(CNN) - Christine Romans asks former Education Secretary William Bennett about the proposed Student Loan Fairness Act and rising tuition costs.
By Dominique Debucquoy-Dodley, CNN
New York (CNN) - Columbia University is seeking to alter the 1920 charter of one of its graduate school fellowships which is still limited "to persons of the Caucasian race," though the fellowship has not been granted in years.
The Lydia C. Roberts Graduate Fellowship is, at least on paper, available to white students "of either sex, born in the state of Iowa," according to a Columbia University charter from 1920.
The university filed an affidavit in Manhattan Supreme Court last week to support a petition from JPMorgan Chase, the fellowship's designated trustee, to change the whites-only provision, according to Robert Hornsby, assistant vice president for media relations at Columbia.
Other restrictions for the fellowship stipulate that a recipient may not concentrate their studies in "law, medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, or theology." Recipients must also agree to return to Iowa for two years after completing their studies at Columbia.
The fellowship was established in 1920 by Lydia C. Roberts, an Iowa native, with a $500,000 donation to the university upon her death. However, the school stopped awarding the fellowship in 1997 for several reasons.
It's not clear when the university stopped adhering "to the race-related terms of the gift," Hornsby explained.
"The university administers gifts in accordance with applicable law and (anti-discrimination) policies, and it has long been the university's practice to disregard donor restrictions that violate either the law or our policies," he added.
Editor's note: This story was updated May 16, 2013, to reflect new information about the student protest.
By Dantel Hood, CNN
(CNN) - For more than a century, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York provided free education to all admitted students. But the school isn’t immune to the money crunch forcing tuition increases at colleges across the country.
In April, Cooper Union announced that it will start charging tuition for undergraduate students matriculating in fall 2014. Citing a $12 million annual budget deficit, the Cooper Union Board of Trustees will scale back the full scholarship it has traditionally awarded.
At least 50 of Cooper Union's nearly 1,000 students have been occupying President Jamshed Bharucha's office on the seventh floor of the school's Foundation Building. The students organized a sit-in to protest the decision to charge future undergraduate students half the cost of tuition, up to $19,000 a year.
This week, they painted the office’s lobby black as a symbol of their protest. Cooper Union junior Troy Kreiner said it was an extension of a demonstration by architecture students, who painted another lobby black to protest tuition.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, introduced a bill that would take the interest rate for student loans from 3.4% to less than 1%.
"If the American taxpayer is gonna invest in those big financial institutions by giving them a great deal on their interest rate, let's invest in those students by giving them the same deal," Warren told CNN's Jake Tapper.
Critics say it's not quite the same - student loans are riskier than short-term, bank-to-bank lending. Warrens says loans for big banks are no-risk because they're still "too big to fail."
"Let's make at least a level playing field on those investments," she said.
By Blake Ellis, CNNMoney
New York (CNNMoney) - Student loan debt is leading some borrowers to put off buying a home, saving for retirement or even getting hitched - and many now regret taking out the loans in the first place.
About three-quarters of student loan borrowers surveyed said they - or their children - have been forced to make sacrifices in order to keep up with student loan payments, according to a survey from the American Institute of CPAs.Forty-one percent of the more than 200 people surveyed said they have delayed saving for retirement, 40% have put off buying cars, while 29% have postponed home purchases.
Even marriage has been put on hold, with 15% of respondents saying they delayed tying the knot because of student loan debt.
The majority of borrowers said they didn't anticipate having such a difficult time repaying their loans, and 60% feel some amount of regret about the decision to fund their education this way.
"[Graduates in debt] start out with an anchor that slows their progression toward future goals," Ernie Almonte, chair of the AICPA's National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, said in a statement.
(CNN) - It was an exciting moment when Torrean Johnson heard from his teacher that he'd won a major scholarship through the Gates Millennium Scholars Program administered by the United Negro College Fund.
The excitement was short-lived, though.
Johnson, a student at Southwest High School in Fort Worth, Texas, received notification he hadn't won. The teacher was one of hundreds who received erroneous letters saying their students would receive full-ride scholarships, CNN affiliate WFAA reported.
A statement on the Gates Millennium Scholar website said: "UNCF deeply regrets that an error by a staff member resulted in a miscommunication to some nominators and/or recommenders for students who were not selected to receive scholarships under the 2013 Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program....we recognize the incorrect update sent to their nominators and/or recommenders created stress and disappointment for everyone involved."
(CNN) - By now, most college applicants are another step closer to making their decision: They've gotten admission or rejection letters, and financial aid offers. But they shouldn't make any decisions on that initial aid offer, said Jordan Goldman, CEO of the college resource site Unigo.com. Now's the time to do another sweep for scholarships and grant, to ask about additional aid and negotiate, negotiate, negotiate, he said.
"More and more, people need to be really scrappy about paying for college," Goldman said. "They can't look at the financial aid offer they get as the be all and end all. They need to look at that as a starting place."
Did you negotiate on college financial aid? Share your story in the comments or tweet us @CNNSchools.
By Melanie Hicken, CNNMoney
New York (CNNMoney) - As tuition soars, parents and grandparents are putting more money than ever into 529 college savings plans.
Average balances for 529 college savings and prepaid tuition plans grew to a record $17,174 in 2012 - up 12% from an average of $15,349 in 2011, according to a report from the College Savings Plans Network, a nonprofit and affiliate of the National Association of State Treasurers.
Also known as "qualified tuition programs," 529 college savings plans are typically offered by the states and allow holders to save money and withdraw it tax-free, as long as the proceeds are used towards approved college costs - typically tuition, fees, room, board and other required supplies. Another kind of 529, prepaid tuition plans, let savers prepay for future tuition and lock in current prices, but they typically do not cover other expenses.
In December 2012, the number of existing 529 accounts increased by about 4% to 11.1 million, up from 10.7 million in December 2011. Total 529 investments reached a record $190.7 billion, up from $165 billion in 2011.
Those numbers were also helped by a strong stock market last year. In 2012, the S&P 500 soared 13%.
Follow the education conversation on Twitter @CNNSchools
By Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN
(CNN) - After President Barack Obama announced last week the release of a "College Scorecard," there was a small explosion on Twitter and perhaps in the minds of college applicants deep in the weeds of school selection.
Isn't there enough of this already?
Jeff Solnet (@jfsolnet) February 13, 2013
Is this going to do anything better?
scorecards and shopping sheets. Noble ideas but you have to ensure you are comparing apples to apples and not apples to pomegranates #edsotu—
Eric Nichols (@enichols679) February 13, 2013
Is this scorecard even a good idea?
Hopefully the new college scorecard will focus on quality and affordability. #sotu2013—
Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) February 13, 2013
Michael Harris (@MichaelS_Harris) February 13, 2013
President Obama just destroyed the liberal arts education that built him with his higher-Ed report card. Why pull the ladder up behind you?—
Gary Stager, Ph.D. (@garystager) February 13, 2013
The College Scorecard is not the same as U.S. News and World Report, Kiplingers, Fiske or most other college rankings and guides out there. It's not going to say if a school is among the 10 best anything, whether the students are cute or brilliant, if the dorms are swanky or if a school's mascot would win in a wrestling match - if you even believe rankings can reflect that.
During the State of the Union address, Obama said the College Scorecard would show "where you can get the most bang for your educational buck." It's a nod toward how tough it is to find a school and figure out how to pay for it. Its creators say it was built to reveal value, to show whether a school is worth the money - if you even believe numbers can reflect that.
It pulls together data already sprinkled around government reports and individual schools’ websites. It answers questions like, how much do students and their families pay? How much do students borrow? After all that, do students actually get degrees, and jobs?
Go to whitehouse.gov/scorecard, and type in the name of a school. Or scout one by location, area of interest or type of college, like distance education, campus setting or size. Click to choose one, and what comes back are graphics that depict the average net price: an estimate of the average amount it actually costs to attend, minus scholarships and grants.
Consider Occidental College in Los Angeles, the college young Obama attended after graduating high school in Hawaii. The College Scorecard says it costs $27,846 per year on average, which puts Oxy in the high-cost range. Families of its 2,125 students typically borrow $18,020 in federal loans for an undergrad to attend, and the loan payment would be about $207.37 per month over 10 years. The scorecard also says that about 83.5% of full-time Oxy students earned a bachelor’s degree within six years, and 12.8% transferred to another institution, like Obama, who went on to graduate from Columbia University in New York. There's a space on the scorecard to explain what types of jobs students get after graduation, but nothing is listed there. Sara Gast, a U.S. Department of Education press officer, said they expect to add the info within a year.
Any Oxy applicant is likely to notice the price. It's about $30,000 less than the price listed on Oxy’s website: $57,028 per year for tuition, room and board and fees. That "sticker price" could make potential students cross Oxy off the list immediately, even if they might qualify for tens of thousands in financial aid, even if the true, typical price is far lower. There's a sticker price, and then there's the price paid after deals are offered, negotiations attempted, loans approved and rewards claimed.
San Jose, California (CNN) - At 17 years old, Jessica Perez is an honor student who aspires to be the first member of her family to graduate from college.
But when it came to the application process, she felt lost, alone and ill-prepared.
"I didn't really know where to start," said Perez, who wants to be an astrophysicist. "There wasn't really anybody at home that could help me figure out how I could reach my dream."
Perez's grandparents, who raise Perez and her two siblings, both work long hours to make ends meet. And neither continued their education beyond elementary school.
Fortunately for Perez, she was directed by her school guidance counselor to a nonprofit called Strive for College.
"It helps students who don't really know anything about the college process," she said. "College students come to you and they tell you how to do it because they've been through it also."
Strive for College pairs high-school students with college students for free, one-on-one consultation over a yearlong period. Each pair works together through the application process for colleges, scholarships and financial aid.
Michael Carter's nonprofit has already helped 600 low-income students enter four-year colleges and universities.
"We take them through every little step of the process, because, frankly, it's a pretty detailed process - and if you miss one step, you could ruin all your chances," said Michael Carter, who founded the nonprofit in 2007 while he was a college freshman.
So far, Strive for College has already helped 600 low-income students across the country enter four-year colleges and universities. And it expects to help an additional 900 this year.