An article in The Washington Post explores how a student who is eligible for state and federal student aid can fall through the cracks. The student was ordered to move out of Towson University and go home because he hadn't turned in what he owed and a state agency had failed to provide the funds to which he was entitled. The story documents how no one at Towson or the state agency found a way to get the matter settled before he was sent home.
The U.S. Department of Education needs to do a better job of managing the federal grant program for teachers, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.
The TEACH Grant program provides up to $4,000 a year for students who commit to teaching low-income school districts for at least four out of eight years after graduation.
Recipients who don’t follow through on that commitment have their grants converted into loans. About 36,000 of the TEACH Grant’s more than 112,000 recipients have fallen into that category, the G.A.O. found.
In some cases, though, those conversions were the result of the government's or its contractors’ error.
G.A.O. investigators found that between August 2013 and September 2014, 2,252 TEACH Grant recipients had their grants erroneously converted into loans by the company hired by the Education Department to manage the program.
The department said that it mostly agreed with the G.A.O.’s recommendations, which included establishing performance measures for the program and studying why so many TEACH Grant recipients fail to fulfill their service commitment.
Borrowers of federal student loans have a "fundamentally different" relationship to their debt than other financial obligations, according to a new report by the New America think tank.
The report, written by Jason Delisle and Alexander Holt, is based on an analysis of several focus groups of student loan borrowers across the country.
It finds, among other things, that well-intentioned features of the federal loan program -- like making it easier for borrowers to delay payments -- sometimes work not as a fail-safe for borrowers who absolutely cannot pay but as a procrastination tool. Borrowers then end up with larger loan balances to pay.
Some borrowers also reported feeling that the "money wasn't real" when their college distributed federal loans to them, especially when the loans came in the form of refund checks.
"The solution," Delisle and Holt write, "is not to admonish borrowers for laziness or irresponsibility, but to reexamine what makes federal student loans different, and what processes and incentives can be put in place to correct for those differences."
Wyoming Catholic College announced last week that it will not participate in federal student aid or loan programs. The college, founded in 2005, achieved candidate status for accreditation last year, making it eligible to apply to participate in federal student aid programs. But the college's board voted not to participate, citing concerns about federal regulations that are attached to student aid programs. While many private colleges complain about federal regulations, very few opt out of aid programs. The college said it would step up fund-raising efforts so that it could offer more assistance directly to students. A statement from President Kevin Roberts said: “By abstaining from federal funding programs, we will safeguard our mission from unwarranted federal involvement — an involvement increasingly at odds with our Catholic beliefs, the content of our curriculum, and our institutional practices.”
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.