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News Briefs

Public Colleges Hike Fees

THE WASHINGTON POST -- WASHINGTON

Squeezed by smaller government appropriations and dwindling endowments, four-year public colleges and universities raised their tuitions and fees by 9.6 percent for the current school year, the College Board said Monday.

The tuition increases were accompanied by a 6.0 percent hike in room-and-board charges, raising the average cost of attending a four-year public university for students who live on campus to $9,663 -- $672 more than last fall.

The tuition increases at public schools outpaced those at the nation’s 1,730 private four-year colleges and universities, where tuition went up 7.5 percent to an average of $18,273 this fall -- a significant increase over last fall’s 5.5 percent increase. Meanwhile, room-and-board charges at private colleges increased 4.7 percent to an average of $6,479.

Higher education officials said the price increases at four-year public colleges -- the largest percentage increase in a decade -- were a consequence of a slowing economy that has crimped tax revenues, prompting state officials to raise tuition.

“The College Board’s new report on tuition and student aid confirms what we know too well: that the poor performance of the economy has had a substantial and negative impact on tax revenue and endowments, and consequently college tuitions,” said David Ward, president of the American Council on Education, which represents 1,800 colleges and universities.

Miami Elections to Be Monitored

THE WASHINGTON POST -- WASHINGTON

The Washington-based Center for Democracy, a nonpartisan group that usually monitors overseas elections, has been hired by Florida officials to observe balloting this November in troubled Miami-Dade County.

It will be a first for the group, which has monitored nine elections overseas -- usually in developing countries -- but never in the United States. Allen Weinstein, president of the group, said he was a bit surprised to get the request, but that he could not refuse the Sunshine State, where elections have become, in recent years, notoriously messy affairs.

The group will send 15 to 20 people to the region, where, Weinstein says, they will monitor preparations for the contest, facilitate communication between local voters and election officials and, after the balloting, write up their estimation of how well the whole thing went. In all, it will cost the county $92,000.

It wasn’t a decision Miami officials took lightly. The county commission narrowly approved the decision, 6 to 5, with some members complaining to local reporters that the group’s involvement would only worsen the state’s reputation for mangled elections.