The federal government will spend roughly $22 billion on the Pell Grant program in 2016, according to new numbers from the U.S. Congressional Budget Office. The more than $7 billion projected surplus in the $30 billion program follows several years of declines in spending on Pell Grants, due to previous changes in eligibility for students.
As a result of the surplus, The Washington Post reported, more support may follow for restoring year-round access to Pell, meaning students can once again use the grants for summer courses. The elimination of that eligibility is one of the budget-related changes to the program during the Obama administration, which the White House recently has sought to reverse.
"Some have argued that Pell costs are unsustainable, but the CBO estimates show that the program has enough funding to restore year-round Pell, a policy with bipartisan support that incents completion and reduces college costs for low-income students," José Luis Santos, vice president for higher education policy and practice at the Education Trust, said in a statement. “Congress has the opportunity to preserve and strengthen this vital resource. We look forward to working with lawmakers to make this a reality.”
Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego did not mislead a graduate who said the institution made false promises about her career prospects, a jury found Thursday. Former student Anna Alaburda claimed that the college used inflated job placement data -- mainly by including part-time and nonlegal work obtained by graduates -- to lure her to the school, according to the Associated Press. She claimed that she was owed $125,000 in damages to make up for the fact that she’s been unable to find a full-time job as a lawyer, despite having graduated near the top of her class in 2008. Alaburda also pointed to the fact that she has $170,000 in student debt, but the Superior Court jury rejected her arguments, 9 to 3.
Law school graduates from various campuses have made similar claims to Alaburda’s in recent years, and some have received settlements as a result, but her case is believed to be the first to go to trial, according to the Associated Press. Michael Sullivan, a lawyer for Thomas Jefferson, reportedly acknowledged "isolated mistakes" and "clerical errors" in the data, but said there was no evidence that the school lied. The American Bar Association has since required more transparency in reporting jobs data.
The University of South Florida has placed Samuel Bradley on leave as director of its communications school after learning that he was demoted from a previous job over three affairs with students, The Tampa Bay Tribune reported. The university said it was not aware of the findings against Bradley at his former institution, Texas Tech University, and only learned of the situation this week. Texas Tech's investigation found that one student with whom Bradley had an affair was hospitalized for emotional distress, another delayed graduation, and that Bradley’s wife damaged the windshield of a car driven by one of his students. Bradley did not respond to requests for comment.
More than 100 students gathered on Howard University's campus Tuesday to protest the university's handling of cases of sexual assault. The demonstrations began after a student posted on Twitter that the university mishandled her sexual assault complaint earlier this year. Other students began criticizing the university and sharing similar stories, using the hashtag #TakeBackTheNightHU.
"Recent tweets have been posted regarding the alleged sexual assault of a Howard University student by another Howard student," the university said in a statement Tuesday. "The university administration took immediate action as soon as we learned of this matter. While we are not able to discuss the specifics of any ongoing investigation, we are and have been actively investigating all reports that have been made to us. These cases cannot be adjudicated through social media without compromising the integrity of the investigation."
The demonstrators on Tuesday gathered near the residence hall where the alleged assault occurred and chanted, "No means no." They also released a list of demands that called for "a thorough investigation of conduct of all reported assaults" on Howard's campus and for background checks of "all Howard University residence life employees."
On Wednesday, the university announced it would begin conducting background checks on all student employees, effective immediately.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III Committee on Infractions placed Kalamazoo College on three years' probation Tuesday for violating rules that prohibit Division III colleges from awarding financial aid based on athletic ability. Division III colleges are allowed to weigh athletic considerations in deciding whom to admit, but the rules adopted by the division's members bar them from taking such factors into account when packaging financial aid.
In a joint process through the NCAA's summary disposition process, the Division III infractions panel found that Kalamazoo had for at least five years used ratings that considered athletics participation in determining aid for prospective students, which meant that 567 students received aid packages based on their athletic skill or participation. In addition, the head baseball coach told dozens of players in email messages that "the college’s admissions office would increase merit-based financial aid upon his written recommendation," which the NCAA panel determined could be interpreted as a written offer of aid.
The NCAA panel imposed a ban on postseason play for any team that still has players who received aid based on sports participation.
A new report from New America, a think tank, looks at research on the assessment of college learning. The paper by Fredrik DeBoer, a lecturer at Purdue University, tracks the overall push for more assessment and data collection in higher education. It also describes the resulting backlash.
"Effective assessment of student learning in any context represents a significant challenge," the paper said, "and controversies persist at all levels of education about which methods of data collection and analysis are most effective and appropriate."
DeBoer argues that faculty members and local college administrators must be welcomed into the assessment process. He also writes that standardized assessments from testing firms should be subject to external validation.
"Researchers must vet these instruments to determine how well they work, and what the potential unforeseen consequences are of these types of assessments, for the good of all involved," writes DeBoer.