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Articles: Financial Services

Elizabeth Riddle is the director of OnCampus Research, a division of The National Association of College Stores.

Conventional wisdom tells us students aren’t buying course materials because they are too expensive. They are forced to drop or not take classes or go without needed materials. But research tells a different story.

College boost: Students in Housatonic Community College’s Family Economic Security Program attend retreats to learn career skills such as public speaking and networking.

An act as simple as handing out bottled water and granola bars before a long evening class can change the course of a college career—especially when the student on the receiving end is a single mother who has just rushed over to campus after a full day at work.

Some low-income high school students in Adams State University’s service area, the rural valleys of southern Colorado, live up to 50 or 60 miles from campus. Thanks to a new federal pilot program, these students there and 43 other institutions can now use Pell Grants to take dual-enrollment courses.

Revenue alone doesn’t drive every real estate initiative. Higher ed institutions involved in development, typically off-campus, also consider the economic revitalization of a blighted surrounding neighborhood and initiatives that support the core mission.

Herman Bulls is vice chairman of JLL Americas, specializing in delivering comprehensive real estate solutions to federal, state and local governments, nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions.

The phrase “town and gown” is rooted in the notion that universities and the surrounding communities are naturally at odds. But forward-looking colleges and universities are finding deep value in blurring those lines, and instead are leveraging mixed-use developments to improve the community and campus alike.

The Consumer Financial ProtectionBureau’s forthcoming “Payback Playbook” intends to simplify the student loan repayment process by presenting clear, customized repayment options.

In April, the agency offered a sneak peek. The initiative will provide borrowers with simple repayment plan options any time they log into their student loan account. The Playbook summary will also be included with their monthly loan bills or in regular emails from their student loan servicers.

Administrators, faculty members and campus staff have been ordering all sorts of supplies from Amazon.com for years, but it was only recently that the e-tailing colossus jumped formally into the higher ed and business-to-business procurement market. And some in the procurement world see benefits ahead.

Celebrating while educating: At Manhattan College, the student group Fuerza Latina performs to share Latin American and Caribbean culture with others.

Three federal grant programs support colleges that qualify as Hispanic-Serving Institutions, or HSIs. The funding covers student support services and other initiatives—such as professional development to train administrators, faculty and staff to work more effectively with students whose first language may not be English.

Just 30 percent of financial aid professionals reported using social media to provide financial literacy content to students.

Financial aid offices that invest time on the major platforms say social media lightens the workload. On a higher level, social networks represent another way to provide students with financial literacy education that can advance institutional goals, including better retention and lower cohort default rates.

Say cheese: Most University of Alabama students avoid waiting in line at the Action Card office for an ID by submitting their application online. For anyone unable to access that system or who needs a replacement card, the office is ready to assist.

Regardless of the size of the staff or office, efficient campus card programs share several best practices: A focus on customer service, cutting-edge technology and collaboration with the campus community and beyond.

Community colleges have been in the news during the current election cycle, due to plans by some politicians—including President Obama and Sen. Bernie Sanders—who suggest the federal government should provide free education for any citizen willing to put in the bookwork.

But so far this is just talk for colleges, which have yet to plan for the contingency of becoming a gratis educational option for the populace.

Intentional Endowments Network supports investment practices that produce financial returns while addressing environmental, social, governance and sustainability factors.

With college students increasingly calling on schools to divest endowments from fossil fuels, Becker College in Massachusetts became the first institution to mandate that all of its investments generate a positive impact on society—and a targeted financial return.

The new higher education alliances cropping up are not just of the regional variety.

A group of private colleges and universities created a consortium in fall 2015 to negotiate better deals on enterprise resource planning systems, which can account for up to 4 percent of an institution’s entire annual budget. The Higher Education Systems and Services Consortium (HESS) now has 65 members located in 15 states.

Jon McGee, vice president for planning and public affairs at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, says many colleges and universities are too focused on the present to prepare for the changes ahead.

In his book, Breakpoint: The Changing Marketplace for Higher Education, Jon McGee says higher education is in the midst of an extraordinary transitional period that has significant implications for how colleges understand their mission, their market and their management.

Being able to draw from the endowment is important for an institution like Berea College because of its no-tuition promise. Students are required to work as they attend school, with assignments such as greeting guests at the Historic Boone Tavern Hotel.

On average, academic institutions spend between 4.5 and 5 percent of their endowments annually. But when endowment returns are way down, it’s not exactly prudent to spend the same percentage of the endowment with the assumption that target investment payoff percentages will return.

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