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Flooding & Power Loss After Irene, Rising College Costs and Dropout Rates: Today on Here and Now

1:06pm: Flooding from rains dumped by tropical storm Irene have isolated entire towns in the Northeast, and some communities are warily watching swollen rivers for signs of cresting. More than 2 and a half million people from North Carolina to Maine lacked electricity today, three days after Irene churned up the Eastern Seaboard. The storm has been blamed for at least 40 deaths in 11 states. One of the hardest hit is Vermont. We get the latest from Candace Page, senior reporter with the Burlington Free Press.

1:12pm: Community College is supposed to take 2 years, but 80% of the students who enroll fail to graduate even after 3 years. The numbers at 4 year colleges are not much better — only half the students who enroll manage to get their Bachelors’ degrees in 6 years. Statistics like those, says reporter Jon Marcus, “have helped push the U.S. from 1st to 10th in the world” for the proportion of college graduates, and “threaten to make this generation of college-age Americans the first to be less-well educated than their parents.” President Obama vowed to reverse this trend with a major speech at Macomb Community College in Michigan 2 years ago. Marcus visited Macomb this year and found that things have actually gotten “much, much worse” for public and community college students — severe budget cuts have translated into higher tuition and fees and less financial aid, forcing students to work more while they go to school. The budget cuts also mean fewer classes, making it harder for students to find room in required courses. We’ll speak with Marcus about what he found out.

1:50pm: Getting caught up in fictional lives, whether in a book or on TV, or daydreaming about the future may seem like a waste of time. But according to Yale University Psychologist Paul Bloom, getting involved in works of the imagination, whether it be in a daydream or a movie can have value, and people spend more time in that kind of leisure activity as opposed to activities they say they do more, like eating or playing or sex. Bloom writes about the benefits of exploring fantasy worlds as part of his book How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like — and he joins us this hour to explain.

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Local News

Ivy Tech, JCTC Presidents To Attend White House Summit

Two Hoosiers and two Kentuckians will be attend the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges Tuesday in Washington. The summit will be focused mainly on improving education accessibility and attainment.

Among those invited to the summit are Jefferson Community and Technical College president Tony Newberry, Hopkinsville Community College president James Selbe, Ivy Tech student Michael Rice and Ivy Tech president Tom Snyder.

Snyder says he’s not sure what exactly will be discussed, but he hopes Pell Grant reform will be on the agenda.

“The way the system works with Pell Grant financial aid is the more you charge, the more Pell Grant money your students get,” he says. “Well, because we try to keep our costs low, we tend to disadvantage our own ability to grow because it’s a third-party payer system and we’re the low-cost provider.”

Snyder says he expects to field several questions as well, since Ivy Tech is a statewide system, and community college presidents may be looking for new ways to work with campuses in other counties and states.

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Local News

Ivy Tech President, Student Invited To White House Summit

The President of Ivy Tech in Indiana has been invited to a White House summit on community colleges.

Tom Snyder and an Ivy Tech student were invited to speak with other presidents and students, as well as President Barack Obama and Dr. Jill Biden. Snyder says he’s encouraged by the administration’s attention to community colleges because not enough Americans have college degrees or certificates. Snyder says there are three options to remedy the situation.

“Expand the four-year schools that are public and private: that would be very expensive in terms of structure and facilities. Expand the for-profit schools: to me, that would put a huge loan burden on top of students. Or, expand community colleges,” he says.

Snyder says he’s looking forward to discussing changes to Pell Grant awards and new strategies for how community colleges can work across state and county lines. The summit is next Tuesday. Hopkinsville Community College president James Selbe has also been invited.

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Local News

Community College Leaders Asks to be Spared Budget Cuts

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

The president of Kentucky’s community college system is urging lawmakers in Frankfort to spare the system further budget cuts.

Kentucky Community and Technical College President Michael McCall says the 16-college system has instituted efficiencies that are saving taxpayers millions of dollars. It has merged institutions, outsourced textbook sales and held the line on salaries.

“We have not for two years been able to give our employees a single penny more, and their cost of living continues to go up as well,” said McCall.

He testified before a House budget subcommittee, saying the system has endured eight budget cuts since 2001. McCall says the challenge ahead, if more cuts are coming, will be in determining which areas, like workforce or remediation, must suffer because of dwindling resources.

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Local News

Ivy Tech To Hold Hearing On Tuition Hike Proposal

Leaders of Indiana’s community college system will hold a public hearing Thursday on proposed tuition and fee increases for the next two academic years.

Spokesperson Kelly Lucas says after the hearing, Ivy Tech’s Board of Trustees will vote on the plan, under which a student taking 15 credit hours would pay about $80 more per semester in the 2009-2010 school year. The cost would go up slightly the following year.

Lucas says the hearing will be held Thursday morning in Indianapolis, but students don’t have to attend in person to comment on the hikes.

“Individuals are welcome to send in comments via email or written comment to our main office in Indianapolis,” Lucas said.

She says the main reason for the hikes is to hire more full-time faculty and staff for the growing system.

Ivy Tech has 23 campuses throughout the state, including a site in Sellersburg that serves the Louisville area.