Notes & Coffee: January 16-22

Happy Sunday everyone! With many of us recovering from a long day of marching yesterday (#wewillnotgobackwards), it’s the perfect day to kick back and catch yourself up on the impact of all our country’s change on higher ed. Notes & Coffee compiles all the trending stories into a single read just for you. We invite you to get comfy with your favorite morning beverage and dive into this week’s Notes & Coffee.

The higher education president - “No president in history has, with his rhetoric, so clearly embraced the idea that postsecondary education is a must for individuals and essential for the country’s economic and societal well-being. No president has invested so heavily, with tens of billions of dollars of new spending (with billions more proposed and blocked by Republicans in Congress), to give students the means and opportunity to get postsecondary education or training. And no president -- having accepted higher education as crucial -- has pushed as hard to improve its efficacy, from the belief that something so valuable should deliver on its promises. This last reality alienated some college leaders who view Obama as a disappointment. In retrospect they may miss him dearly.”

Tough questions for DeVos - "An hour into Tuesday’s confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, a clear pattern had emerged. Democrats on the Senate education committee sought to nail down answers from Donald Trump’s nominee for education secretary on a series of specific questions -- but they received few or no specific answers. When Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an Independent, asked if she would support making public colleges and universities free, she called it “a really interesting idea” but was noncommittal."

Uneven access, equal success - “Although students who come from wealthy backgrounds are far more likely to attend highly selective colleges than students from poor families, rich and poor students who go to the same college will achieve equal financial success, a new study from the Equality of Opportunity Project found."

University food pantries aim to provide food assistance to students - "The cost of higher education is forcing some students to make choices between school expenses and basic needs. A recent study by student hunger advocacy groups found 48 percent of students surveyed at 34 colleges had experienced food insecurity in the last month. Some schools are trying to help students by launching new programs."

Mental health on the syllabus - “Colleges and universities generally try to make information about mental health services accessible to students. But at Northwestern University, students may start seeing such information in a surprising place: syllabi. Wanting the campus to be “accessible and welcoming to all students,” Northwestern’s Faculty Senate last week passed a resolution encouraging “all faculty to include language in their syllabi similar to the following: ‘If you find yourself struggling with your mental or physical health this quarter, please feel free to approach me. I try to be flexible and accommodating.’” The statement ends with phone numbers for health and student services.” 

More Notes:  

Essay: Early FAFSA - Fast, but will it go far?

Two tuition-free years 

The return of the MOOC

More people over 60 are struggling to pay off student loans, report finds

Blog: Fewer borrowers are repaying their loans than previously thought