College Board Provided Gifts to Get on Preferred Lender Lists, Settlement with Connecticut AG Reveals
A week after the College Board announced it was leaving the student loan business, three colleges reached settlements with Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal for receiving discounts on computer software from the company in exchange for listing it as a preferred lender. The three schools Trinity College, Fairfield University and Sacred Heart University said they received discounts on financial aid software in exchange for listing the College Board as a preferred lender. As part of the agreement, the schools will donate a combined total of $75,000 to their scholarship funds. Blumenthal also announced this week that a group of 17 schools across the state had agreed to abide by a code of conduct that contains restrictions on gifts and payments from student lenders to college officials similar to those proposed by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. "As students return to school, they do so with the knowledge that Connecticut's colleges and universities have committed to sound student loan practices. Abuses uncovered in the student loan industry will be barred here in Connecticut," Jerry Farrell, Jr., the Commissioner of the state's Department of Consumer Protection, said in a statement that Blumenthal's office released.
For Second Year in a Row, SAT Scores Drop
The College Board on Wednesday announced this year's SAT scores, and they were down for the second year in a row. This is the first time that there have been declines in back-to-back years since 1991. College Board officials attributed this year's drop to a sharp increase in test-takers, including a record number of students from minority groups. Altogether, 1.5 million members of the high school class of 2007 took the test this year and 39 percent of these students were black, Hispanic, or Asian-American. Critics of the SAT, however, attributed the declines to significant changes that the College Board made in the test two years ago. They noted that the number of students taking the ACT a competing standardized exam increased at a faster rate, yet average scores on that test increased this year. In addition, Inside Higher Ed reported that the percent of students from wealthier families taking the SAT continues to rise.
35,000 Louisiana College Students Missed Whole School Year Following Katrina
The lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina forced as many as 35,000 Louisiana college students to suspend their education for the 2005-2006 school year, according to a report released this week by the Southern Education Foundation. The report, "Education After Katrina: Time for a New Federal Response," also found that government spending on education recovery has made up just two percent of total federal hurricane relief aid. "Overall, for every $2.5 billion spent for other purposes over the last two years, the federal government has found $1 to spend for Katrina-related education," the report states. The report also notes that the effects of Hurricane Katrina on Gulf Coast education are likely to continue for years to come: the number of students taking the ACT fell by one-sixth in Louisana, with black students accounting for about 60 percent of the drop.