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News Brief for the week ending August 8, 2014

Montana University System News:

Montana Tech featured in the Princeton Review Book, "The Best 379 Colleges" - 2015 Edition- Montana Tech is one of the nation's best institutions for undergraduate education, according to The Princeton Review. The education services company features the school in the new 2015 edition of its annual college guide, "The Best 379 Colleges" (Random House / Princeton Review, $23.99, August 5, 2014). Only about 15% of America’s 2,500 four-year colleges and only four colleges outside the U.S. are profiled in the book, which is The Princeton Review's flagship college guide. It includes detailed profiles of the colleges with rating scores for all schools in eight categories, plus ranking lists of top 20 schools in the book in 62 categories based on The Princeton Review's surveys of 130,000 students attending the colleges. Read More
900 Boxes of Baucus' Papers Arrive for Archiving at UM- “A semitrailer carrying the legacy papers of former U.S. Sen. Max Baucus arrived at the University of Montana on Monday, bolstering the school’s already robust legislative collection,” reports the Missoulian. “Crews spent Monday transferring 21 pallets containing more than 900 boxes of Baucus’ papers to the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, where the files will be sorted, archived and eventually made available for research.” “The next step is to take these 900-plus boxes and organize them in a way that makes them accessible for future research,” said Donna McCrea, head of the library’s archives and special collections. “It’s going to be a multiyear process.” Read More

MSU Hosting 68th Annual University Film & Video Association Conference- “Film schools from across the nation will be represented when Montana State University hosts the 68th annual University Film & Video Association conference, Wednesday through Saturday,” reports the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. “The UFVA conference will feature award-winning filmmaker Christine Vachon and Sylvia Earle, a National Geographic Society explorer in residence.” Read More

Research Grant to Create ‘Superfood’ Plot at FVCC- Thanks to a grant from the Montana Department of Agriculture, Flathead residents may get to experience some unusual fruits. The $119,000 grant will allow for the growth of small, dark fruits on the Flathead Valley Community College campus. Pat McGlynn, Montana State University agriculture extension agent for Flathead County, said the fruits could be grown on a half-acre and used by local businesses. “It seems like we add a new one every year,” she said. “We have the hop project, the cherries and the grapes.” The agricultural research projects, which have spanned several years, look at the feasibility of growing out-of-area crops in Northwest Montana. These include the hop farm south of Whitefish, which already has benefited local brewers. The other projects McGlynn mentioned, the sweet cherry research project and cold hardy grape project, are all bearing fruit as well. Read More

National News:

Strategies to Improve Student Retention, Success- We spend so much of our time recruiting students that it’s easy to lose sight of what’s most important — ensuring that our students finish what they start. The staff at Florida’s St. Petersburg College (SPC) has heard me say many times that access to education changes perceptions, but degrees and certificates change lives. Good, sound research tells us that a college credential improves a person’s earning potential, decreases the chance of unemployment, and enhances overall quality of life. In fall 2012, our institution undertook what we hoped would be a game-changing initiative for our students called the College Experience: Student Success. Our goal was simple: Give our students the support they need to earn the degree or certificate that would change their lives. Read More

Streamline Consumer-Information Process, Says Financial-Aid Group- A nine-member panel was convened by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators to study federal requirements for consumer-information disclosure. The panel recommended 15 improvements in federal disclosure rules to “streamline both the content and delivery of those requirements.” The panel recommended that lawmakers: Read More

Is Student Debt Harmful to Your Health? A New Study Raises the Possibility- College students who borrow large sums of money are not just more likely to struggle financially; they’re also more likely to report worse health and a lesser sense of purpose, even decades after they graduate. That’s according to a new survey of more than 11,000 adults who graduated from 1990 to 2014, 59 percent of whom had undergraduate student debt. The survey—which was conducted by the Gallup-Purdue Index, a collaboration between the polling firm and Purdue University—asked graduates to assess whether they were "thriving," "struggling," or "suffering" in several aspects of their lives. Read More

A Plan to Relax PLUS-Loan Restrictions Spurs a Debate on Default- Supporters say the new rules would expand access to college for low-income students, but skeptics worry the rules could saddle poor borrowers with unmanageable debt, driving up defaults. The draft rules, which hew closely to a compromise crafted by negotiators this past spring, would loosen the Education Department’s underwriting criteria, making an estimated 370,000 more parents and graduate students eligible for the loans. The plan is good news for historically black colleges and universities, which were hit hard by changes in the criteria that the department made in 2011. After the department tightened its standards, denial rates on PLUS loans spiked, and some of the institutions saw sharp drops in enrollment. Read More

Andrea Opitz/Outreach Coordinator

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