Monday Morning Digest: When Colleges Can’t Afford College

The title of this week’s news roundup belies a lack of thematic unity (with apologies to composition teachers everywhere). We’re back onto college costs this week…not only for students but for the institutions themselves.

Debt Costs Amherst College Its AAA Rating From S&P, but Not From Moody’s
Most of us know that taking on debt is a real gamble, even for laudable reasons. Amherst is investing in a new science building at the cost of that third “A” in their bond rating (well, from S&P). It’s hard to come down on a school for investing in education, of course, and Amherst has strong collateral in its reputation.

Leader: No one is escaping the mire
When enrollment falls, institutions’ debt-to-income ratio rises, and academics and politicians alike get a little nervous. From an academic:  “I think this is what it must have felt like to be a banker the day that Lehman Brothers went bust.” Yikes.

Cracking the Credit Hour
Aaaand, switching gears. Should we re-evaluate an idea that’s been around since Andrew Carnegie? Nah. This report (be sure to click on the pdf link) digs into the history of credit hours and looks at the question of seat time versus, like, learning.

Why These Kids Get a Free Ride to College
In which anonymous donors invest in community (quaint, but lovely). In fact, it makes us feel like singing…”I’ve got a grad in Kalamazoo…” (eh, apologies to Glenn Miller).

Private Sector Role Is at Heart of Campaigns’ Split on College Costs
Apparently, it’s an election year, and the campaigns are working to differentiate themselves on how we approach the costs of college education. In the balance, among other things, are Pell grants.

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