studentaid

Labor Group Slams GOP Over Ties to For-Profit Colleges

In advance of the first Republican presidential debate this week, the American Federation of Teachers is trying to call attention to candidates’ ties to the for-profit education industry.

A website registered to the labor union says that “Republicans have embraced for-profits while tearing down public institutions to benefit their blue-chip friends.”

It outlines various connections between some of the GOP presidential hopefuls and for-profit colleges, taking aim at the support that former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida and Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and Scott Walker of Wisconsin have provided to for-profit colleges.

Some of the connections were less direct. The site, for instance, calls Ted Cruz "a Republican for profit," citing his decision to launch his campaign at Liberty University, "which embraces the for-profit model." Liberty University is a nonprofit Christian college with one the country's largest online programs.

AFT has endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for president. Her financial disclosure last week revealed that her husband, former President Bill Clinton, was paid at least $16.5 million by the for-profit college chain Laureate Education for serving as honorary chancellor. 

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White House Summit on Short-Term Training Programs

The White House is hosting a meeting today on the growing boot camp and coding academy space, which offers short-term training programs to students. Other alternative providers, such as online course platforms, also are on the agenda, said several invitees.

The meeting is expected to include a discussion of how these entities might partner with traditional colleges. The U.S. Department of Education is considering an experimental sites project to allow federal aid to flow to a limited group of boot camps and MOOC providers that partner with accredited colleges. The experiment would also include a new quality control process, perhaps managed by an existing or new accreditor.

Pairings between colleges and boot camps have already begun. For example, Galvanize, a technology-focused academy with six campuses, announced a partnership with the University of New Haven last October to offer an accredited master's degree in big data.

Coding academies and boot camps will graduate an estimated 16,000 students this year.

Student advocacy groups protest ITT Tech as shareholders hold annual meeting

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Student advocates use the backdrop of ITT Tech's annual shareholders meeting to protest for-profit colleges' approach to loan debt.

In renewed Obama push for higher-ed accountability, echoes of entrenched politics

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As the Obama administration reframes its pitch for accountability in higher education, the politics of getting it done remain unchanged.

Pell for Prisoners Announcement Coming

The U.S. Department of Education is moving closer to an official announcement of an experiment to allow some prisoners to receive Pell Grants. On Monday Arne Duncan, the education secretary, came close to dropping the details for an experimental sites project, which would grant a limited waiver to the federal rules that prevent prisoners in state and federal prisons from receiving Pell Grants. As Inside Higher Ed reported in May, prison education programs at a handful of colleges might be eligible to participate in the experiment.

Duncan said the feds are working on an experimental sites program that would open up Pell eligibility to "incarcerated adults seeking an independent, productive life after they get out of jail," according to a transcript of the major policy speech Duncan gave at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. When asked during a phone call with reporters for more details, Duncan said, "Stay tuned." He is scheduled to appear at a Maryland prison on Friday with Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney general. The event will include a visit to Goucher College's prison education program, and a "major announcement" is planned.

The U.S. Congress banned the use of Pell Grants by prisoners in 1994. Congressional Democrats have called for the ban to be dropped. If the experimental access is successful, it could bolster the case for a full restoration. But opposition appears likely among Republicans.

Trump Slams Government Profits on Student Loans

Donald Trump, a Republican candidate for president, on Thursday criticized the federal government for earning a profit on the federal student loan program.

“That’s probably one of the only things the government shouldn’t make money off -- I think it’s terrible that one of the only profit centers we have is student loans,” Trump said in an interview with The Hill. He said that college students are “swimming in these loans.”

“I’ll see so many young people and they work really hard for four years,” Trump told the newspaper. “They borrowed money. Their parents don’t have much. They work all together and they mortgage their future.”

Trump’s position aligns with that of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, who frequently criticizes the profits the government makes on federal student loans. The Government Accountability Office estimated that the federal student loans given out between 2007 and 2012 are on track to produce $66 billion in profit for the government.

Many Republicans have also called for changes to accounting rules that would result in the federal student loan program being booked as a cost to taxpayers.

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CFPB orders loan servicer to pay $18.5M over illegal charges, signals broader crackdown

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Discover Bank agrees to pay $18.5 million in consumer refunds and penalties to resolve charges of illegal loan servicing, as U.S. consumer protection bureau eyes a broader crackdown on an industry it says is rife with problems.

Academic Minute: The Price of College

In today's Academic Minute, Robert Kelchen, a professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, discusses research on ways to improve the efficiency of getting into colleges. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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Feds mull experiment on aid and accreditation for alternative providers

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Education Department moves closer to experimenting with federal aid and accreditation for alternative providers like boot camps and MOOCs, while White House books meeting on expanding space.

College Readiness Stagnates for Low-Income Students

The number of low-income students who meet key college-readiness benchmarks remained flat among 2014 high school graduates who took the ACT, according to a new report from ACT and the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships. That number has stagnated for the past five years, the report said.

About one-quarter of 2014 high school graduates who took the ACT reported an annual family income of less than $36,000. While 96 percent of this group said they planned to attend college, more than the overall group of test takers, roughly half of the low-income students did not meet any of ACT's four key readiness indicators. The report found that 31 percent of all students who took the ACT also do not meet those readiness benchmarks. For example, only 25 percent of low-income students (who took the recommended core course work) were deemed ready in math, compared to 43 percent of all students.

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