The Hope tax credit is designed to help middle class families pay for college -- but not this much. A Treasury Department audit released Thursday found that several hundred thousand taxpayers sought credit in 2006 and 2007 for more than half a billion dollars more than they were supposed to by claiming the tax credit for a third or even a fourth year; it is limited by statute to two years. The agency's inspector general for tax administration found that the IRS system is not set up to flag taxpayers who seek the credit for more than two years, and that agency officials lack the ability to disallow claims for Hope credits because of "math errors." The audit recommends that the IRS be given that authority. The Hope credit was significantly expanded for 2009 and 2010 as part of the federal economic stimulus package.
Higher Education Quick Takes
About 2,000 students at Israeli universities were admitted under affirmative action programs designed to diversify the student bodies, according to research released this week, Haaretz reported. The study found that these students -- once admitted -- performed nearly as well at their universities as did those admitted through traditional means.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops held a closed-door meeting Wednesday to discuss, among other things, relationships between the bishops and Roman Catholic colleges and universities, the Associated Press reported. Plans for the discussion started in the wake of the controversy over the invitation to President Obama to be the commencement speaker at the University of Notre Dame.
Colleges and universities reported a 27 percent drop in the number of new cases of likely H1N1 flu, but the closely watched weekly survey by the American College Health Association included the first two deaths attributed to the outbreak. The ACHA survey of 263 campuses found 6,373 new cases of suspected swine flu, with 95 percent of campuses reporting new cases, down from 98 percent the week before. The institutions cumulatively reported 21.3 cases per 10,000 students, down 27 percent from the November 7. Five states -- New Jersey, Louisiana, Missouri, Idaho and the District of Columbia -- reported increasing numbers of cases, with the rest noting declines.
Jessica Goode, 23, a student at Ferrum College, was shot and killed Tuesday, and another student was shot in the hand, when a hunter mistook the students for deer, The Roanoke Times reported. The students were collecting specimens for a biology class. The hunter has been charged with manslaughter, reckless handling of a firearm and trespassing.
The board of Metropolitan State College of Denver has voted to fire Angelina De La Torre, a tenured professor of criminal justice and Chicana/o studies based on incorrect information submitted on her post-tenure review paperwork, INDenver Times reported. De La Torre submitted a report listing a paper as having been published in a journal in 2005, but an investigation found that the paper hadn't been published, and the college cited that in dismissing her. De La Torre, however, said that she never intended to misrepresent anything, and that she made a harmless mistake in not finding out if the article had appeared or in properly recording the issue in which she thought it had appeared. She said she plans to sue the college.
Using community colleges in Texas as models, a new report suggests that there are common features present at colleges that have success at promoting transfer to four-year institutions by low-income and first generation college students. The report, by the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, found that the common themes are a "structured" pathway to transfer, featuring clear articulation agreements; a "student centered culture," with a range of academic support services; and leadership that is sensitive to the challenges facing disadvantaged students.
China and the United States on Wednesday announced a series of steps to improve relations between the two countries. One part of the joint announcement was the statement that the United States would seek to send 100,000 students to China over the coming four years. While the statement suggested that this would be an increase over 20,000 Americans who currently study there, the increase could really be larger. Data released this week by the Institute for International Education placed the number of Americans currently studying in China at 13,165.
A federal agency report expected to be issued today finds that most universities do not report their researchers' financial conflicts of interest to the government as required, The New York Times reported. The report by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services examines how National Institutes of Health grantees complied (or not) with federal rules governing researchers' financial conflicts, and concludes that most institutions do not report conflicts and that when they do, few require researchers to eliminate or manage the conflicts.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is joining Syracuse University and the University of Wisconsin at Madison in announcing that it will not make the Kindle available to students until the device has improvements to be better enable blind people to use it. "Quite apart from our legal obligations, we at Illinois believe that our technology choices should be shaped by our institutional values and aspirations. We will not embrace technologies that undercut our commitment to accessibility. We will instead apply our ingenuity to technologies that enable everyone to participate more fully in society," said a statement from the university. "Like our colleagues at Wisconsin and Syracuse, we recognize the groundbreaking potential that read-aloud features have for making textbooks accessible to students with disabilities. Sadly, that potential can’t be realized until vendors of e-book readers, like the Kindle, add accessible read-aloud menus and basic navigation to their products."