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House passes student loan overhaul

Correction appended.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed health care reform legislation late Sunday night that also included provisions for an overhaul of the federal student loan program, Reuters reported. The legislation means the government's role in providing the loans would increase.

Under the current system adopted in 1965, the government subsidizes private lending groups who give loans to students. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that cutting this program will save $61 billion over the next 10 years, according to the Washington Post. Of that $61 billion, $36 billion will help to shore up the Pell Grant Program. The rest will go to helping community colleges and historically black colleges and to establishing caps on loan payments.

The package of changes will now go to the Senate for approval, where a vote is expected this week, Reuters reported.

RISD fees rises 4.4 percent
The Rhode Island School of Design's board of trustees agreed to raise total fees, including tuition, to $49,605 for the 2010–11 academic year, which represents a 4.4 percent increase over last year's total fees, the Providence Business News reported last week. Tuition will increase 4.5 percent to $38,000.

According to the article, the increase is RISD's smallest in a decade. The school will also increase its operating budget for the 2011–12 school year by 4.5 percent, up to $129.9 million.

Like many colleges, RISD has suffered from the effects of the economic downturn. According to PBN, its endowment lost 27 percent of its value, down to $273.8 million at the end of the last fiscal year. The school also had to make cuts in staff and benefits last year, PBN reported.

Penn's new efforts to recruit gay students brings praise
Inside Higher Ed reported last month that the University of Pennsylvania was going to start using gay students to recruit gay applicants. Eric Furda, dean of admissions at Penn, maintained that the effort was consistent with common practices in recruiting other groups of students.

Gay applicants are currently identified by information they provide about themselves in personal essays or group membership. But at least one gay advocacy group is preparing to petition the Common Application to include a box where students could check "gay" as they do their gender and race, according to the Inside Higher Ed article.

Dartmouth has also begun a similar practice, Inside Higher Ed reported.

Some gay and lesbian advocacy groups have praised Penn for its progress in the acceptance of gay students as part of a college campus. But an article in the American Prospect criticized the move, saying schools would be better served building the strength of their gay and lesbian community and support services.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that tuition at the Rhode Island School of Design would increase to $49,605 for the 2010-11 school year. In fact, that figure refers to the total price, including tuition, room and board and other fees. Tuition itself will increase to $38,000. The Herald regrets the error.


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