Notes in the Margins: Cuba, fund-raising and football studies

Report: First two years of college show small gains Nearly half of the nation’s undergraduates show almost no gains in learning in their first two years of college, a new report shows. (USA Today)

Amid Cuts, Public Colleges Step Up Appeals to Alumni As state legislatures cut back support for higher education, public colleges and universities across the country are turning to their alumni, hat in hand, as never before — hiring consultants, hunting down graduates and mobilizing student phone banks to raise private money in amounts they once thought impossible. (New York Times)

Student Pays Tuition One Dollar at a Time A sophomore at the University of Colorado, Boulder, has paid his entire spring semester tuition — all $14,309.51 of it — using dollar bills, a 50-cent piece and a penny. “It kind of started as a joke,” said Nic Ramos, an economics major.“But when I thought about it more,” he said, “it’s just an absurd amount of money. I wanted to give the school a different way to look at tuition.” (New York Times)

Help with Financial Aid as Reimagined by the MTV Generation The “Get Schooled Affordability Challenge” is a national competition staged by MTV and the College Board, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in which current and aspiring college students were asked to devise better ways to administer and award financial aid. (New York Times)

A Modest Compromise: Colleges Should Offer a Football Major On the surface this seems absurd, but once one moves beyond their disgust at a degree being awarded to Joe Schmoe for attaining a Bachelor of Science, high honors, in Football Studies, the idea is relatively sensible. Many universities offer students the opportunity to major in leisure driven activities such as Theater, Music and Art, with the understanding that the students that major in these disciplines will be prepared to either practice them professionally or otherwise teach them to others upon graduation. (Huffington Post)

Obama Administration Eases Restrictions on Academic Travel to Cuba The Obama administration announced it is lifting tough restrictions on academic travel to Cuba, opening the door to long-awaited educational exchanges to the Communist-ruled country. Mr. Obama’s decision, made public late Friday, will ease constraints on cultural, educational, and religious travel to the island nation. The move overturns regulations imposed in 2004 by President George W. Bush that effectively blocked thousands of American college students from making trips to Cuba. (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Students and Parents Weigh In on ‘Rethinking Student Aid‘ Some findings in a new report provide a new window on how parents and students think about college costs. Among respondents, the most popular proposal was one to have the government send tax filers information each year on how much their children would qualify for in Pell Grants if they were currently in college, as well as cost information for public institutions in their state, and information on other kinds of financial aid. (Chronicle of Higher Education)