Congressional Democrats and the White House reached agreement Wednesday on the higher education portion of revamped budget reconciliation legislation, the text of which is available here. The measure would provide $36 billion in new spending on Pell Grants (allowing the maximum grant to reach $5,975 by 2017 and linking increases in the grant to the inflation rate, but only from 2013 to 2017), $2.55 billion for historically black and other minority-serving institutions, and $750 million for college access completion grants. And in a turnaround from a few days ago, when it became clear that the legislation would not finance the community-college focused American Graduation Initiative, the measure would provide $2 billion for a competitive grant program for two-year community college and career training programs, aimed at supporting careers of the future. The legislation would also funnel $9 billion to help pay for the health care provisions in the overall budget legislation, and another $10 billion to reduce the deficit. A fuller report on the legislation will appear on Inside Higher Ed Friday.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Anyone for a Constitutional convention? If the debate over health care wasn't evidence enough of how broken Congress is, try this: the San Francisco Chronicle's account of a disagreement between two members of the House of Representatives over resolutions honoring successful college sports teams. According to the newspaper, Rep. Peter Campbell, a California Republican, delayed a vote this week on a resolution recognizing the University of Maryland's men's basketball team for qualifying for the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I tournament. His formal reason for opposing the resolution was that teams shouldn't be recognized for merely earning a spot in a tournament, but his real motivation, the Chronicle reported, was payback for Rep. Steny Hoyer, the Maryland Democrat who sponsored the resolution. Last fall, Hoyer had (as reported by the Orange County Register) helped scuttle a vote on a Campbell-sponsored resolution recognizing the University of California at Irvine for winning the NCAA's men's volleyball title. Hoyer had acted at the behest of Rep. George Miller, a California Democrat who was annoyed at Campbell for opposing a recycling bill he was pushing. Campbell had opposed that legislation, the newspapers reported, because of a disagreement with Miller over another California water issue. Your tax dollars at work.
California community college students who are eligible for financial aid but don't apply for it may be losing up to a half billion dollars, according to a new analysis by the Institute for College Access and Success. While many community college students in California enroll part time, and such students nationally are less likely than others to seek federal aid, the study said that even among full-time students, those at California community colleges who are likely to be eligible are less likely than those in other states to apply.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology told applicants whether they got in this year last Sunday, at 1:59 p.m. Why? As The Boston Globe reported, the date was 3/14 -- or Pi Day, an ideal time to learn about a future at the institute. Next year, however, with Pi Day falling on Monday, officials won't do the same thing, as they don't want students distracted during the school day.
The Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish organizations have written to Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, urging him to assure that the Office for Civil Rights protects Jewish students from harassment or intimidation based on their ethnicity or religion. OCR under the Bush administration gave conflicting signs about whether it considered that it had authority to explore such issues. A statement from the ADL said: "ADL has significant concerns about harassment and intimidation of Jewish students on college campuses – including in the context of heated debate over Israel. We believe the Department of Education should use its civil rights enforcement power to investigate and remedy serious incidents in which Jewish students are threatened, harassed, or intimidated to the point where their college experience is impaired."
New Jersey's governor on Tuesday proposed an austere budget for higher education (and most everything else), recommending a cut of about 15 percent in operating funds and a reduction of nearly 5 percent in financial aid for students. But the most stunning aspect of the governor's 2011 budget plan for public college officials was its proposal (see page 33) to strip Thomas Edison State College of $5.6 million in state funds and merge the online education institution into Rutgers University. The governor's budget plan bills the merger as a logical way to bring Rutgers's brand of classroom-based learning to Trenton, which is home to Thomas Edison, while "leveraging the two institutions' distance learning programming." Under the merger, Rutgers would also take over the State Museum and Library that Thomas Edison now oversees, for a total savings of $8.4 million. Public college officials, though, note that Trenton already has a classroom-based public institution, the College of New Jersey, and that enormous, research-oriented Rutgers would make an unlikely and discordant overseer of Thomas Edison's unusual brand of personalized education for adult students and overseas military personnel. Thomas Edison officials reportedly did not learn about the proposed merger until early Tuesday, and could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
Chase announced Tuesday that it would no longer participate in the Federal Family Education Loan Program, which would be eliminated under the student loan restructuring plan now before Congress, Student Lending Analytics reported. In an e-mail message to college financial aid officials, the guaranteed loan program's fifth-largest lender in fiscal 2009 said that it would stop accepting applications from borrowers in mid-April, though it would continue to offer private student loans.
Franklin Pierce Law Center on Tuesday announced plans to affiliate with the University of New Hampshire and to eventually merge into the larger institution. Pierce Law, as it is known, is a freestanding private law school (the only one in New Hampshire) and is not part of Franklin Pierce University. The announcement comes as several other freestanding private law schools have announced similar moves or consideration of such moves.
In a new policy brief, the American Association of Community Colleges calls on the federal government to encourage the establishment of state “postsecondary longitudinal data systems” that “capture the workforce outcomes of educational pursuits.” The brief argues that “the data that are gathered to evaluate [workforce] outcomes must reflect the post-college occupational experiences” of community college student, who end up in occupations as varied as child-care providers, nurses, engineers and members of the armed services.
Stuart Dorsey, president of the University of Redlands, quit Tuesday, citing divisions on the campus over budget cuts, The Press-Enterprise reported. The university is facing a budget deficit and considering cuts, including faculty positions."I regret that I, rightly or wrongly, have become the personification and focal point of the budget controversy that is raging and threatens to damage that asset," the president said. "Very, very reluctantly and with deep sadness, but out of respect and love for this great university, I have concluded that it is best for me to step aside." The university is considering a plan to close the computer science, Japanese and speech/debate departments, The San Bernardino County Sun reported.