Quick Takes: Compromise Bill Would Slash Pell Spending, New Agenda in NY, Prominent Med Dean Fired, Ph.D. Students Turn Down U. of California, Murders Shake LSU, In-State Tuition for Military Families, All-Nighters vs. Grades

December 17, 2007
  • Democrats in Congress have introduced a compromise spending bill for 2008 that would set the maximum Pell Grant at $4,241, which is $194 less than they proposed six weeks ago and would actually represent a reduction from the $4,310 maximum grant that Congress appropriated for 2007. The change, which is part of a compromise that Congressional leaders have put together to try to win President Bush's signature and avoid a potential government shutdown, would not result in an actual decrease for grant recipients, because Congress provided a $490 Pell boost (from federal mandatory funds) in 2008 through the budget reconciliation legislation that was enacted earlier this year. But the reduction in appropriated funds for student aid disappointed college lobbyists nonetheless, who had feared that the shot in the arm for students from mandatory funds would give Congress latitude to reduce what they made available through the standard appropriations process.
  • New York State needs to give public colleges and universities much more freedom to set their own tuition rates, and for research universities to set significantly higher rates, a panel will urge Gov. Eliot Spitzer today, The New York Times reported. The panel, appointed by the governor, will also recommend the creation of hundreds of new faculty slots, some to be reserved for academic stars. A key question ahead will be how much additional money the state may spend to carry out the recommendations.
  • David A. Kessler, former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, was fired as dean of the medical school of the University of California at San Francisco. The Los Angeles Times reported that Kessler says he was fired after reporting financial inconsistencies and possible financial improprieties, but the university says that Kessler's concerns were unfounded. A follow-up article in the Times noted a series of disputes over finances at the university.
  • While potential doctoral students think highly of the academic quality of the University of California, many are turning down admissions offer because of the high cost of living and the relatively low levels for stipends, according to a university report discussed in The San Francisco Chronicle. The report comes at a time that several private universities have increased their stipends for Ph.D. students.
  • Two graduate students at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge were murdered Thursday night. The Baton Rouge Advocate reported that police are seeking a group of men seen fleeing the scene. The students who were killed were from India and the incident has been particularly unsettling for foreign students.
  • Michigan Technological University has announced a new policy of offering in-state tuition rates to the children or spouses of those on active duty in the U.S. military, regardless of their legal state of residence.
  • As students prepare for finals and finishing their papers, many are pulling all-nighters. But research that will appear next month in the journal Behavioral Sleep Medicine suggests that those all-nighters aren't helpful. Pamela Thatcher, an associate professor of psychology at St. Lawrence University studied the sleep patterns and grade-point averages of college students and found that those who regularly pull all-nighters have lower grades.
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