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2012 August 20 - 12:00 am

NEWS BRIEFS:

  • Higher One Repaying $11M to Students

WASHINGTON (AP) — Higher One Holdings Inc. has agreed to make restitution for about $11 million to college students for overcharging them for fees on its debit cards and other practices, federal regulators said.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Higher One is also paying a $110,000 civil fine and agreed to change the way it imposes fees. In addition, the FDIC said that Bancorp Bank, which issued the OneAccount debit card administered by Higher One, is paying a $172,000 fine.

Higher One said it began voluntarily refunding the fees in December 2011, and has already returned $4.7 million in fees to students. In addition, the company said it previously has waived about $6 million in fees that were incurred but not yet paid by the cardholders.

Higher One markets bank cards and checking accounts to students through exclusive deals with colleges and universities. Students who use its accounts sometimes pay fees to gain access to their financial aid money. (See related story, page 19)

Higher One violated federal law by charging students multiple fees for overdrawing funds for a single transaction, the FDIC said. The company also allowed debit accounts to remain in overdrawn status for long periods as overdraft fees piled up, and engaged in other deceptive practices, the agency said.

About 60,000 students were charged the fees between 2008 and 2011, according to the FDIC. The restitution may take the form of credits to the accounts of current cardholders and charged-off accounts, or in checks when an account has been closed, the FDIC said.

Higher One and Bancorp Bank neither admitted nor denied legal liability.

  • Teen Pleads Guilty To Taking Test for Others

ABBEVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Prosecutors say a 16-year-old boy has pleaded guilty to taking entry exams for other people at Piedmont Technical College.

Authorities told The Index-Journal of Greenwood that a number of adults were involved in the test taking ring. The U.S. Secret Service is investigating, but did not release details about its probe.

Abbeville County sheriff’s deputies say a test proctor employed by the college helped people pass the test, which could help them become eligible for a Pell Grant.

Investigators say the boy was paid $150 per test. His name
was not released because he is a juvenile. He will be sentenced in Family Court later. Prosecutors say the boy appears to be a pawn in a larger scheme.

  • Mo. Announces Innovation Campus Grants

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri officials are awarding nine grants worth nearly $9 million to create so-called “Innovation Campuses” involving colleges and universities.

The program pairs universities and colleges with businesses to train students for jobs in high-demand fields. It also is aimed at helping students earn their degrees faster and graduate with less debt.

Nixon announced that a campus in central Missouri will focus on information technology with involvement from Lincoln University, Linn State Technical College, area high schools and businesses. It is getting a $1 million grant.

Innovation campuses in Greene County, St. Louis, St. Charles County, St. Joseph, Joplin and Cape Girardeau also are getting $1 million grants. Projects in Johnson County and Rolla are getting just under $1 million.

  • Vt. Foundation Gives $450,000 For Higher Ed

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The J. Warren & Lois McClure Foundation is awarding $450,000 to support post-secondary education in the state.

The McClure Foundation is a part of the Vermont Community Foundation, a collection of hundreds of funds and foundations established by Vermonters to serve their charitable goals.

The mission of the McClure Foundation is to improve access to college and career education for all Vermonters.

The bulk of the money will go to the Community College of Vermont, which will use it for ongoing programs and new initiatives to improve access to college and career education.

McClure Foundation Vice President Barbara Benedict says it's a privilege to build upon ongoing programs such as Introduction to College Studies that are serving students statewide

  • Archeological Dig Resumes at War of 1812 Site

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (AP) — Excavations have resumed at the site along Lake Champlain’s western shore where American troops built an encampment during the War of 1812.

The Press-Republican of Plattsburgh reports that noted War of 1812 archaeologist Timothy Abel is leading a team that includes local teachers and students from an archaeological field class at Clinton Community College in Plattsburgh.

They began digging last summer near the lakeshore at what was believed to be the site of an American encampment in the winter of 1812-13. The work has uncovered military artifacts that confirmed the site as Pike’s Cantonment.

About 2,000 soldiers wintered at the site and some 200 died while there. It was burned by British troops in 1813 after the Americans pulled out.

  • Boston College For Low-Income Women Saved

BOSTON (AP) — A two-year college in Boston that specializes in educating working women from low-income and immigrant backgrounds that had been in danger of closing will open this fall after enough donors came forward to cover a $250,000 budget shortfall.

Urban College officials said that the donors and foundations wished to remain anonymous.

The Boston Globe reports that Peter Ebb, chairman of the school’s trustees, said the expected donations will give the school the time it needs to develop a long-term financial plan.

The college, which opened in 1993 to offer low-cost classes to adults, suffered a financial blow when Congress chose not to reauthorize its $700,000 subsidy last year. That amounted to more than 25 percent of the college’s $2.5 million annual budget.

The college has about 600 students.

  • Ivy Tech Revs Up for New Auto Institute

KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) — Ivy Tech Community College is revving up for a new automotive program that officials say will increase graduation rates and reduce the time it takes students to earn a certificate.

The college is spending nearly $500,000 to create an Automotive Institute in Kokomo after piloting the program on other campuses.

The Kokomo Tribune reports the institute will feature a yearlong program that keeps students in class six to eight hours a day, five days a week.

Students will earn certificates in a year, down from the two years currently required to get the same certificate.

Classes will begin in October and will have 20 students.

Automotive technology program chairman Mike Emy says students will still receive general education lessons but that those will be incorporated into workplace lessons.

  • College Bonds Get Top Billing On Maine Ballot

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — State college campus funding will get the top spot among bond issues on the Nov. 6 Maine ballot, Secretary of State Charlie Summers determined by a drawing.

Maine law requires a drawing process for ballot position. But it also says people’s veto questions must go first, followed by citizen initiatives. That means Question 1 on the ballot will be the initiative on whether the state should issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The first bond question will be whether to borrow $11.3 million for capital improvements for the University of Maine System, community college system and Maine Maritime Academy.

That will be followed by $5 million to purchase land and conservation easements, $51.5 million for improvements to highways, bridges and other transportation facilities, and $7.9 million for clean water projects.

  • Hinds CC Opens Two New Dorms; First in 30 Years

RAYMOND, Miss. (AP) — Hinds Community College has opened two new residence halls on that can accommodate 352 on its campus in Raymond.

The school says in a news release that these are the first new dormitories built on the campus in about 30 years.

The 54,000-square-foot men’s residence hall, Riggs-Virden Hall, has 196 beds. The 46,250-square-foot women’s facility, Allen-Dukes-Whitaker Hall, has 156 beds. Both are full for the fall 2012 semester that began Aug. 13.

The cost for the two residence hall buildings is approximately $15 million, which will be funded by a 30-year revenue bond to be repaid through student room fees.

  • Va. College, University Enter Transfer Pact

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Germanna Community College and the University of Mary Washington have entered an agreement that allows community college students to take classes at the four-year school, and to be admitted if they earn an associate degree and meet grade-point average requirements.

The agreement gives allows eligible Germanna students to transfer to Mary Washington’s bachelor of liberal studies degree program.

The BLS degree is designed for adults who want to major in a traditional arts and sciences discipline and who have either graduated from high school at least six years ago, are veterans or active-duty military members, are married, have legal dependents other than a spouse, or are financially self-supporting.

  • Kan. Gov. Touts Technical Training Program

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Gov. Sam Brownback is promoting a new state program that encourages high school students to get technical training for jobs in industries that need skilled workers.

The Lawrence Journal World reports Brownback visited the Washburn Institute of Technology in Topeka to publicize the $20 million program created this year.

The program covers tuition for high school juniors and seniors taking certain courses at Kansas technical and community colleges. It will also pay public school districts $1,000 for each student who obtains a technical certificate for a high-need occupation.

Those occupations include carpenters, electricians, computer specialists, cement masons and bus and truck mechanics.

  • No Contest Plea Entered in Kan. Coach’s Robbery

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas community college basketball player has pleaded no contest to his role in the robbery of his coach and burglary last year of the coach’s dorm room.

The Hutchinson News reports 20-year-old Quantel Denson of Grandview, Mo., entered the plea in Reno County. The plea agreement in which prosecutors will recommend three years of probation was reached just before a pretrial hearing was to begin.

Denson was accused of giving his dorm key at Hutchinson Community College to co-defendant Daniel Flamma-Sherman of Blue Springs, Mo., who has pleaded no contest to robbery and guilty to aggravated burglary.

Flamma-Sherman was arrested last year after coach Steve Eck saw him stealing his work bag with $1,500 in it from a dorm room at the college.

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