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 Edreported 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Families are spending more on college, but parents are less concerned about that investment paying off, according to the results of a new survey from Sallie Mae, the student lender.
The study is based on phone interviews with 800 traditional-aged undergraduates and 800 parents of traditional-aged students. It is the eight installment of the survey. Results show that spending on college was up across the board this year, but that a 25 percent increase by high-income families was responsible for the bulk of the increase. Parents' out-of-pocket spending exceeded scholarships and grants for the first time since 2010.
However, fewer parents reported being "extremely worried" that their college-student children won't find a job after college -- 13 percent said this in 2015 compared to 27 percent the previous year. In addition, fewer parents were worried about student loan interest rates. Overall, six of 10 families did not borrow money to pay for college.
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:
Congrats to Oregon on passing two years of free community college! Every hardworking student deserves access to higher education.