Highlights in Higher Ed: Adversity Scores and College Debt Pay-Off

A fairer SAT score?

The conversations surrounding college admissions and test scores just got more interesting, as The College Board announced it will begin assessing students based in part on the diversity of their backgrounds, both educational and socioeconomic. This “adversity score” will not be added to the test score itself but will be reported directly to admissions officials with additional data collected by the testing organization. The average score is 50; higher numbers indicate greater levels of disadvantage. Studies have consistently shown that the factors such as the quality of high schools and the poverty level neighborhoods affect educational outcomes, including standardized test scores. The adversity score is part of a larger rating system, the Environmental Context Dashboard.

Source: The New York Times

Looking off-campus to cut costs

The Commonfund Institute is predicting that colleges can expect their costs to rise by 2.6% this year. While this is a slight decrease from the inflation rate predicted for both 2017 and 2018, the increase still needs to be accounted for. In a bid to cut cost, colleges such as Ohio State University and Dartmouth College have successfully used outside agencies to manage energy consumption. Other areas where colleges are looking for outside help include constructing campus housing, maintaining utilities, and developing other infrastructure.

Source: Education Dive

Free community college hurts 4-year programs

Free community college is a hot topic in higher education, but the negative effects it may have on four-year universities is not often mentioned. The state of Oregon has had increased enrollment at two-year colleges but lower numbers at four-year colleges since its tuition-free program began. Additionally, the financial aid available through Oregon Promise – which began in 2016 – isn’t giving as much assistance to low-income students because it is a last-dollar scholarship program, which means it covers tuition and fees only after students have used all available federal and state financial aid. Oregon universities are enrolling fewer high-school graduates than before the program began, dropping 4.1% from 2016 to 2017.

Source: Inside Higher Ed

College debt paid for during speech

It was a busy graduation day at Morehouse College. Robert F. Smith, who has an estimated net worth of $5 billion this year according to Forbes, was granted an honorary doctorate prior to his commencement address. Smith, who has a bachelors from Cornell and an MBA from Columbia, then pledged to pay off the entire student debt of every graduate. In what is believe to be the largest gift ever made to a historically black college or university, the value of the 400 students’ debt is estimated to be about $40 million. Smith challenged the class to “pay it forward” in the future to other graduates.

Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education

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