Oregon Governor Signs Free Community College Bill

Oregon's governor, Kate Brown, a Democrat, on Friday signed a bill to create a free community college grant, several news outlets reported. Oregon follows Tennessee as the second state to fund a statewide free community college program. The legislation includes $10 million for qualifying students, who will each receive at least a $1,000 grant. The state also will spend $7 million on related student success and completion programs.

The news earned a celebratory tweet from President Obama:

Phi Theta Kappa honor society director retires

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Longtime executive director of Phi Theta Kappa retires from his position at two-year-college group following charges and a seemingly aborted investigation into inappropriate behavior.

Free community college plan is expanded to include black colleges and minority-serving institutions

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After criticism from some black college leaders, the legislation for Obama's free community college proposal includes a new grant program aimed at HBCUs and minority-serving institutions.

More Than a Third of College Students Transfer

New data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center show that 37.2 percent of college students transfer at least once within six years. The research is based on the center's virtually comprehensive database of American college students. It tracked first-time students who enrolled in college in 2008.

Students often cross state lines (which means they don't necessarily show up in state databases of students or graduates). The clearinghouse said nearly a quarter of transfers from four-year institutions left the state. And community college was the top destination for transfer students from four-year institutions, with 53.7 moving to a two-year community college.

U of California's New Transfer 'Road Map'

The University of California System this week announced a "new academic road map" for community college students in the state who seek to transfer to UC campuses. The transfer pathways include a single set of courses that UC said will prepare transfer students for 10 of the most popular majors at the university's nine campuses. The university said it plans to create pathways for another 11 majors later this year.

Roughly 30 percent of UC's undergraduates are transfer students, with 90 percent of those students coming from a California community college. The university said the transfer pathways will help UC meet its goal of enrolling at least one new transfer student for every two new freshmen. UC and Jerry Brown, California's governor, established the 2:1 ratio as part of a budget deal they struck earlier this year.

Free College Proposals in Oregon and D.C.

A committee of Oregon's Legislature on Monday advanced a bill that would fund a tuition waiver for community college students, the Statesman Journal of Salem reported. The bill, which the State Senate is now considering, would provide a grant to qualifying students that would fill in the tuition gap that is not covered by other state and federal aid, as well as a $50 tuition term fee students would pay. The state also would cap the annual amount it would spend on the benefit at $10 million, which lawmakers conceded likely would not cover tuition for all students who would qualify (maintaining a 2.5 GPA is a requirement).

Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., also are considering a tuition-free community college proposal. Last month the City Council held a hearing on a bill that would create a scholarship to cover tuition and fees for qualifying students who attend the District of Columbia Community College, reported the Community College Daily, a news service of the American Association of Community Colleges.

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Convicted Rapist Will Play Football for Technical College

Trenton Mays, one of the Steubenville High School football players convicted in 2013 of raping a girl, will be playing football again. Hocking College, an Ohio technical college, has enrolled him, The Athens Messenger reported. College policy bars Mays from living in the dormitories, which are off-limits to convicted sex offenders, but not from playing football. A statement from Betty Young, the president of the college, said: “Everyone deserves a second chance. Second chances do not excuse or defend previous behavior. There are a lot of ‘second chance’ stories at every community college, Trenton’s story is just one more.”

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Workforce dollars in Indiana are tied to graduation rates that cause trouble for Ivy Tech

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Indiana's Ivy Tech Community College is working to hold onto federal workforce development dollars as the state now uses graduation rates as an accountability measure, which the college feels is unfair.

Nevada Higher Ed Officials Quashed Critical Report

The Nevada System of Higher Education last year, facing scrutiny over the state's community colleges, hired the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems to review the situation and write a report. But The Las Vegas Review-Journal, based on open-records requests, reported that the system didn't like the way the report raised criticisms, and so largely quashed the study. An email the newspaper obtained showed Constance Brooks, the system’s vice chancellor for government and community affairs, saying that the report cast the Board of Regents and the system in a "very negative light," adding, "I say we just take what we like out of the report and do away with the rest." The article suggests that's what the system did.

More Questions on Graduation Rates at Ivy Tech

Ivy Tech Community College, a statewide community college system in Indiana, has been facing questions from legislators about what they perceive to be low graduation rates. Now Ivy Tech is facing the possibility that the State Workforce Innovation Council could cut off federal funds that the college receives through the Workforce Investment Act, The Journal Gazette reported. The state council has minimum completion rates, both for short-term and long-term programs, and Ivy Tech has some programs that are not meeting those minimums. At the same time, council officials said that they are reluctant to cut off Ivy Tech because it provides so much of the state's training.

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