Gap Between Higher Education and the Public?” survey revealed a whopping 55 percent of respondents said higher education in general is too expensive relative to its value but 62 percent said that their institution costs weren’t the problem and were, in fact, appropriate. Susan Whealler Johnston, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Association of Governing Boards, said the survey is important because it provides insight into how board members perceive public concerns about higher education and how they then act in the boardroom. "What we have noticed is there's a major gap between the two,” said Johnston. The survey drew 2,539 responses from among the nearly 14,000 board members from the public and private colleges invited to participate in the survey about perceptions of college prices, costs and outcomes, with a response rate of 18.3 percent.

For more on this survey, click here...then tell us what you think!

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