A New Call for 'College for All'

The Center for American Progress is today releasing a new paper on how to provide, as the paper's title says, "College for All." The paper says that a variety of changes in policies should enable all high school graduates to receive support up to the level of tuition at a public college or university in the state. Students who attend private colleges would receive the equivalent amount toward their expenses. Students at community colleges would receive support sufficient to cover the full costs of attendance.

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New America paper recommends changes to federal financial aid to benefit community college students

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New America Foundation argues that regulations governing federal financial aid are keeping community college students from earning degrees faster.

Socrates, Plato and Education Spending

U.S. Representative Dave Brat, a Virginia Republican, is in his first term in Congress and is best known for having defeated Eric Cantor, who at the time was the House majority leader, in the Republican primary in their district last year. Brat, an economist, taught at Randolph-Macon College before entering Congress, and he cited that experience last week during committee debate on programs to support elementary schools. Brat's theme was that education funding isn't needed.

“The greatest thinkers in Western civ were not products of education policy,” he said. “Socrates trained Plato on a rock and then Plato trained in Aristotle roughly speaking on a rock. So, huge funding is not necessary to achieve the greatest minds and the greatest intellects in history.” (In the video below, Brat's comments start at around 45:45.)

On Friday, the National Bureau of Economic Research released a study (abstract available here) on the impact of increases in state spending on public schools. The study found that significant increases can be linked not only to an increase in the number of years of education that students receive, but to higher adult wages and lower adult poverty.




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California Suspends Student Aid to Heald College Chain

The California Student Aid Commission has suspended state student aid for those enrolled at the 10 California campuses of the for-profit Heald College chain, The Sacramento Bee reported. The commission said that Heald had failed to submit documents required to show that it is financially stable. The move by the commission halted about $1 million in payments to Heald, a figure that could reach $14 million by June. Heald officials criticized the move and said that they had hired a new accountant. Heald officials also said the move could endanger the sale of Heald, which is part of the Corinthian Colleges group, which has faced severe financial and regulatory difficulties and has been selling off some parts of its operations. Heald has been considered one of the more attractive assets that Corinthian might sell off.

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Senate-sponsored report calls for simplified, and fewer, regulations on colleges

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A Senate-sponsored task force releases blueprint for Congress to scale back federal requirements that higher education leaders have long said are overly burdensome. 

Gov. Haslam's Budget Would Extend Tennessee Promise

Tennessee's governor, Bill Haslam, this week unveiled several higher education proposals as part of his budget plan. He included $1.5 million for a pilot program to offer a version of the state's free community college scholarship to adult students. Qualifying adults will be more than halfway to an associate degree in previously earned credits, said Mike Krause, the executive director of the Tennessee Promise program. Like traditional-aged students, they would get two years of free tuition at community colleges. Haslam, a Republican, called for another $1.5 million for adult students to receive similar scholarships to attend one of Tennessee's 27 colleges of technology.

Krause said the governor's budget plan would include $2.5 million to expand a successful remedial education program, which brings community college faculty members into public high schools. The program, which is dubbed Seamless Alignment and Integrated Learning Support (SAILS), would reach 18,000 students this year. Krause said the state had seen a 4 percent decline in students with remedial needs in recent years.

Obama Explains Reversal on Plan to Tax 529 Accounts

President Obama said Friday that the popularity of 529 college savings accounts made him abandon a proposal to end the tax benefits of those accounts just days after first proposing it. "It wasn’t worth it for us to eliminate it," he said during remarks at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana. "The savings weren’t that great.”

Families using 529 plans "were a little more on the high end" of the income scale, Obama said, noting that he has such accounts for his two daughters. "Our thinking was you could save money by eliminating the 529 and shifting it into some other loan programs that would be more broadly based," he said. 

Although his plan would not have retroactively cut the tax benefits for savings that were already in a 529 account, Obama said that enough people liked the program -- or liked the idea of using the program in the future -- for him to change his mind. The plan, which would have raised about $1 billion in revenue over 10 years, also came under attack from both Congressional Republicans and Democrats, including House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. 

A Government Accountability Office study in 2012 found that just 3 percent of families were using 529 savings plans, and roughly half of them earned more than $150,000 a year.

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Guaranty agency buys half of Corinthian Colleges and forgives $480 million in student debt

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ECMC closes deal to buy 53 Corinthian campuses, earning praise from federal agencies and some consumer groups for deal to forgive $480 million in students' private loans.

Yale Adds Funds for Humanities, Social Science Ph.D.s

Yale University will begin providing a sixth year of funding for Ph.D. students in the humanities and social sciences who need it to finish their studies. Yale is the first university to make such a guarantee. Lynn Cooley, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, said in a statement that the new arrangement “will enable students to pursue their doctoral research and gain valuable teaching experience without shortchanging either goal.” (Note: This sentence has been updated from an earlier version, which misquoted Cooley as saying "changing" instead of "shortchanging.") Yale says the stipend will take the form of a guaranteed teaching position -- an experience it says makes students more competitive on the job market -- or other assignments tailored to students’ career goals.

Cooley also said many Yale graduate programs in the humanities and social sciences typically take six years, despite the fact that the current funding package covers only five years. She said she and her colleagues still “strongly encourage students to try to finish in five years, but we know from long experience that some programs take slightly longer, so we are delighted to be able to help students in this way.” The minimum annual stipend for Ph.D. students this at Yale this year is $28,400. Most students will be eligible for sixth-year funding, which starts in the fall.

Ohio's two-year colleges may soon offer bachelor's degrees and access state aid

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Governor wants to allow community colleges to offer bachelor's degrees. He also seeks some state aid for two-year students, who have been frozen out of program since 2009.


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