Category Archives: Applying to US Universities

New ‘Net Neutrality’ Proposal Praised by Library Group

New 'Net Neutrality' Proposal Praised by Library Group
February 6, 2015

The American Library Association on Thursday praised the Federal Communications Commission's new net neutrality proposal, a stark reversal from seven months ago, when the association and 10 other higher education groups teamed up to advocate against regulations they feared would allow companies to pay for access to an internet "fast lane." The F.C.C. this week proposed to reclassify broadband under Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which agency chairman Tom Wheeler has said "will ban paid prioritization and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services."

Income-Based Repayment Costs Rising

Income-Based Repayment Costs Rising

February 6, 2015


WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration revealed this week that extending its income-based repayment program to 5 million existing student loan borrowers will cost taxpayers more than $9 billion.

The price tag for the expansion of the Pay As You Earn program had not previously been made public but was included as part of the administration’s annual budget. It came as the U.S. Department of Education also raised its estimate of the long-term cost to the government of all federal direct loans.

The upward projection of $21 billion for all direct loan programs was primarily the result of more borrowers enrolling across all of the federal government’s various repayment plans that tie monthly payments to a borrower’s income and forgive outstanding debt after 10 to 25 years.

Enrollment in those income-based plans has surged over the past years, as the Obama administration and consumer advocates have actively marketed the programs to borrowers who are struggling to make payments. The number of people enrolled in the programs gone up by more than half over the past several years.

The department’s annual recalibrations of the cost of student loans are based on changing economic assumptions, loan performance and other technical factors. The estimates can fluctuate widely from year to year.

Last year, for instance, the Department of Education reported that the long-term costs of outstanding student loans had increased by $6 billion. But the department’s forecast the previous year had gone in the other direction, projecting new savings of $8.1 billion.

Jason Delisle, director of the Federal Education Budget Project at New America, said it’s difficult to draw any firm conclusions about the costs of student loans from any one year’s estimate. “I don’t really put that much stock in the yearly calculation because it changes so much from year to year,” he said.

What is clear from the budget projections, though, is that the federal government’s income-based repayment programs collectively are operating at a cost to taxpayers. Although the revenue or costs associated with the federal government’s different types of loans vary widely in the standard or extended repayment programs, every single loan dollar currently in an income-driven repayment program operates at a cost to the government, budget documents show.

Some advocates for income-based repayment argue that even if the income-based programs make student loans more costly for the government, the program is still on track to generate profits, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Lauren Asher, the president of the Institute for College Access and Success, which has been a staunch advocate for income-based repayment programs, said that the estimated cost projections tell only part of the story.

"It's important to look at these numbers even in the context of the fact that the loan programs are projected to make tens of billions in profits in the near future and over the next decade," Asher said. "The availability of income-driven repayment plans is really essentially for borrowers who are increasingly facing difficulty repaying their loans.”

Rich world attainment is rising fast but not for all

Rich world attainment is rising fast but not for all

Karen MacGregor
30 January 2015 University World News Global Edition Issue 352

There has been a sharp rise in education attainment across the world’s wealthy nations, driven by young adults studying longer. But at the same time, nearly one in six young adults in OECD nations does not have the skills essential to function in the modern world, according to an interim Education at a Glance report for the OECD. There has been a sharp rise in education attainment across the world’s wealthy nations, driven by young adults studying for longer. While at the turn of the century, tertiary qualifications were held by 26% of people aged 25-34 years living in OECD countries, the proportion had soared to 40% by 2013, according to an interimEducation at a Glance report.
For 55-64 year-olds, the share with higher education rose from 15% in 2000 to 24% in 2013.

But at the same time, nearly one in six young adults in OECD nations does not have the skills essential to function in the modern world. There are 13 OECD countries with 15% or more unqualified youth – including France, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, New Zealand and Italy. And there has been little change in the past decade.

Andreas Schleicher, director for educational and skills at the OECD, believes a substantial proportion of under-educated young people poses a “major risk for labour markets and societies. Progress has to be achieved across the educational ladder, with priority given to diminishing the share of the least educated among the young.”

The publication, Education at a Glance Interim Report: Update of employment and educational attainment indicators, was one of two released simultaneously by the OECD late last month that touched on education and employment.

It is a successor to Education at a Glance 2014: OECD Indicators released last September and presents updated data on three major topics – educational attainment, labour market outcomes, and the transition from school to work. The other publication was Education Policy Outlook 2015: Making reforms happen.

The report has data on education from the 34 OECD member countries, and partner countries Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Latvia, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.

Educational attainment

In recent decades, almost all OECD countries have seen 'significant increases' in education attainment, and in most countries more than four out of five young adults have attained at least an upper secondary education, says the report.

On average across the OECD, 40% of younger adults have a tertiary qualification, but there are wide national differences.

“In Canada, Ireland, Japan and Korea, the majority of young adults hold a tertiary qualification, while it is the case for less than 30% in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Portugal and Turkey and the partner countries Brazil and Colombia.”

Austria, Czech Republic, Germany and Slovak Republic have extensive upper secondary vocational systems, the report notes, resulting in 60% or more of young adults attaining upper secondary education and low proportions – 11%, 6%, 13% and 6% respectively – with less than upper secondary.

“Therefore, these countries belong to the group with low proportions of young adults with low skills, while Italy, Mexico, Portugal and Turkey have some of the highest proportions of younger adults with low qualifications.”

Trends in educational attainment

“Between 2000 and 2013, upper secondary (or post-secondary non-tertiary) and tertiary qualifications gained more and more terrain across OECD countries which means that the proportion of the population with only a below upper secondary education is shrinking” – from 35% to 23% for all adults.

The proportion of people with tertiary education grew to 33% of all adults in 2013.

The rise in attainment is being driven largely by younger generations studying for longer. In 2000, tertiary qualifications were held by 26% of 25-34 year-olds and this proportion soared to 40% by 2013.

While progress has been made across all countries, says the report, the five countries with the highest proportion of older adults with low qualifications are also those with the highest share of younger adults with low qualifications – Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Spain and Turkey.

“In Portugal and Spain, the proportion of young adults with low qualifications is more than 30%, and in Mexico and Turkey more than half of younger adults have not attained an upper secondary qualification. Among these five OECD countries, only in Italy is the proportion of younger adults without an upper secondary qualification below 30%.”

Overall, the proportion of younger adults with low qualifications dropped from 25% in 2000 to 17% in 2013 – it was 18% for younger men and 15% for younger women.

“Despite this dominant trend, in some OECD and partner countries, namely in Denmark, Estonia, Latvia and Norway, there was an increase in the share of younger adults with low qualifications,” the report says.

Participation in the labour market

Since 2000 there has been a contraction of labour markets across most OECD countries. Employment rates have been decreasing and jobless rates growing among people with all levels of education.

In all OECD countries, people with high qualifications have the highest employment rates and in most countries, they also have the lowest risk of being unemployed.

Employment rates are 83% for people with tertiary education, 73% for those with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education, and 55% among people with qualifications below upper secondary education.

“Unemployment rates are 5.3% for individuals with tertiary education, 8% for those with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education and 13.7% for those with qualifications below upper secondary education,” the report says.

For adults with tertiary qualifications, the highest unemployment rates are found in Greece and Spain – 15% or more.

Employment rates vary to a degree by age group, but are consistently lower for older adults. However, joblessness “hits younger generations the hardest” for all levels of education, the report continues.

On average across the OECD, about 10% of older adults who do not have upper secondary education are unemployed, compared with about 21% of younger adults, and 11% of younger adults with an upper secondary education are jobless compared to 7% of older adults.

“The gap between the two age groups is the smallest among tertiary-educated adults: about 8% of younger adults in this group are unemployed compared to about 4% of older adults.”

Unemployment rates can be quite high among younger adults with a tertiary qualification in some countries such as Greece (33.1%), Italy (16%), Portugal (18.4%), Slovenia (10.8%), Spain (20.8%) and Turkey (11.1%).

And in a few countries, unemployment rates are higher among tertiary educated adults than among those with education below upper secondary.

In Mexico unemployment rates increase as education levels increase. This is the case among all adults – 5.2% and 3.8%, respectively. “In Mexico, the highest unemployment rates across all levels of education are those for the tertiary educated 25-34 year-old men (7.9%).”

Marked gender differences

A far higher proportion of 25-34 year-old women have tertiary education than men – 46% and 35% respectively – while the opposite is true for 55-64 year-old women and men – 24% and 26% respectively.

“In Australia, Estonia, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, at least one in two young women (25-34 year-olds) has a tertiary education, and in Canada, Japan, Korea and the Russian Federation more than 60% have a tertiary education.”

“The picture is quite different among young men however: only in Japan and Korea have more than one in two men attained a tertiary education.”

Employment outcomes vary according to gender across all OECD countries and education levels, the reports find. “On average, only 66% of women are employed compared with 80% of men.” The gender gap is the biggest among adults with the lowest education levels.

“The gap between men’s and women’s employment rates narrows as educational attainment increases. Yet, employment rates among tertiary educated women across OECD countries are still considerably lower than those of men, even though a higher proportion of women hold tertiary education credentials."

On average, 8.3% of tertiary educated younger women are unemployed compared to 7.3% of younger men. “Gender differences in employment could be a result of more women being outside the labour force, probably due to traditional roles in regards to the family unit.”

Transitions from school to work

The ageing population in OECD countries should favour employment among young people, the report says. But during recessionary periods, people with more work experience are favoured over new labour market entrants, and most countries are adopting policies that raise the age of retirement, slowing job rotation.

In unfavourable market conditions, young people tend to stay in education longer. On average, since 2000 about one year had been added to the duration of formal education. “In the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Turkey and the Slovak Republic, two years and more have been added.”

“In 2013, a typical 15 year-old in an OECD country could expect to spend about seven additional years in formal education during the next 15 years,” says the report.

Almost eight years would be spent not in education, in which the typical student would be employed for around five-and-a-half years, be unemployed for just over one year, and be out of the labour force – neither in education nor seeking work – for just over one year.

The report says that varying levels of employment among students of 15-29 years old can be explained by cultural, economic or social differences across countries. OECD students spend on average nearly two out of seven years in education working while studying.

Studies have shown that a combination of work and study can enable students to try different jobs before fully entering the world of work, and can help them gain financial independence, develop a sense of responsibility, enhance self-accomplishment and social integration, and develop knowledge and skills that help them find work after their studies.

It has been demonstrated that students who work between 10 and 19 hours a week have a stronger academic performance than other students – working or not – “showing that an optimal work-study balance provides structure and discipline that are harder to acquire if working too few or too many hours”.

In Latvia, Poland and Turkey, more than 60% of students who were employed worked 35 hours a week or more.

Countries in which a large share of 15-29 year-olds were employed and studied at the same time usually showed low proportions of students working 35 hours or more per week, the report says. “More than 25% of students were working in Denmark, Iceland and the Netherlands, but less than 20% of them worked 35 or more hours per week.”

Austria and Germany are different because of the prevalence of work-study programmes, which involve about half of all working students. About one in five young adults was both studying and working in the two countries in 2013, and about half of them were working 35 hours a week or more.

In the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden about half or more of the 15-29 year-olds working during their studies in 2013 worked nine hours or less per week.

In Canada, Iceland and the United States, more than half of employed students worked between 10 to 34 hours per week, while in Greece, Hungary and Italy the proportion of young people who were in education and in employment was below 5%.

University World News

Federal Promise Unveiled

Federal Promise Unveiled

January 12, 2015

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- President Obama traveled here Friday to make his first full-fledged pitch for tuition-free community college, as White House officials confirmed that the ambitious proposal would cost about $60 billion over the next decade.

Speaking to several hundred students and faculty at Pellissippi State Community College, Obama presented hisplan as an economic imperative. He also said it was based on responsibility -- of individual students, of colleges and of states in boosting their spending on higher education.

“This isn’t a blank check. It’s not a free lunch,” Obama said. “But for those who are willing to do the work, and states that want to be a part of this, it can be a game-changer.”

Free Tuition on "This Week"
Gail O. Mellow, president of LaGuardia Community College, and Robert Kelchen, an expert on higher education finance, will discuss President Obama's proposal Friday on "This Week,"Inside Higher Ed's free news podcast. Sign up here for notification of new "This Week" podcasts.

The most important player in the short run, though, will be Congress, which needs to approve the $6 billion-a-year proposal.

Obama’s trip to Pellissippi, which is on the western outskirts of Knoxville, comes as part of a several-state tour to preview the themes of his State of the Union address later this month. During the speech he will address a Congress controlled completely by Republicans for the first time in his presidency.

Some of Obama’s largest higher education accomplishments in his first term -- such as boosting spending on federal Pell Grants and switching to 100 percent direct lending, ending federal bank-based student loans -- were hard-fought but approved by a Congress that likely was far friendlier to the administration’s agenda than the current one, controlled completely by Republicans.

More on the Obama Plan

  • Two-year-college leaders like the plan, but some experts worryabout details and whether the money could be more targeted.
  • The president's free community college plan may change the balance between the federal government, states and colleges.

The president’s trip to Tennessee appeared to reflect the new political dynamics the administration faces as it begins its final two years in office. And his visit raised, to some extent, the prospect that college access and affordability is an area on which Obama may be able to work with Congressional Republicans.

The president chose to make his community college pitch in a state that is led by a Republican governor, Bill Haslam, who not only has been praised widely for his innovation in higher education but who has also played ball with the administration.

Haslam last year participated in the White House’s higher education summit. He has praised the U.S. Department of Education's controversial new teacher preparation regulations. And, separately, he is negotiating with the Obama administration on a compromise Medicaid expansion for his state.

Speaking before Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, who also made remarks, Haslam alluded to that bipartisanship. He said while Democrats and Republicans may disagree on how to approach income inequality, they can agree that community colleges are vital to economic growth.

In an unusual display, the state’s two Republican senators, both of whom are assuming powerful roles as committee chairmen in the new Congress, traveled with the president to the event.

Obama spoke in a building named after Sen. Lamar Alexander, the former education secretary and governor, who has said he’s open to working with the administration on higher education issues. For his part, Obama said he would join Alexander in seeking to simplify the federal student aid application.

“It just shouldn’t be that hard to apply for aid for college,” Obama said. noting that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, includes more than 100 questions.

“That’s something we should be able to agree on,” he added. “Let’s get that done this year.”

Alexander and Sen. Bob Corker, who is now chair of the Senate foreign relations committee, were seated next to Ted Mitchell, the under secretary who oversees higher education policy at the Education Department.

Despite the bipartisan overtures on Friday, though, the administration’s’ community college plan will undoubtedly be a tough sell in Congress.

Alexander, who chairs the Senate education committee, told reporters after Obama’s speech that he was glad the president was promoting the Tennessee Promise but said he was pursuing the “wrong way” to expand it.

“That’s the difference between Democrats and Republicans,” Alexander said. “Republicans look at a good idea and want to expand it state-by-state. Democrats look at a good idea and want to make it a federal program operated from Washington.”

If states create their own version of the Tennessee program, he said, the boost in community college enrollment would mean the federal government would have to pay for more Pell Grants. Alexander said he would be willing to find the funding to support that increase.

House Republicans went further in criticizing Obama’s plan. Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman said that the idea “seems more like a talking point than a plan.”

Rep. John Kline, the Minnesota Republican who chairs the House education committee, said in a statement that the president was “proposing yet another multi-billion dollar federal program that will compete with existing programs for limited taxpayer dollars.”

Support from Senate Dems, Trouble for For-Profits?

Some Senate Democrats, meanwhile, rallied around the president’s proposal, which will be formally included as part of the administration’s budget request to Congress next month.

Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate’s education committee, said she backed the plan.

“Expanding access to college and making it more affordable is a ticket to the middle class for millions of students across the country," she said in a written statement. "I look forward to working with President Obama and my colleagues to make this goal a reality."

Sen. Dick Durbin, an outspoken critic of for-profit education, said he was pleased the president was promoting community colleges as “a more affordable, higher quality alternative to for-profit colleges.”

Many programs at for-profit colleges often compete directly with those at local community colleges. The Obama proposal is aimed both at two-year programs that are a stepping stone to bachelor’s degrees as well as at occupational training certificates.

For-profit analysts said the plan, which is aimed at expanding community college capacity nationwide, would be a negativefor the for-profit sector's revenues.

Community college advocates heaped praise on the Obama plan, which they said reflects the most dramatic action yet by this administration to boost their institutions. Some, however, remained concerned about the plan's details, many of which have yet to be released.

Even if the plan fails to attract enough support in Congress, its lasting effect might be in advancing the President’s message that some form of higher education is for everyone.

In Knoxville, community college officials said one success of their statewide tuition-free program and its county-run predecessor has been a shift in how the public approaches their institutions.

Pellissippi State President Anthony Wise said that before the programs, the majority of students registered for classes only shortly before they began.

“We’d have kids show up the day before classes,” he said. “It was like: ‘who decided to go to college today?’ ”

The scholarship programs, which require students to commit to attending college far earlier and do more serious planning, he said, have boosted completion rates.

David Key, who has been a professor of history at Pellissippi State for the past 12 years, looked on from the audience as many of his students stood behind the president during his announcement.

“I think this could become a cornerstone of higher education policy, much like what the Pell Grant was in the past,” he said of the Obama plan. “If our college and our county had a small part to play in that, we’re just proud.”

Spring Admission to US Colleges and Universities

Want to study in the US? Want to gain admission to a top university in the USA? Best advice: Start early! Unlike other countries, admission to US universities takes a long time.  Not only that, applying to US colleges and universities is complex.  They need a number of documents, like visa, transcripts, letters of references, essays, test scores, and financial documents. Many international students think they will wait till they get their test scores. This is not recommended. Top universities in the US have deadlines as early as December for admission for next August! So if you want to study in the US and if you want to get admission to a top university in the US, start the process at least 10 months in advance! Have questions? Visit our Facebook page ( and post your question. You will get a prompt answer!

Dr. Gupta is CEO of, a company that helps international students who wish to study in the US.