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News Brief for the week ending April 18, 2014

Montana University System News:

MSU Dedicates Student Success Center In Honor of Allen Yarnell- “The MSU community gathered today to honor one of their own. On Wednesday, the Office of Student Success was dedicated to Allen Yarnell, a historian, scholar and administrator who advised four presidents at MSU prior to his death in November,” reports the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. “Among the many positions that Yarnell held during nearly 20 years at MSU included Vice President for Student Affairs and Vice President for Student Success.” Read More

MSUB Announces 4 Chancellor Finalists; Interviews Set For Next Week- “Montana State University Billings announced on Tuesday the names of four finalists to replace outgoing Chancellor Rolf Groseth, a group that includes candidates from Missouri, New York, Texas and Wisconsin,” reports the Billings Gazette. “The four candidates will visit MSUB for in-person interviews and public forums from April 21 to 25.” Read More

UM Dining Receives Top Award For Environmental Sustainability- “The University of Montana learned Friday that UM Dining has won the Gold 2014 Sustainability Award, given by the National Association of College and University Food Services,” reports the Missoulian. “The Sustainability Awards recognize and honor member institutions each year that have demonstrated outstanding leadership in the promotion and implementation of environmental sustainability, specifically as it relates to campus dining operations.” “This award validates our educational and outreach efforts that we continue to provide UM students, faculty and staff regarding our ongoing portfolio of sustainable practices,” said Mark LoParco, director of UM Dining. Read More

Partnership Offers University of Montana Western Education Degree in Butte- A collaboration between the University of Montana Western and Montana Tech is offering students the opportunity to earn a bachelor of science in elementary education from Montana Western's renowned education program by taking classes through UMW at the Montana Tech campus. Students complete required teacher education coursework online and face-to-face at Montana Tech as well as enrolling in general education courses from Montana Tech to earn the degree from Montana Western without having to attend class on the Montana Western campus. Read More

National News:

Federal Student Loan Interest Rates to Jump- Right now, many students and families across the country are receiving financial aid offers and deciding how to pay for college. Most students will need to shop for student loans now, and some of you have asked us what the new rates will be. While rates aren’t set in stone yet, interest rates on new federal student loans are expected to jump this July. We’ve updated our Paying for College tool using our best guess of what the rates will be, so you can have a better estimate of what your monthly payment might be after graduation. Interest rates on most federal student loans are based on a certain type of bond that the Treasury Department issues, known as the ten-year note. The yield is the rate at which investors charge the federal government for borrowing money. Next month, there will be a Treasury bond auction, and that rate will set federal student loan interest rates. Here’s what federal student loan interest rates on new loans might look like, compared to this past year. Read More

Education Department Proposes Easing Eligibility Criteria For PLUS Loans- "The Education Department, which has been roundly criticized by historically black colleges over changes in the underwriting criteria of its PLUS-loan program, is considering softening its standards for awarding the loans," The Chronicle of HIgher Education reports. "In a proposed rule sent to members of a negotiating committee this week, the department offers to reduce from five years to two the 'look back' period for debts that are in collection or charged off, and to exempt from consideration delinquent debts of less than $2,085. Under the proposed change, parents and graduate students who have older defaults on their credit records or smaller amounts of debt in delinquency would not be denied PLUS loans. Read More

Why Americans' Trillion-Dollar College Debt Burden Is Still Rising- "Americans needing federally subsidized student loans for undergraduate or graduate programs at colleges and universities will pay a higher interest rate in the coming academic year, according to new projections from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). And the cost of borrowing money to finance a college education will continue to rise in the coming years as a result of a bipartisan deal on Capitol Hill - despite President Barack Obama's 2012 pledge to fight against raising the debt burden on graduates," Al Jazeera America reports. Read More

House Budget Plan Would Hit Higher Ed Hard- A 2015 budget plan narrowly approved by the House of Representatives late last week would impose major cuts on higher education, including a 10-year freeze on Pell grants and reduced funds for student loans. The plan from Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., House Budget Committee chairman, would cut federal spending by $5 trillion and hit virtually all areas of domestic spending, including the health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act. But education advocates criticized the higher education provisions, one of which would freeze the maximum Pell grant for the next 10 years. Read More

Education Department Plans To Change How It Oversees Loan Servicers- The U.S. Department of Education is planning to change how it evaluates the companies that manage the loan payments of the more than 26 million borrowers of federal direct student loans. Department officials are “in the final stages of developing revised performance metrics” for the companies and other entities that service federal loans on behalf of the government, Thomas P. Skelly, the department’s acting chief financial officer, wrote late last month in a letter to Congressional lawmakers. The letter outlines the department’s multiyear plan to create performance metrics and pricing models that are uniform across the department’s four main servicers and the secondary handful of servicers who each manage far fewer accounts. The department is also “re-examining” how it pays its servicers, Skelly wrote. Read More

Andrea Opitz/Outreach Coordinator

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