AICUM October Facts of the Month

Lowest Default Rate in the Nation

Did You Know?

Massachusetts has the lowest student loan default rate in the country at 6.4%.


AICUM colleges and universities lead the way with a student loan default rate of 3.74%.


Massachusetts Student Loan Default Rates by Sector

Default Rates

Source: United States Department of Education; 2012 Cohort Default Rates; released 9/30/2015

Did You Know?

  • In FY15, AICUM colleges awarded over $560 million in institutional grants and scholarships to Massachusetts residents.  This need-based aid allows students to borrow less, resulting in more manageable repayment upon graduation.
  • AICUM members are committed to helping students and alumni manage their debt.  Many campuses employ programs like SALT, offered by American Student Assistance, to provide free guidance and counseling to student and alumni on loan management.
  • Massachusetts private colleges lead the nation in graduating students on-time (68.3 percent graduate within 4 years).  This reduces the total cost to students and allows them to enter the workforce faster.
  • New England places a tremendous value on a college degree.  AICUM graduates are able to find good paying jobs quickly upon graduation, which enables them to manage their debt payments more easily.

Posted in Post
AICUM September Facts of the Month


Did You Know?
Massachusetts is the only state in the nation where more students are enrolled at independent institutions of higher education than public institutions 

Enrollment by Sector: Fall 2014

 Enrollment by sectorSource: The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System

Did You Know? 1 out of 2 Massachusetts high school graduates attending a 4-year college in Massachusetts do so at an independent college


First-Time Freshmen 2004-2012



















Source: Postsecondary Education Opportunity


Posted in Post
AICUM Urges Legislature to Support 529 College Savings Plans

Earlier today, AICUM President Richard Doherty testified in front of the state’s Joint Committee on Revenue about helping families save for college.


Families across the Commonwealth can relate to the difficulty of trying to save for your child’s college education in the midst of making ends meet on rent or a mortgage, food, activities for your children and other expenses.


In addition to the 529 College Savings Plans offered on the federal level, most income tax states also offer state level tax incentives to help families save for college. It’s time for Massachusetts – a leader in higher learning – to do the same.


AICUM applauds the lawmakers who have sponsored or co-sponsored legislation that would give the hardworking families of our state a tax break on college savings plans. We all know that college is what puts young people on the road to higher earnings and future success – and studies have shown that having any college savings makes a student more likely to attend a four-year college.


Read our testimony on this issue and my recent op-ed in The Herald News for more details. We look forward to continuing a discussion on this important college savings tool, and we are hopeful that this discussion leads to action for Massachusetts families.

Posted in Post
AICUM Featured on NECN’s DC Dialogue

AICUM President Richard Doherty joined NECN’s DC Dialogue hosts Eileen Curran and New England Council President Jim Brett last week to discuss higher education in New England and related issues before the current Congress and Administration.  Among the topics discussed, Rich provided comment on President Obama’s proposed college ratings plan, the upcoming Higher Education Act reauthorization, financial aid and student loans, higher education tax incentives, and the potential role for colleges and universities in Boston 2024.


Check out the video below and let us know your thoughts on the issues!

Posted in Post
Boston Globe hosts PR Professionals for “AICUM FYI” Session

October 23, 2014


HighRes_120403_ONeill_BradleyFreeman-0037 By Brad Freeman, Director of Public Policy & Advocacy


Massachusetts is home to many of the world’s leading colleges and universities and higher education is a vital component to the state’s economy.  As such, on almost a daily basis, one or more local news outlets carries a story on higher education trends or initiatives on local campuses.  As a result, a key role of the communications office on campus is developing a relationship with higher education desks at local media outlets to help foster inclusion in these stories.


To help facilitate these relationships, AICUM frequently partners with local media outlets to host an “FYI” session where public relations professionals from our colleges can network with editors and reporters, while also learning more about the media outlet’s higher education coverage and story selection processes.  This invaluable information helps communications offices better hone their story pitches to the higher education desk while dovetailing their messages with the interests of the reporter.


Yesterday we hosted an “FYI” with the Boston Globe’s Assistant Metro Editor Roy Greene and higher education reporter Matt Rocheleau.  We were joined by over 40 professionals representing more than 25 of our college and university members.  Roy and Matt opened the “FYI” by offering some insight into the trend stories in higher education that the Globe has focused on this year, which include college affordability, issues related to sexual assault on campus, the emergence of MOOC’s and challenges within higher education.  In addition to covering industry trends, the Globe has a committed interest to covering human interest stories on campus.  As examples, Roy cited recent human interest stories featuring Simmons College and Clark University as successful pitches to the Globe’s higher education desk.

Following their overview, Roy and Matt took questions from attendees and poised some question of their own regarding what trends are percolating on campuses.  This back and forth provided attendees the opportunity to pitch newly-developing trend stories, including the increasing international student presence on campus, implications of the proposed federal ratings system and upcoming research on the Millennial generation.  We look forward to reading about them in a future Globe edition!

Posted in Post
Higher Ed Roundtable with Senator Stan Rosenberg

October 17, 2014




By Richard Doherty, AICUM President



Earlier this week, AICUM held a Presidents’ Only meeting at Emmanuel College, where we were joined by 25 presidents, along with senior staff representing presidents unable to attend. We were also joined by Senator Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst), who is expected to assume the mantle as President of the Senate in January, following the retirement of current Senate President Therese Murray. Senator Rosenberg has long been a strong advocate for higher education and we were pleased that he agreed to join us for 90 minutes to discuss the many critical roles that higher education plays in the state and to explore new ways for our colleges and universities to be of greater assistance to the Legislature and the Commonwealth.


Senator Rosenberg started the discussion by speaking to the indispensable role that institutions of higher education – both public and private – have in the Massachusetts economy. The Senator rightly pointed out that the higher education industry is one of the top four leading industries in Massachusetts (along with health care, financial services, and the life sciences) and directly contributes to the other leading industries, as they are all knowledge-based and thus dependent on an educated workforce.


When discussing the issues of college costs and affordability, Senator Rosenberg said he is committed to working with colleges and universities to explore creative solutions to maintaining affordability and reducing student debt. Building on the work of the Subcommittee on Student Loans and Debt this past legislative session, Senator Rosenberg expects that an omnibus higher education legislative bill will be filed implementing many of the recommendations, including an increase in need-based aid, creating a college savings incentive program, and targeted loan forgiveness. Senator Rosenberg also spoke passionately about the importance of lowering interest rates on student loans, comparing the current high rate paid by students to the much lower rate one receives when purchasing a car or home. He urged the presidents to work with him to develop a creative solution to lowering the rates currently offered.


Finally, Senator Rosenberg challenged colleges and universities to share the expertise of their faculty, staff and students, and, where appropriate, to partner with the Legislature to help solve some of the bigger problems facing the Commonwealth. As examples, Senator Rosenberg suggested that colleges and universities might be able to provide guidance and expertise to help find more efficient ways for the state to develop and implement large scale IT projects; to complete public construction projects (both vertical – i.e. bricks and mortar – and horizontal – i.e. roads and bridges), and; to rethink how the state can prevent incarceration and reduce recidivism rates.


Following the presentation of the challenges, our presidents had a number of suggestions of ways our colleges could contribute to solutions in the next legislative session. AICUM will be convening task forces consisting of experts from our colleges and universities to help address these and other challenges.

Posted in Legislation, Post
Mass. Private Colleges Earn an “A” in Student Loan Repayment Rates

September 25, 2014




By Richard Doherty, AICUM President



The United States Department of Education just yesterday released its annual student loan default rates for all colleges and universities.  The department measures the percentage of borrowers who defaulted on federal student loans within three years after entering repayment, in this case looking at borrowers who entered into repayment in FY 2011.


According to yesterday’s release, the national three year default rate decreased to 13.7 percent (from 14.7 percent), reversing a two year trend of default rate increases.  This number reflects default rates of all institutions nationwide, including 2 and 4 year public and privates, community colleges and for-profit institutions.  While this overall number remains troubling, it is important to look beyond the industry-wide data and examine individual state and sector trends.


Here in Massachusetts, the numbers across the board are significantly better and speak to both our high-quality institutions – both public and private – and the strong job market for graduates of a Massachusetts college. The three year default rate in Massachusetts for the 169 participating schools was 8.1 percent in FY2011, down from 8.5 percent in FY2010.  Overall, Massachusetts has the third lowest default rate in the country, trailing only North Dakota (6.1 percent) and Nebraska (7.7 percent).


The news for AICUM institutions is even better. If you dive deeper into the data, the 3-year default rate for AICUM institutions only in FY2011 has dropped to 4.9 percent!  Put another way, more than 95 percent of Massachusetts private college grads are keeping up with their loan obligations.  In most classrooms, a 95 would get you an A!


The low default rate at AICUM institutions speaks to the high-quality education that is producing well-educated workers qualified for well-paying jobs, which in turn allows borrowers to manage their loan payments responsibly. The decrease can further be attributed to a number of steps that our colleges are taking to ensure that college remains affordable, students borrow only what they need and that they understand the repayment options available to them that help to keep their loan payments more affordable.


Student default remains a national concern for higher education.  The community as a whole must continue to take steps to reduce the overall rate.  However, Massachusetts’ lower rates shows that a commitment to transparency, counseling and working with student borrowers can yield a lower default rate and alumni well-prepared to responsibly manage their student loan debt upon graduation.

Posted in Post
2014 AICUM Fall Symposium

September 24, 2014




By Kaitlyn Rodriguez, Director of Member Relations



One of the benefits of our robust higher education sector in Massachusetts is the collaborative instinct to share best practices between colleges throughout the Commonwealth.  Often institutions have successfully dealt with situations or challenges on campus and are able to share new ideas or innovative approaches with colleagues from peer institutions dealing with similar challenges.  To promote this practice further, AICUM hosts an annual symposium that provides our members with an opportunity to learn from one another and from our presenting affiliate members with specific industry expertise.


On October 2nd, from 8:30 – 2:30, AICUM will once again convey our members and affiliates for our Fall symposium at the College of the Holy Cross to discuss Emerging Challenges to Independent Higher Education.  During the five breakout sessions, some 150 attendees will have the opportunity to learn from industry experts about the latest trends on campus and discuss what has worked in tackling these challenges.  Among the many topics to be presented, attendees will engage in discussions on student debt, state authorization reciprocity agreements, trends in student lifestyle and habits, sexual assault on campus, medicinal marijuana, campus design using the latest technology, the unionization of student athletes, campus health and wellness initiatives, and reputation management in the social media age.


In addition to these informative presentations, attendees will be offered networking opportunities throughout the symposium to develop new relationships with colleagues from peer institutions and reconnect with former colleagues.


If you work at an AICUM institution, there is still time to join us at the symposium.  Please send me an email indicating your interest to by Tuesday, September 30th.  Click here for the Symposium Agenda and Registration Form.


Posted in Post
2013-2014 Legislative Session in Review

September 12, 2014




By Rob McCarron, Vice President of Government Relations & General Counsel



On July 31st, the Legislature wrapped up formal sessions for the 2013-2014 Legislative session.  As is typical at the close of a legislative session, the Legislature was very active through the end of July, advancing a number of high profile bills to Governor Patrick’s desk, including bills increasing the minimum wage and implementing changes in unemployment insurance; revising welfare rules; toughening domestic violence laws; overhauling the state’s guns laws; and, implementing a range of economic development and job growth strategies.


In staying true to a key part of AICUM’s legislative mission, we primarily focused on legislation that enhances opportunities for Massachusetts students to attend a college or university here in the Commonwealth.  Each year, AICUM commits to advocating for additional funding for need-based financial aid programs, including the MassGrant and Gilbert Matching Grant programs.  We were pleased that the Legislature invested an additional $3 million in these important programs – bringing the total funding in FY15 to $96.7 million.  Each dollar invested in need-based financial aid will positively impact thousands of students studying in Massachusetts each year, helping them remain in college and earn their degree on time and with less debt.


Last Fall, the Joint Committee on Higher Education created a Subcommittee on Student Loans and Debt, and tasked it with developing recommendations to ensure that higher education remains accessible and affordable for Massachusetts families.  AICUM and several of our college presidents and administrators testified before the Subcommittee.  We also worked with the Subcommittee and staff as they developed findings and recommendations.  The final report included a number of key proposals, including:


  • To expand student grant aid by increasing funding for the MassGrant Scholarship fund;
  • To give families an incentive to save for college by creating a tax deduction for contributions made to the Commonwealth’s 529 College Savings Plan; and
  • To develop more comprehensive loan forgiveness programs for “in-demand” jobs

Throughout the session, AICUM worked on a number of bills that would have adversely impacted our members, including attempts to challenge the tax-exempt status of certain non-profits, undermine zoning protections afforded colleges and other non-profits under the Dover amendment, and impose new regulations that would prove costly and overly burdensome to both public and private colleges and universities.  AICUM offered testimony and advocated against such proposals with legislative officials.  We were pleased that these proposals did not advance this session.


With this week’s primary behind us, and the November elections just eight weeks away, we are already preparing for the 2015-16 legislative session.  We expect to again face many of the same issues and we look forward to supporting many of the recommendations put forth by the Subcommittee on Student Loans and Debt.

Posted in Post
AICUM Submits Comments on HEA Reauthorization

September 10, 2014



By Richard Doherty, AICUM President



On June 25th, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the 750 word draft legislation reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, which was first passed in 1965. The Act has previously been reauthorized nine times, the most recent of which was in 2008, expiring on December 31, 2013.


The reauthorization of the Higher Education Act is of critical importance, as the act governs all federal activity related to higher education, including federal student aid, loans and accreditation. By releasing a draft document, Chairman Harkin continued a process that began in January 2013 with the swearing in of the 113th Congress. Throughout the session, Chairman Harkin and Senator Lamar Alexander, ranking minority member of the HELP Committee, held numerous hearings with higher education experts to gain further understanding of what was working in the higher education community and what areas could be improved during reauthorization.


Throughout this process, AICUM has been in constant communication with our senior Senator, Elizabeth Warren, who is an important member of the HELP Committee and key advocate for helping students manage their student loans. Senator Warren and her staff have been instrumental is relaying the ideas and concerns of our institutions back to the full committee. In fact, just last month, Senator Warren’s top higher education staffer, Julie Morgan, traveled to Boston to meet with our members to discuss Chairman Harkin’s draft and the next steps in the reauthorization process. We had a fruitful discussion with Julie and continue to be encouraged that the final language for reauthorization will strengthen higher education while ensuring greater access and affordability.


In response to a request from the HELP Committee, AICUM submitted written comments on Chairman Harkin’s “discussion draft” proposal. We used this opportunity to highlight sections of the draft that we felt would improve higher education – such as Year Round Pell – and also highlighted areas of concern – such as the State-Federal College Affordability Partnership. I hope you will take the opportunity to read our full comments about this important legislative process.

Posted in Post