The Federal Work-Study Program needs to be revamped to help serve more low-income students, says a report released Monday by Young Invincibles, a student advocacy group.
The group calls on Congress to replace the existing formula for distributing federal work-study money to campuses with a methodology that rewards institutions that enroll and graduate large numbers of low-income students. Under the current program, the group said, the most expensive private institutions that have been in the program the longest receive the most funding at the expense of many public institutions that serve larger populations of low-income students.
The report also said that the work-study program should require that colleges place students in jobs that are better aligned with their career interests and academic programs.
Liberal comedian Bill Maher announced on his show last week that he would work to unseat Representative John Kline, the Minnesota Republican who chairs the House education committee.
The host of the HBO series "Real Time with Bill Maher" cited Kline's support of for-profit colleges -- and the industry's donations to his campaign -- as one of the reasons why he chose to target Kline as part of his "Flip a District" campaign. Maher said he would travel to Kline's Minnesota district and perform a stand-up comedy show in an attempt to swing the seat from Republican to Democratic.
Kline, after heading off a tough primary challenge earlier this year, is facing Democratic candidate Mike Obermueller, a former state lawmaker whom he defeated in 2012.
One of the main lobbying organizations that represnts loan servicers and other student loan entities has named its new president.
The Education Finance Council on Monday said that Debra J. Chromy would lead the group. Chromy was most recently a vice president at American Student Assistance. She replaces Vince Sampson, who left the council earlier this year to join a law firm.
The group represents nonprofit and state entities that provide student loans, as well as loan servicers, which have increasinglyfaced scrutiny in Washington over how well they help struggling borrowers avoid default.
Police at the College of Marin, in California, are investigating 23 people who are suspected of pretending to be students to obtain federal student aid, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Their plot reportedly involved plans to obtain $200,000, and some of the funds have already been paid out.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat who has been a leading critic of how the U.S. Department of Education oversees the companies it hires to service federal student loans, indicated Wednesday that she is not satisfied with the department’s effort to overhaul its agreements with those companies. Under pressure from Senate Democrats like Warren, as well as many groups representing students, labor unions, and consumers, the Education Department announced last month that it had renegotiated new contracts with the four main entities it hires to manage payments for federal student loan borrowers.
The new contracts change the payment structure for loan servicers, increasing the rate at which they are paid for accounts in good standing and reducing the amount of money they are paid for delinquent accounts. The servicers will also receive new bonuses if they keep their borrowers’ delinquency rates at certain levels.
At a Senate hearing Wednesday, Warren grilled an Education Department official over the new contracts, asking why the loan servicing companies would be paid more to manage the payments of borrowers in good standing. She cited analysis by Compass Point that showed that Navient, the loan-servicing business that was previously part of Sallie Mae, stood to receive an additional $20 million under the payment structure without making any changes to the health of their portfolio.
Navient has drawn particular scrutiny from Warren and other student and consumer groups. Federal prosecutors earlier this year accused the company of overcharging military service members. It entered into a multimillion-dollar settlement with the Department of Justice, in which it did not admit any wrongdoing.
William Leith, the chief business operations officer for the department’s Federal Student Aid office, said that while the department estimated that the servicers, in aggregate, would receive more money to service loans, the contracts were designed to help borrowers. He said that the Education Department was on track to complete a 120-day review of whether any of its loan servicers, including Navient, had illegally overcharged service member borrowers. That review will be completed in the next several weeks, he said.
The U.S. Department of Defense has not done enough to guide the work of the contractor it used to evaluate the quality of colleges where service members enrolled using federal military education funds, the Government Accountability Office said in a report Monday. The Pentagon agreed with the agency's assessment and said it had decided not to renew its agreement with the contractor while it develops a better way of evaluating participating colleges.
Student loan issues may not seem the ideal topic for comedy, but John Oliver thinks otherwise. Here's a segment on his new show "Last Week Tonight" (and below that you'll see that he highlighted the coverage of a certain higher education publication close to our hearts):
For the second time this year, the U.S. Department of Education will reprocess tens of thousands of federal student aid applications because of a decimal place error, officials announced Thursday.The department said that next week it will reprocess "less than 160,000" applications where officials suspect a student may have incorrectly inserted a decimal place into the online application's income box, artificially boosting his or her wealth in the eyes of the federal formula that determines aid.
The misreported adjusted gross income, in some cases, may have led students to be denied for a Pell Grant or have their award reduced from what it should have been had they correctly filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA. Some of those errors were caught in July when the department reprocessed 182,155 applications to correct a similar error in the "earned income from work" box, officials said. Most of those applications, however, involved students appearing qualified for more aid than they should have been.
In the current batch of reprocessing, department officials said they are targeting applications where a student's adjusted gross income is greater than $100,000 or a parent's adjusted gross income is listed above $500,000. "While meeting these criteria does not mean that an error occurred -- we actually do have students who earn more than $100,000 and parents who earn more than $500,000 -- we believe that it would be prudent for institutions to review these transactions to ensure that the financial information is accurate," the department's announcement said.
The department on July 1 reprogrammed its online FAFSA form to automatically drop any fractional dollar amounts that are erroneously entered into the system, which accepts only whole numbers, in order to prevent the problem from recurring.