Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Needy students squeezed at UMass Amherst

Once again we encounter the sense of entitlement that leftists encourage.  Some students think they are entilted to go to Amherst simply because they want to.  The reality is that  Amherst charges high fees in order to pay for what it takes to support its vast facilities and elite reputation. 

But poor students are not deprived of a good education.  They could go to UMass Lowell with very little out-of-pocket costs. Lowell is a big, selective, well established research-based university in a pleasant riverine location that will give you all you need if you have the ability.  And Lowell is much closer to Boston

Until recently, Massachusetts students of limited means could readily find a path to the state’s flagship public university and earn a degree that would likely catapult them up the economic ladder. But increasingly, the University of Massachusetts Amherst is moving out of reach for the state’s best and brightest if they don’t have a big enough bank account.

Rising tuition costs, fewer federal loan options, and a dip in financial aid have left some high school seniors in Massachusetts struggling this year to come up with thousands of additional dollars to pay for tuition.

After federal loans, institutional aid, and work-study money have been factored in, some of the neediest admitted freshmen will still have to come up with $8,130 on average this year if they want a seat at UMass Amherst, compared with $5,500 each of the last two years — a 48 percent increase. For some, that out-of-pocket expense is even bigger.

“This is not a good look. . . . A public university is supposed to be affordable,” said Kevin Fudge, the director of consumer advocacy at American Student Assistance, who is advising a single mother who has to finance $14,000 in costs annually to send her daughter to UMass Amherst. “A $14,000 bill for a high-needs student at a public university is pretty surprising. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I hope it’s not the start of a new trend.”

UMass Amherst officials said the university continues to support low-income state students and offers a much more generous financial aid package than many other flagship schools across the country.

“We stack up well,” to other large public universities, said Ed Blaguszewski, a UMass Amherst spokesman, when it comes to helping its low-income students. “Our commitment to this is longstanding.”

But officials acknowledge that the financial burden on families climbed for the incoming freshmen class. University officials blamed several factors.

The estimated in-state tuition for UMass Amherst for the upcoming school year increased by about $1,300, or more than 4 percent over last year, to $31,330. In addition, the federal government ended the Perkins Loan program, which provided low-interest loans of about $1,000 to needy students. The school also slightly decreased the need-based grants it offers students by $250 to $15,700.

Taken together, that means the neediest freshmen will have to cover on average about $8,130 of the costs annually, according to UMass Amherst’s calculations.

That spike is much higher than at UMass Lowell.

Incoming needy freshmen will have to cover $2,600 of the tuition costs at the Lowell campus this fall, compared to $2,200 last year and $1,950 in 2016.

UMass Amherst has traditionally been more competitive and expensive than the other campuses, such as UMass Lowell and UMass Boston. But Lowell also provides more grants and institutional aid on average to its needy students, about $18,820 to offset the $29,920 in tuition and fees.

UMass Lowell officials said the school also hasn’t relied heavily on the Perkins Loan and stopped automatically offering it to incoming students in 2015, because of fears the government would end the program.

For low-income students aiming for UMass Amherst, the options are limited, college admissions counselors said.

They can choose to take on more debt, such as parent-student loans or private loans. They can also apply for as many scholarships as possible in the hope of covering the difference between the costs at UMass Amherst and the aid the school has offered them. Or they can take on a part-time job.

“I worked really hard all high school to be hit with this reality, ‘Oh, you can’t afford it,’ ” said Yaleiny Feliz, a senior at Margarita Muñiz Academy in Jamaica Plain. “It feels that there’s such a heavy burden on students who are low income. It’s a setup for failure.”

Feliz, whose mother is a medical assistant and still paying off her own student loans, received grants and a federal loan to help offset the cost but was still left to pay $8,000 on her own next year.

This week, she learned that a scholarship will help her cover some of those costs; she will also have to take out a more expensive unsubsidized federal loan.

Across the country, students such as Feliz are increasingly having to scramble to afford their state’s flagship public university or are being shut out, said Stephen Burd, a senior policy analyst with New America, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

Faced with declining financial support from state legislators, many of these universities are directing their limited financial aid dollars to attract wealthier students, many of them from out-of-state, who will pay more in tuition and help the campus climb up in the competitive rankings, burnishing their reputations, Burd said.

“Public flagship universities were meant to serve the children of all of the citizens in a state, not just the financial elite,” Burd said. “Unfortunately, more and more of these institutions are increasingly spending financial aid to attract wealthy students, while closing their doors to those who need the help the most.”

UMass Amherst continues to spend a bulk of its nearly $100 million in institutional aid money on low-income students, and more than three-quarters of its undergraduates are from Massachusetts. But the school’s share of money devoted to students without need has been climbing dramatically in recent years.

In 2016, 26 percent of the scholarships and grant funds awarded by UMass Amherst went to students who didn’t need money, up from just 8 percent in 2010, according to statistics the campus has reported. The number of freshmen without need who were awarded financial aid increased from almost 370 students in 2010 to more than 1,320 students during that same period.

These more economically well-off, out-of-state students are bringing in revenue to UMass Amherst and helping to lower costs for the state’s students, said James Roche, the university’s vice provost of enrollment.

The university this school year spent $30 million on merit aid to offset tuition costs for out-of-state undergraduates. But those students also brought in $85 million through net revenue, according to UMass Amherst. “The out-of-state students are supporting the lower tuition for in-state students,” Roche said. “It makes the whole institution stronger.”

Still, for Vivian Du, a senior at Malden High School, the price of UMass Amherst after she received her financial aid package came as sticker shock. She will have to take out about $8,000 in federal and private loans annually, even after getting a private $5,000 annual scholarship, Du said.

“It’s really hard,” Du said. “It’s my top choice, and I have to pay so much money for it. It was not as affordable as I was thinking.”


Teacher Shows Class a Photo of Trump With Mussolini, Caption 'Il Douche'

On Wednesday, a New York City high school teacher showed students a meme  showing President Donald Trump alongside Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, with the captions "Il Duce" below Mussolini and "Il Douche" below Trump. An appalled mother told PJ Media the teacher later apologized, although he said he has showed the image in a lesson about fake news. He had also showed images attacking former President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"My daughter is a 9th grader, she sent me a photo of this meme with Mussolini and President Trump displayed in her social studies classroom," the mother, who opted to remain anonymous, told PJ Media. "She couldn't tell me why it was displayed other than the fact that they are studying world dictators"

The mother, disgusted, reached out to authorities. "I was appalled, contacted the teacher, principal and school board via email," she told PJ Media. "Her social studies teacher called me after I sent the email, agreeing with me the image is disgraceful and stating he was using this image to help teach the kids about fake news."

According to the teacher, he had also shown "a photo of former President Obama and Mussolini. He also said it is sad to see the lack of respect displayed for our leaders this day and age."

"I told him his point of fake news was not made clear in class and should be reiterated the following day," the mother recalled.

"I have not heard from the principal or the school board regarding the inappropriate classroom content, but did send them all a follow-up email," she told PJ Media. "My email restated what the teacher said, then made a suggestion to use something more tactful such as populist.tv to teach the students how to spot fake news."

The mother, shaken, concluded that she has no other option than to trust the teacher's version of events. "At this point I must take his word and keep a watchful eye on the content in the classroom," she concluded.

To some degree, her daughter's account verified the teacher's story. "She did say there were memes up before this particular one with Hillary Clinton dressed as Hitler. She was uncomfortable and it seemed the other students were as well," the mother said.

On Thursday, the teacher apologized to the class, the mother told PJ Media. "The teacher apologized to the class today because of an outraged parent, saying he was wrong for displaying this sort of 'fake news.'"

Needless to say,  Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Barack Obama aren't comparable to dictators like Adolf Hitler and Bento Mussolini.

Benito Mussolini ranks among the worst dictators in world history. He infamously teamed up with Adolf Hitler, even going so far as sending Jews to the concentration camps. He reportedly killed 80,000 in the Pacification of Libya, 661,500 in Italian-occupied Ethiopia, and 153,200 Italian civilians, including the Jews he killed at Hitler's request. All told, he was responsible for nearly 900,000 deaths.

As for the captions, Mussolini was referred to as "Il Duce," a title that translates to "the leader." A douche, by contrast, is a device to shoot water inside a woman's vagina in order to clean it. While comparing Trump and Mussolini is offensive enough, the insulting caption put that meme into another disgusting category.

As for populist.tv, it is a site dedicated to fighting fake news, founded by investigative journalist Lee Stranahan. Stranahan has written for Breitbart News, The Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Sputnik, a Russian government-controlled news agency. For this reason, populist.tv may prove a rather controversial alternative.

Teachers should know better than to give such offensive memes airtime in class — whether they attack Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in such a way. At least this teacher did not just display offensive memes against one side, and at least he apologized the very next day.

Students should learn about fake news, but there are many examples far less offensive and more fitting for the classroom.


University of Florida is forced to apologize after black and minority graduates were SHOVED off stage by a white faculty member while they celebrated

It appears that he was not in tune with the African tendency for celebratory dance

The University of Florida is facing allegations of racism after a faculty member forcibly yanked several minority students off the stage during their graduation ceremony.

Shocking video shows the graduates walk across the stage to receive their diplomas as their names are called.

But when some students take a moment to do a celebratory dance, a white male in regalia aggressively grabs them to move them along.

The videos has sparked outrage by alumni, parents and current students who claim the staff member was only physical with black and other minority students.

The incident forced the University of Florida president to issue an apology for the 'inappropriately aggressive' behavior.

Throughout Saturday's two-and-half-hour graduation ceremony the man, who has not been named by the school, is seen hurrying students of all ethnicities along as their names are called.

It appears his role was to make sure the students were orderly and swiftly walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.

However, he may have been getting impatient near the end as he aggressively grabs and shoves several of male and female students when they stop to do a victory dance.

Those at the graduation posted video footage on Twitter, sparking outrage as people claimed that he was discriminating and only acted excessively violent with the black students.

One Twitter-user wrote: 'Every time a Black student took more than TWO seconds, he aggressively pushed them.'

An alumni wrote that she is 'completely disgraced at the treatment of these students who earned their spot on that stage.' 

University of Florida president Kent Fuch issued an apology on Twitter early Sunday morning.

It reads: 'During one of this weekend’s commencement ceremonies, we were inappropriately aggressive in rushing students across the stage. I personally apologize, and am reaching out to the students involved.

'The practice has been halted for all future ceremonies, and we will work to make sure all graduating students know we are proud of their achievements and celebrate with them their graduation.'

Even then, 1985 graduate Todd Simmons raised his concern over the 'practices' the the president was referring to.

Simmons, who is also Associate Vice Chancellor for University Relations at North Carolina A&T State University, responded in a tweet.

'I appreciate your candor. I [would] also respectfully suggest an inquiry is in order regarding how such a “practice” came to be approved & carried out in the 1st place, w/ what appear to be clear racial differences, in front of thousands. The vids are disturbing,' he wrote.

It is unclear if any action will be taken by the university against the faculty member.


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