Notes in the Margins: Testing teachers, harder majors and confusing aid letters

Testing the Teachers There’s an atmosphere of grand fragility hanging over America’s colleges. The grandeur comes from the surging application rates, the international renown, the fancy new dining and athletic facilities. The fragility comes from the fact that colleges are charging more money, but it’s not clear how much actual benefit they are providing. (The New York Times)

More universities charging more tuition for harder majors More public universities are charging higher tuition for math, science and business programs, which they argue cost more to teach. (USA Today)

Political battle over student loans heating up Democrats and Republicans alike say they want to prevent the cost of federal loans from ballooning for millions of students. But the effort has evolved into an election-year battle each side is using to embarrass the other and spotlight its own priorities to voters. (Associated Press via The Boston Globe)

Cooper Union Will Charge Tuition for Graduate Students After months of agonized debate about its 110-year-old tradition of free education, Cooper Union will begin charging graduate students next year while maintaining, at least for now, its no-tuition policy for undergraduates, the college’s president said Tuesday. (The New York Times)

Colleges Confuse Students With Letters Offering Aid That’s Debt As many high school seniors decide where to go to college, families are struggling to understand financial-aid letters, which can be murky and confusing. While the federal government requires banks and mortgage companies to disclose interest rates and total payments on loans, financial- aid letters for college are unclear about how much families will have to pay. (Bloomberg via NAICU)