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The Best of Our Knowledge # 827


What do you think is the most important issue facing higher education?
The American Association of University Professors conducted a survey
recently to determine how people felt about the proposed Academic Bill
of Rights. Perhaps to their surprise, respondents did not think political
bias in the classroom was the most important issue facing higher education. That title clearly went to The High Cost of College Tuition, chosen by 43%. According to a new report from the Southern Regional Education Board,
many students at 4-year public colleges face a gap between their ability
to pay for college and the cost of attending, even with money from
financial aid. That gap is largest for students from lower income families.
Their report draws on data from a survey by the National Center for
Education Statistics. It says even when federal and state education
loans are factored in, 45% of students still cannot meet their costs.
At the same time, educators continue to debate how much money is
available for students going to college. The federal government touts
it is now making more student loan money available. While opponents
claim that, in fact, less money is available. And all the while, we
continually hear how important higher education is for keeping us
competitive in the global marketplace. So we went in search of answers
to find out more about Student Loans and Student Debt. According to
the not for profit advocacy group, Project on Student Loans, the average
student borrower now leaves school with nearly 20-thousand dollars in
student loan debt, more than twice what it was just ten years ago.
TBOOK spoke with two prominent authorities on this issue. Luke
Swarthout is National Organizer of The State Public Interest Groups'
Higher Education Project. And Robert Shireman is the Executive
Director of The Project on Student Debt.
Jim Horne reports. (10:41)

**(Attention Program Directors. The websites mentioned in the above
story are: www.projectonstudentdebt.org; and www.uspirg.org )**

Congress has dropped the so-called 50-percent rule that put
restrictions on federal student aid. That means college is now more
affordable, and more accessible for million more students. The
50-percent rule was an amendment to the Higher Education Act.
It made students who took 50-percent or more of their college
courses by telecommunications, not eligible for federal financial aid,
like Stafford loans or the Plus loans. So an entirely new community
of institutions that offer distance learning can now compete with
traditional colleges and universities for campus-based aid and for
attracting more students.
TBOOK spoke with Excelsior College President, John Ebersole.
Glenn Busby reports. (6:44)

**(Attention Program Directors. For listeners interested in
more information about Excelsior College, their website is: