Jul 05, 2007
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Thursday, July 5 , 2007
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The Focus is Now on College Performance

By Shaileja Mammen

Congress and the U.S. Department of Education are considering moves that would force colleges to publish information about their performance.

At the same time, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges are advocating a "voluntary system of accountability." The two public-college groups have been working on their voluntary accountability system for more than a year.

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It's Harder for Some to Seek Help

By Surajit Sen Sharma

Campus violence and the mental health of students are more than just broad issues to be addressed by administrators; they are part of the everyday reality on college campuses. Although research suggests that at least 20% of the U.S. population is affected by depression, serious research on how this statistic relates to college students is rarely done. Only in the wake of particularly violent campus events like the Virginia Tech shootings does the nation wake up and start to take stock of the situation.

A recent survey conducted by the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor found that almost 15% of students surveyed experienced distressing periods. Researchers found that more than 50% of college students who show significant anxiety or depression symptoms avoid seeking help, even though help is available to them at no cost.

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UNC implements stricter financial aid rules

The University of North Carolina has implemented tighter guidelines for its financial aid officers at its 16 campuses. The new rules are expected to prevent potential conflicts of interest. Earlier, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo found that schools were accepting gifts and favors in exchange for recommending lenders on their preferred-lender lists. According to the new guidelines for the UNC system, financial aid officers will not be able to receive any gifts from student loan providers. The rules also call for more transparency in the school's financial aid system. Financial aid officers will have to provide students' families with the names of three or more lenders who provide the best deals on educational loans based on interest rates, customer service, and fees, among other factors.

FFEL participants say auction not a good idea

Proposals requiring student loan providers to participate in an auction if they want to underwrite student loans met with criticism from Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program participants. At a roundtable discussion, FFEL lenders said the proposal, if implemented, would drive small lenders out of the student loan business. Although the move may decrease the number of lenders, the proposals may not have a significant impact as far as students are concerned. Department of Education data show that 32 lenders control 90% of the market, and Sallie Mae currently controls about 40% of outstanding FFEL Program debt.

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