Notes & Coffee: January 1 - 7

Notes & Coffee is here to keep you informed of all the trending student affairs and higher ed news stories most critical to our field as they develop. In the age of information overload, we’re here to bring you vetted examinations of the stories that matter to our field. We invite you to brew a favorite morning beverage, kick back, relax, and catch yourself up for the week ahead with Notes & Coffee.  

Proposal would raise the bar for borrowers seeking loan relief – The Department of Education will propose next week that borrowers be required to demonstrate their institution intended to mislead them before they can have their loans discharged. Student advocates say that would effectively mean no borrowers are able to get relief on their student loan debt through a provision of federal statute known as borrower defense to repayment.

Eluding the endowment tax – Picture a mad scramble at wealthy private colleges and universities in the days after the Republican tax reform plan passed Congress, as officials scurried to find ways to dodge or minimize the new excise tax on their endowments. With the legislation kicking in for taxable years starting after Dec. 31, there would have been little time to lose. The tax reform package places an annual 1.4 percent excise tax on net investment income at an estimated several dozen colleges and universities. Specifically, the tax will apply to institutions with at least 500 students and net assets of $500,000 per student. That includes some of the nation's wealthiest colleges, such as Harvard, Stanford and Princeton Universities, but also some that fall under the tax in large part because they have relatively small student bodies, such as Claremont McKenna College.

Estimating the endowment’s tax future – No one is sure exactly how many colleges and universities will have to shell out under a new excise tax in the revamped tax code, as key definitions and details have yet to be decided. But the number seems likely to rise in the future as endowment values grow. So how many more colleges will be paying an excise tax in five years, 10 years or 15 years? An economics professor at Wellesley College has run some numbers to come up with preliminary estimates.

As flow of foreign students wanes, U.S. universities feel the sting – At Wright State University in Ohio, the French horn and tuba professors are out. So is the accomplished swimming team. At Kansas State, Italian classes are going the way of the Roman Empire. And at the University of Central Missouri, The Muleskinner, the biweekly campus newspaper, is publishing online-only this year, saving $35,000 in printing costs. Just as many universities believed that the financial wreckage left by the 2008 recession was behind them, campuses across the country have been forced to make new rounds of cuts, this time brought on, in large part, by a loss of international students.

Many large public universities don’t collect data on suicides, report finds – Forty-three of the largest public universities in the U.S. do not track student suicides, according to recent findings from The Associated Press, despite efforts to improve mental health on campus. Advocates say that without this data, schools can't determine whether those initiatives are working. Since the 1990s, a rising number of college students have been seeking treatment for serious mental health problems, according to the American Psychological Association.

More Notes

The in-and-out list

Teaching conservatism in the age of Trump

The Ph.D. skill mismatch

Libraries and librarians aren’t about to disappear

One strike is enough