Prepaid tuition plans flawed but still popular

A prepaid tuition plan allows families to buy future tuition units or credits at current prices.

Prepaid college tuition plans are no longer the surefire solution to runaway tuition costs they once seemed.

The mostly state-sponsored plans were designed as a way to save for college by locking in at least a portion of future tuition at today’s prices.

The premise remains sound: Pay now to minimize the shock of rising costs. After all, tuition has increased an average 7 percent annually since 1990 and shows no sign of slowing down.

But the battered finances of state governments have raised questions about whether some plans will live up to their promises.

Numerous states have shut down their plans or changed them as their deficits widened. Facing shortfalls, some have bumped up the prices by charging substantial premiums above the cost of current tuition. And several of the 11 open plans do not offer guarantees.

“It’s a model that doesn’t always work,” says Joseph Hurley, a CPA and the founder of Savingforcollege.com.

College financing experts advise parents and students to carefully review the specifics of their state’s plan and determine if it makes sense for them.

A closer look at some important points to consider about prepaid plans:

BASICS

A prepaid tuition plan allows families to buy future tuition units or credits at current prices. If you purchase shares worth one semester’s tuition when your child is young, the shares should always be worth one semester’s tuition regardless of how much rates increase. The credits can sometimes also be applied to room and board.

Most prepaid plans have residency requirements. Purchased credits can be applied toward a college in another state, but there’s no assurance the full cost will be covered. If a student decides to attend a private or out-of-state college, the plans typically pay the average of in-state public college tuition, according to Mark Kantrowitz, founder of the financial aid site FinAid.org.

States invest families’ money in the stock market and use their investment returns to pay for the tuition.

But some programs have run into trouble after investments lost money in the market downturn in 2008-09 and tuition rose faster than expected.

Alabama had to make compromises in its program this spring in order to keep it operating, and now pays less than full tuition. Prepaid plans in Kentucky, Illinois and South Carolina are less than 80 percent funded for future payouts, raising the risk of future changes.

tags

Iowa Central Community College to Enhance Learning with New Technology

Higher Education Institution Selects Turning Technologies
as Campus-Wide Clicker Provider

Youngstown, OH – Turning Technologies, the global leader in the assessment delivery and data collection industry, adds Iowa Central Community College to its list of institutions to standardize support around the company’s student response solutions. After the completion of a four-month evaluation pilot, Iowa Central Community College has selected the ResponseCard® RF LCD as the centrally supported clicker device. ResponseCard RF LCD provides students with visual response confirmation, channel setting and extended battery life.

In order to provide campus-wide autonomy to its student population of approximately 6,000, Iowa Central Community College has standardized on a reliable technology that can be supported and represented universally. The clickers will be used in a variety of courses with more than 1,500 students expected to adopt clickers in fall 2012. The institution’s evaluation committee had several metrics in mind when piloting the clickers. Turning Technologies’ product offered the ease-of-use, affordability and superior product support the committee required.

Jennifer Condon, Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences said, “Students’ success is correlated to their engagement in their learning and campus life. Turning Technologies provides that affordable, easy-to-use technology to engage students in both smaller and larger classes, even in workshops and special campus events. We can’t wait to assess the impact with the campus-wide implementation this fall.”

“We are pleased to enter into a relationship with Iowa Central Community College. Since day one it has been our goal to improve and redefine the student approach to learning as well as the educator approach to teaching. Being able to provide this technology to the future students of Iowa Central is yet another step in creating improved learning gains to students and positively impacting student retention,” said Tina Rooks, Ed.D., Turning Technologies’ VP & Chief Instructional Officer.

Turning Technologies readily elicits customer feedback, and takes it into consideration during the development process, creating assessment delivery and data collection solutions specifically designed with users in mind. The company remains the industry leader in higher education with more than 2,300 U.S. colleges and universities using Turning Technologies’ clicker solutions. Additional growth is expected in 2012, predominately during the fall semester with ongoing pilots and standardizations.

About Turning Technologies:
Turning Technologies creates leading assessment delivery and data collection solutions for learning environments. Founded in 2002, the company began with the development of response technology that was affordable, user-friendly and better documented so that users could easily grasp its benefits. Today, more than four million ResponseCard clickers have been delivered to K-12 schools, universities and businesses worldwide. Turning has expanded its portfolio of products to include data collection systems that securely transfer digital data for various assessment, testing and certification programs. Based in Youngstown, OH, information on Turning Technologies’ solutions can be found at www.TurningTechnologies.com.

tags

TopSchool Annual User Forum Gives Institutions Platform to Collaborate

Education Strategist Dr. Keith Hampson to Deliver Keynote

Denver, CO — May 30, 2012 — TopSchool, a leading SaaS provider of Student Lifecycle Management (SLM) solutions for higher education, is hosting its Annual User Forum, “Changing Landscapes Demand Continuous Innovation.” The event is dedicated to discussing today’s biggest education issues, driving the direction of TopSchool’s system, and providing an opportunity for users to network and learn best practices from other TopSchool users and staff.

“The ability for our customers to come together and collaborate with each other is especially important as the market continues to evolve,” said Justin McMorrow, co-founder and Chief Customer Officer of TopSchool. “From broad trends in Student Lifecycle Management to specific uses of our system, schools will leave the forum with fresh insight and ideas on how they can more effectively use data to meet changes head on and deliver a better student experience.”

Dr. Keith Hampson, who has a wealth of insight on the influential role technology plays in higher education, will deliver the event’s keynote address. Hampson will discuss the critical leadership role of college management for advancing the use of technology, how we can intertwine administrative and instructional roles through technology, address increased regulatory pressures and accountability requirements, and analyze institution-wide performance.

Hampson is a well-known education strategist who writes the Higher Education Management blog, consults with institutions and businesses, and serves as contributing editor of Today’s Campus. He also has extensive experience on the academic side having served as Digital Strategy Consultant at the University of Toronto, Director of Digital Education Strategies at Ryerson University and faculty.

“We are thrilled to have someone of Keith’s stature speak to our clients – knowing Keith, he will spark conversation and offer up viewpoints that will truly change how schools look at the ways they can and should use information and technology,” said McMorrow.

TopSchool’s User Forum, which is being held in Denver, CO, kicks off with a welcome reception the evening of Tuesday, September 25th. Sessions will take place September 26th – 27th. To learn more, please visit: http://www.smore.com/topschool-user-forum.

About TopSchool

TopSchool (www.topschoolinc.com) built the first SaaS student administrative system in higher education to address the key aspects of the student lifecycle. The company’s Student Lifecycle Management (SLM) system goes beyond the capabilities of traditional college student information systems, and includes a customizable student portal, easy-to-use CRM and SIS components, and an intelligent reporting suite. Schools can easily manage all student information from recruitment and retention through career placement in a central location, supporting students through enrollment, admissions, academics, finance and career services. TopSchool gives student-centric institutions more control and flexibility in the way they manage student data, empowering them to drive growth, reduce costs and meet accountability requirements.

# # #

tags

5 reasons community colleges make sense right now

Whether you’re a parent or a high school student researching college options, community college should be high on the list, says U.S. News. With higher education rising to exorbitant levels in the past few years, many students are mortgaging their futures to pay for degrees that may not be worth the investment. Yet despite alarming trends in the student loan debt arena, the competition is as fierce as ever for a seat at top schools. Cost seems to be a secondary consideration at this point, which is all the more reason you should consider a community college and sit out on the degree hunter’s bidding war. As someone who went to a four-year university right out of high school, I can tell you now that I wish I had gone to a junior college first. The decision would have provided an easier transition right out of high school and made much more sense financially. And that was before tuition skyrocketed to where it is today. Since hindsight is 20/20, hopefully young readers and parents will benefit from my experiences. Here are some reasons why community college makes more sense than attending a four-year college at the moment…

Click here for the full story

tags

A gap in college graduates leaves some cities behind

As cities like this one try to reinvent themselves after losing large swaths of their manufacturing sectors, they are discovering that one of the most critical ingredients for a successful transformation — college graduates — is in perilously short supply, the New York Times reports. Just 24 percent of the adult residents of metropolitan Dayton have four-year degrees, well below the average of 32 percent for American metro areas, and about half the rate of Washington, the country’s most educated metro area, according to a Brookings Institution analysis. Like many Rust Belt cities, it is a captive of its rich manufacturing past, when well-paying jobs were plentiful and landing one without a college degree was easy.  Educational attainment lagged as a result, even as it became more critical to success in the national economy. “We were so wealthy for so long that we got complacent,” said Jane L. Dockery, associate director of the Center for Urban and Public Affairs at Wright State University here. “We saw the writing on the wall, but we didn’t act.”

Dayton sits on one side of a growing divide among American cities, in which a small number of metro areas vacuum up a large number of college graduates, and the rest struggle to keep those they have…

Click here for the full story

tags

Son of mogul receives full ride to UCLA despite dad’s fortune

The debate over America’s love-hate relationship with higher education has increased a notch with news that an expensive full-ride scholarship to UCLA has been awarded to a teenager who hardly needs the cash: Justin Combs, Calvin Wolf for Yahoo! News reports. Combs is the son of hip-hop mogul Sean Combs (Diddy, P. Diddy, Puff Daddy, etc.), and received a $54,000 per annum football scholarship, reported the day after his high school graduation on May 24 by Britain’s Daily Mail. The editorial staff of The Week are all over the debate, with proponents and critics of wealthy kids receiving merit scholarships arguing over various issues, including whether or not the funds come from taxpayer sources or private donors.  While Justin Combs certainly put in lots of hard work to land his scholarship and may well be deserving of it, his lack of financial need does highlight an important issue that has been gnawing at the financial efficiency of higher education: Should rich kids get scholarships at all and instead follow the mantra success is its own reward? Basically, is it right to reward poor, working-class and lower-middle-class teens for their efforts while expecting their wealthier peers to labor simply on the merits?

Click here for the full story

tags

Deals with banks stack millions in fees on college students

U.S. student debt tops $1 trillion, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

It took Mario Parker-Milligan less than a semester to decide that he was paying too many fees to Higher One, the company hired by his college to pay out students’ financial aid on debit cards.

Four years after he opted out, his classmates still face more than a dozen fees — for replacement cards, for using the cards as all-purpose debit cards, for using an ATM other than the two on-campus kiosks owned by Higher One.

“They sold it as a faster, cheaper way for the college to get students their money,” said Parker-Milligan, 23, student body president at Lane Community College in Eugene, Ore. “It may be cheaper for the college, but it’s not cheaper for the students.”

As many as 900 colleges are pushing students into using payment cards that carry hefty costs, sometimes even to get to their financial aid money, according to a report released May 30 by a public interest group.

Colleges and banks rake in millions from the fees, often through secretive deals and sometimes in apparent violation of federal law, according to the report.

More than two out of five U.S. higher-education students — more than 9 million people — attend schools that have deals with financial companies, says the report, written by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Higher Education Fund.

The fees add to the mountain of debt many students already take on to get a diploma. U.S. student debt tops $1 trillion, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Student loans have surpassed credit cards as the biggest source of unsecured debt in America, according to the CFPB, which regulates cards and private student lenders.

Among the fees charged by Higher One, according to its website, is a $50 “lack of documentation fee” for students who fail to submit certain paperwork.

The U.S. Department of Education called the charging of such fees “unallowable” in guidance to financial aid officers issued last month.

Higher One founder and Chief Operating Officer Miles Lasater said in an eMail that the company takes compliance with the government’s rules “very seriously,” and officially swears that to the government each year.

“We are committed to providing good value accounts that are designed for college students,” he said, and students must review the company’s fee list when they sign up for an account.

He cited a study commissioned by Higher One that declared Higher One “a low-cost provider for this market.” The same study found that the median fees charged to the 2 million students with Higher One accounts totaled $49 annually.

tags

Link-Systems International Unveils Revolutionary Web-based Whiteboard Designed for the Mobile Learning Environment

Link-Systems International redesigns the WorldWideWhiteboard® using HTML5 to make online collaboration for educators and students more engaging, accessible, and easy to use.

Tampa, Florida – May 29, 2012 – Today, Link-Systems International, Inc. (LSI), a leading provider of integrated technology and services to educators, announced the unveiling of its newest version of the WorldWideWhiteboard for the mobile learning environment.

LSI has developed and licensed the WorldWideWhiteboard to the academic community for over 16 years. The WorldWideWhiteboard allows educators to provide online tutoring, teaching, or office hours in a virtual whiteboard suite that is completely web-based and requires no downloads. In order to provide students with 21st century technology skills and learning environments, a number of initiatives have been created. One to One and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs are getting students actively engaged in their education and prepared for the increase of technology in curriculum. LSI recognizes the importance of mobile technology on the future of education and the WorldWideWhiteboard v5.0 delivers.

“A new wave of innovation is sweeping the world of telecommunications and transforming the approaches of educators. Students today need education software capable of using the full power of iPads, iPhones, and Android devices,” said Dave Kephart, Ph.D., Director of Academic Research at LSI. “With HTML5, a more powerful form of support for the classroom is available.” Dr. Kephart further explains, “Web-based learning enables educators to convey their expectations, conduct discussions, and facilitate students’ creative contributions whenever and wherever they may be. What has largely been missing is an effective implementation of HTML5 learning tools – and now that is supplied by the WorldWideWhiteboard v5.0.”

Market-leading mobile device support is the defining characteristic of the WorldWideWhiteboard version 5.0. HTML 5 allows for support of major mobile devices—including iPad, iPhone, and Android— and provides the flexibility necessary to more quickly support new versions or new devices.

Ease of use and an expanded toolset ensures that participants remain engaged while using the technology. Whether instructors utilize the drag-and-drop-website-to-whiteboard functionality to pull images onto the workspace and use them as the background for a lecture or they engage students with pertinent YouTube or other video content, the WorldWideWhiteboard facilitates and retains interaction better than ever before.

Complex subject matter collaboration is intuitive and easy with integrated discipline-specific buttons, on-the-fly rendering of MathML, LaTeX, and HTML, and integrated WYSIWYG equation editor along with expanded multimedia support and display provided by the HTML 5.0 architecture. Enhanced live and offline modes effectively promote community building and collaboration, whether that be in the Live Classroom synchronous one-to-many mode with streaming audio/video, in the Live Tutorial synchronous one-to-one queued mode, or in one of our unique asynchronous modes. Asynchronous modes include the Paper Center, Q&A Center, Worksheet Center, and Audio Note.

The new release retains the most popular features of the WorldWideWhiteboard: any student or faculty member with Internet connectivity can gain access. There are no custom installations or third-party downloads required and the WorldWideWhiteboard supports all HTML compliant browsers and mobile devices. Integration is made easy with a proven SSO architecture for learning management systems and flexible Basic LTI support for custom platforms along with stabile, scalable ASP hosting.

About Link-Systems International, Inc.

LSI is a privately-held company that has been dedicated to student success and student retention in K-12 education, higher education, and workforce development education since 1995. We specialize in technology development, online tutoring services, and content services.

LSI’s core technologies include a very flexible online tutoring/teaching platform, an online grade book, an online algorithm engine with metadata and workflow capabilities, and an online business intelligence/data mining technology designed to provide real-time alerts regarding student/school/teacher performance, attendance, and other metrics. LSI’s core services include content development, consulting, and online tutoring through our NetTutor® brand. LSI customers include K-12 publishers, higher education publishers, virtual high schools, higher education institutions, technology companies, and joint programs dedicated to providing online educational content to members of organized labor and their families.

For more information, visit http://www.link-systems.com.

########

tags

Virginia Commonwealth University to Enhance Learning with New Technology

Higher Education Institution Selects Turning Technologies
as Campus-Wide Clicker Provider

Youngstown, OH – Turning Technologies, the global leader in the assessment delivery and data collection industry, adds Virginia Commonwealth University to its list of institutions to standardize support around the company’s student response solutions. After the review of vendor presentations, Virginia Commonwealth University has selected ResponseCard® NXT as the centrally supported clicker device.

Virginia Commonwealth University is a large four-year public institution that enrolls more than 32,000 students. In order to provide campus-wide autonomy, the institution has standardized on a reliable and flexible technology that can be supported and represented universally. Clickers are used in a variety of courses at Virginia Commonwealth University, and more than 5,000 students are expected to adopt new ResponseCard NXT clickers in fall 2012.

The institution’s eight member evaluation committee based their decision on a clicker needs and requirements priority list. Turning Technologies’ overall solution was identified to best address the full range of uses among faculty members. Key deciding factors included compact receiver size, thorough training and product support, well developed pedagogical resources and a genuine concern for quality customer service.

Jeff Nugent, Co-Director in the Center for Teaching Excellence said, “Turning Technologies provided us with a flexible technology solution that could support the widest range of instructional options for our faculty. We were also excited about the vision Turning has for the future of response technologies, including a solid mobile option and an eye toward enhanced learning analytics that could be used to better understand how students are learning.”

Turning Technologies’ ResponseCard NXT provides cell phone style text entry for short answer and essay questions. Combined with TurningPoint® polling software, instructors can poll within PowerPoint®, over any application, and administer self-paced testing for individual summative assessment.
“Turning Technologies is pleased to provide higher education institutions with intuitive tools that support research-based instructional strategies proven to increase student outcomes,” said Dr. Tina Rooks, Turning Technologies’ Vice President & Chief Instruction Officer. “With critical performance indicators such as retention and graduation rates becoming top institutional priorities, the value of immediate assessment available with our technology becomes increasingly vital to the educational process with a positive impact on student retention.”
Turning Technologies readily elicits customer feedback, and takes it into consideration during the development process, creating assessment delivery and data collection solutions specifically designed with users in mind. The company remains the industry leader in higher education with more than 2,300 U.S. colleges and universities using Turning Technologies’ clicker solutions. Additional growth is expected in 2012, predominately during the fall semester with ongoing pilots and standardizations.

About Turning Technologies:
Turning Technologies creates leading assessment delivery and data collection solutions for learning environments. Founded in 2002, the company began with the development of response technology that was affordable, user-friendly and better documented so that users could easily grasp its benefits. Today, more than four million ResponseCard clickers have been delivered to K-12 schools, universities and businesses worldwide. Turning has expanded its portfolio of products to include data collection systems that securely transfer digital data for various assessment, testing and certification programs. Based in Youngstown, OH, information on Turning Technologies’ solutions can be found at www.TurningTechnologies.com.

tags

Deals with banks stack fees on college students

It took Mario Parker-Milligan less than a semester to decide that he was paying too many fees to Higher One, the company hired by his college to pay out students’ financial aid on debit cards, the Associated Press reports. Four years after he opted out, his classmates still face more than a dozen fees — for replacement cards, for using the cards as all-purpose debit cards, for using an ATM other than the two on-campus kiosks owned by Higher One.

“They sold it as a faster, cheaper way for the college to get students their money,” said Parker-Milligan, 23, student body president at Lane Community College in Eugene, Ore. “It may be cheaper for the college, but it’s not cheaper for the students.”

As many as 900 colleges are pushing students into using payment cards that carry hefty costs, sometimes even to get to their financial aid money, according to a report to be released Wednesday by a public interest group. Colleges and banks rake in millions from the fees, often through secretive deals and sometimes in apparent violation of federal law, according to the report, an early copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press…

Click here for the full story

tags