Which Colleges are Greenest?

E Magazine: “It’s no surprise that College of the Atlantic, established in 1969 as the first American college to focus primarily on the relationship between humans and the environment, has topped the Princeton Review’s Guide to 399 Green Colleges for three years running. With only 350 students and 35 faculty members, small classes and focused learning are the norm at COA, which has been churning out environmental leaders for five decades. It became the first carbon-neutral college in 2007 and plans to be completely rid of fossil fuels on campus by 2030.”

“At the #2 school on the ‘green colleges’ list, SUNY Syracuse’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry, students and faculty work together on developing innovative solutions to environmental challenges and can focus on applying what they learn in internships reserved for them with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation … Next on the list, UVM has incorporated sustainability into campus policies and curricula for decades, but has recently shown renewed leadership with its Sustainable Entrepreneurship program and campus-wide commitment to waste reduction and energy conservation. UVM has been sourcing all of its energy from renewables since 2015, with solar panels all over campus to make the most of the fleeting Vermont sun.”

“Some other schools with excellent environmental studies and science programs include Antioch, Reed, Middlebury, Colby, Colorado College, Montana State, Evergreen State, Pomona, and the universities of Idaho, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.”

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Which Colleges are LGBT-Friendly?

US News: “Finding the right fit is important for any college student; for the LGBT community, that especially rings true. Historically marginalized and discriminated against, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is now embraced at many colleges across the US … Institutional commitment, experts agree, is key to determining how well LGBT students fare on a college campus. To gauge this commitment, students should look at factors such as housing and restroom policies, curriculum, resources and representation … LGBT advocates say that one important starting point for prospective students is to examine a college’s nondiscrimination policies. To find a college’s nondiscrimination policy, search online using that term and the school name.”

“Open housing allows students to live with a roommate of their choice regardless of gender identity. For transgender and nonbinary students, this makes housing less complicated … Bathrooms are another important aspect of the physical environment for transgender and nonbinary students. Many schools list bathroom policies online. If that policy is unavailable on the college website, students can check with an admissions officer or a school’s LGBT center – if it has one – for clarification.”

“Though same-sex marriage is legal across all states now, policies can still vary on other issues of importance for the LGBT community. Some states offer more protections than others, with laws that prohibit employment and housing discrimination against LGBT individuals, bar conversion therapy, offer state health benefits to eligible transgender citizens and more … But a state’s record on LGBT issues is not necessarily indicative of how a campus in that state welcomes and supports that community. Oberlin College, for example, is well known for being LGBT-friendly, despite Ohio scoring in the lowest category of the 2018 State Equality Index, a state-by-state overview of LGBT protections put out by Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group.”

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FAFSA Doesn’t Budge Even With Nudge

Inside Higher Ed: “A study by economists at five universities, released this month by the National Bureau for Economic Research, suggests that consistently nudging incoming and current college students to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) had no effect on college enrollment or financial aid recipient rates. Researchers tested a campaign on two distinct groups of students — high school seniors who applied to college using the Common Application and college students of all levels (incoming, applied but did not enroll, currently enrolled and dropouts) who applied within an undisclosed large state system.”

“Previous research has shown the success of nudging on a smaller scale from sources familiar to students, like advisers or local community organizations, Rosinger said. But for this study, the researchers tested whether nudging would be effective through state- and national-level organizations with broader reaches, like the Common Application, which is one possible reason the outreach didn’t garner results … Another possible explanation for the null results, the study argues, is that information about FAFSA submission is distributed more widely by other sources than in the past, and students don’t need the additional information or assistance these nudges attempted to provide.”

“Nudging efforts are particularly aimed to provide support that’s absent when disadvantaged students’ parents or high schools are not as involved in the college application process … but text message reminders are much less effective than sitting down with an adult to complete the FAFSA.”

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When Colleges Become Universities

Boston Globe: “Boston College and Dartmouth College are well-known for both their undergraduate and graduate degree programs, but neither has expressed interest in a university makeover. But many smaller colleges don’t have that widespread reputation, and this is a way to stand out, college presidents said. ‘We’re laying the foundation for future growth and sustainability in the face of the challenges,’ said Francesco Cesareo, the president of Assumption College … Assumption will be restructuring and expanding its programs into specific schools, adding administrative positions, such as deans, to the campus, and expanding its athletics offerings, as part of the university conversion.”

“Overseas students, who are appealing to institutions since they pay more to attend, are familiar with the university label, while colleges suggest more vocational-type education in many countries, experts said. That can make it more difficult for American colleges to explain their value and offerings when they are trying to recruit internationally.’

“For Simmons University, the transformation of its campus into four distinct colleges has helped recruit a higher caliber of administrators and leaders to the school … Whether it will attract more students, bring in more money, and ultimately help the university withstand the fiscal and demographic pressures is less certain.”

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Syracuse Pushes Back on ‘Party School’ Ranking

NY Post: “Syracuse University is the nation’s top college — when it comes to partying. The Orange earned the high marks based on a survey of 140,000 students by the Princeton Review … The review, available this week, ranked the schools based on drug and alcohol use, study time and Greek life. In all, the schools are judged under 58 separate categories, with Syracuse placing second in the ‘lots of hard liquor’ category and eighth in ‘lots of beer’ — not that it was the only school where students were hitting the bottle instead of the books … The University of Alabama, the University of Delaware, West Virginia University and Tulane University ranked second through fifth, respectively.”

“The party tag didn’t sit too well with Syracuse officials, who said in a statement that the Princeton Review missed the mark. ‘By all measures, our student experience is rooted in the programs and services available to facilitate both personal and professional success — while at Syracuse University and beyond,’ the statement said. The school said the Princeton party list is not ‘a reflection of our distinctive approach to education.'”

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Budgeting for College Applications

CNBC: “As college costs rise, some students apply to a laundry list of schools to increase their odds of getting into one they can afford. Yet doing so can leave families with another large tab … The average college application costs around $50, according to SavingForCollege.com. At some colleges you can expect to pay much more — Stanford University’s application fee, for example, is $90 … Families should decide on a budget for college applications — say, $250 … That will not only help keep costs under control but also force students to whittle down their list of schools.”

“Some colleges will let you skip the application fee if you demonstrate merit or financial need. CollegeBoard has a list of schools that accept application-fee waivers. The National Association of College Admission Counseling has a form you can use to request the waiver. Many colleges will waive their application fee if you apply online.”

“A third of students apply to six or more colleges, and 15% apply to 10 or more.”

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Top 10 Schools for Financial Aid

CNBC: “Yes, annual tuition plus room and board at four-year, private universities is much higher — $48,510, on average — compared to public institutions — at just $21,370 — in the current academic year, according to the College Board. However, about two-thirds of all full-time students receive aid, which can bring the sticker price significantly down … The Princeton Review ranked colleges by how much financial aid is awarded and how satisfied students are with their packages. The report is based on data collected from fall 2018 through summer 2019.”

“The top schools for financial aid are all private and have sky-high sticker prices, yet their very generous aid packages make them surprisingly affordable.” The top 10 are: Bowdoin, Vanderbilt, Washington University in St. Louis, Princeton, Yale, Rice, Grinnell, Thomas Aquinas, Vassar, and Gettysburg.”

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Which Colleges Have the Coolest Dorms?

Business Insider: “With the price of college rising, some schools around the country are trying entice new students with apartment style living, fancy recreational facilities, and even free laundry.” For example: “All first- and second-year Santa Clara students are required to live in what Santa Clara calls, ‘Residential Learning Communities’ … The eight Residential Learning Centers each have their own theme, like ‘innovation and integrity,’ or ‘service and community.’ These themes are meant to instill a sense of community and identity to each of the dorms. For juniors and seniors, the school offers luxury University Villas, so you’ll never have to travel far to get to class.”

“By simply using an app, students living in Rice University’s dorms can save precious time … and have their clothes washed, dried, and folded at no cost. Upon move in, students receive a large anti-bacterial laundry bag with a barcode that lets the students track their clothes along their path to cleanliness … Most Bowdoin first years will initially live in underclass residence halls, but they’re all encouraged to eventually apply to one of the school’s eight College Houses. Described as ‘the living room’ of campus, the houses host social programs and mentorship opportunities throughout the year.”

“Students at Scripps College are treated to a refined living experience. Many of the ten residence halls on campus are furnished with ornate furniture and regal carpets. Some of the halls have outdoor communal areas where students can socialize around red tiled lined fountains or hang out around outdoor balconies. Several of the residence halls even have living rooms with communal pianos … Bennington takes the idea of a cramped, institutionalized dorm room and throws it out the window, opting instead for ‘houses’ of 30 to to 45 students. Each house includes a full living room, kitchen, and washers and dryers. Most of the homes even have cozy fireplaces.”

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Financial Aid Can Change Over Time

MarketWatch: “Grants and scholarships are the best ways to pay for college because you don’t have to repay them. But if you chose a college because it offered you the most free money, your final bill may end up bigger than you thought.” For example: “All of the scholarships listed on your financial-aid award letter may not be available to you next year … some schools award incoming freshmen a one-time scholarship for visiting the college’s campus or interviewing with the school … Other scholarships are renewable if you meet specific requirements. These may include maintaining a particular grade point average, choosing a certain major or following the school’s code of conduct. Review your scholarships to see which are renewable, and make sure you meet their terms.”

” Typically, schools aspire to maintain overall awards from year to year … But the types of financial aid within that award may change. For example, students have higher federal student loan limits after their first year in school. To account for this, a college could replace a grant with a loan of an equal amount for your sophomore year … Other changes to your financial circumstances could lead to you losing aid altogether. For example, say your older sibling graduates or moves out of your parents’ house while you are enrolled. The financial aid calculation now sees your family as having more available income, which increases the amount you’re expected to pay out of pocket.”

“Even if you receive the same amount of aid year after year, it may feel like less because your college’s costs increased. On average, tuition and fees have risen roughly 3% annually over the past 10 years, based on data from the College Board … Planning ahead is the best way to prevent these additional costs from catching you by surprise. To help predict future tuition and fee increases at your own school, look it up on the College Navigator website.”

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Colgate Replaces Student Loans with Grants

Syracuse.com: “Colgate University is launching a new ‘no student loan’ approach to tuition for qualifying families on its Hamilton campus … Starting this fall, the college is eliminating loans from its financial aid offers to all current and incoming students with a family income of up to $125,000, officials said. Colgate will offer grants to students who qualify to replace the loans, officials aid. Students and families who want to take out loans to cover the cost of books or other expenses can still do so if they choose … About two dozen other colleges offer similar programs, although they all have different family income limits. Some, such as Stanford and Yale, don’t have family income limits.”

“Colgate officials estimate half of the students receiving financial aid at Colgate will benefit. About 46 percent of Colgate students receive financial aid from the college. Funding for this new effort will initially come from the university’s operating budget, but plans are in place for this program to be funded by the college’s endowment and Colgate Fund through fundraising.”

“The average annual federal loan for students receiving financial aid at Colgate is about $2,200, and the average Colgate aid package for current students is about $53,000 a year.
The average debt for Colgate students who graduated in the Class of 2019 was $15,305. The national average is about $30,000.”

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