Campus Environment Nellis takes steps against PROSPER Act By William Meyer Posted on March 8, 2018 6 min read 0 0 299 Ohio U President Duane Nellis attends his first Student Senate meeting as university president in Fall 2017. File photo by Connor Perrett. Nellis has sent letters to Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, as well as to all of Ohio’s congressional delegation to express his concern about the Act. President Duane Nellis voiced his concern for the PROSPER Act’s effect on Ohio University students Monday at Faculty Senate and told senators what steps he is taking in opposition to the act. The bill made its debut in U.S. Congress in Dec. 2017, and it proposes to eliminate Stafford and PLUS loans for first-time borrows. The new Federal ONE loan is meant to replace them. Additionally, the bill sets new borrowing limits for students. Nellis said the average federal loan debt per student in 2017 for Ohio U graduates was $20,992. He added that students who took out both federal and private loans had an average debt of $27,900. The national average for student loan debt in 2017 was $37,132. “There are many provisions of the ‘Prosper’ Act that are of concern,” Nellis said. “One is repeal of the federal supplemental education opportunities grants, which would hurt our neediest students.” The program, which Nellis said is proven to boost completion rates for students, allows students to access the funds they need instead of dropping out. These grants are for students who have a zero expected family contribution in accordance with their FAFSA application. “Without these funds available, we’re concerned about where they will look, where they will turn, to have access to the funds they need to complete their degree,” Nellis said. Another concern Nellis has with the PROSPER Act is the limitation set on the Federal One loan program. He said the limits will create problems for students who have a greater need for funds, and added that students on average are asking for money than what the new threshold would provide. Nellis said the Athens campus has 8,522 undergraduates who received subsidized loan disbursements totaling $34 million. “The impact of capping the Federal Parent PLUS loans on Ohio U students would be substantial,” he said. “It would reduce, again, the availability of these funds to the most needy students.” Nellis has sent letters to Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, as well as to all of Ohio’s congressional delegation to express his concern about the Act. After Nellis expressed his concern to Faculty Senate, the senators read a resolutions to establish a University Professional Ethics Committee and to define a review process for sexual misconduct investigations. The first resolution, if passed in its current state, would establish a committee of 14 to review allegations of sexual assault by faculty members in its current state. Members will serve three year terms, and their service will be restricted to two successive terms. A chairman would be selected by the chair of Faculty Senate with consultation from the dean of the college or regional campus they represent. The second resolution would revise the Faculty Handbook to include a process for review of accusations of sexual misconduct by faculty. It outlines that a University Equity and Civil Rights Compliance investigator would determine whether or not sexual misconduct allegations against a faculty member are substantiated. If allegations are substantiated, an investigation would be conducted to determine the guilt of the faculty member. If found guilty, the University Professional Ethics Committee will provide the provost a recommendation of disciplinary action.