Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 5, 2014

For the second time this year, the U.S. Department of Education will reprocess tens of thousands of federal student aid applications because of a decimal place error, officials announced Thursday.The department said that next week it will reprocess "less than 160,000" applications where officials suspect a student may have incorrectly inserted a decimal place into the online application's income box, artificially boosting his or her wealth in the eyes of the federal formula that determines aid.

The misreported adjusted gross income, in some cases, may have led students to be denied for a Pell Grant or have their award reduced from what it should have been had they correctly filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA. Some of those errors were caught in July when the department reprocessed 182,155 applications to correct a similar error in the "earned income from work" box, officials said.  Most of those applications, however, involved students appearing qualified for more aid than they should have been. 

In the current batch of reprocessing, department officials said they are targeting applications where a student's adjusted gross income is greater than $100,000 or a parent's adjusted gross income is listed above $500,000. "While meeting these criteria does not mean that an error occurred -- we actually do have students who earn more than $100,000 and parents who earn more than $500,000 -- we believe that it would be prudent for institutions to review these transactions to ensure that the financial information is accurate," the department's announcement said. 

The department on July 1 reprogrammed its online FAFSA form to automatically drop any fractional dollar amounts that are erroneously entered into the system, which accepts only whole numbers, in order to prevent the problem from recurring. 

September 5, 2014

The "ice bucket challenge" has been remarkably uncontroversial as many campuses have embraced it, but not at Ohio University. President Roderick McDavis participated and -- as many presidents have -- challenged his student body president. But Megan Marzec, president of the Student Senate, responded by making a video in which she poured fake blood on herself after demanding that the university end links to Israel and sell any stocks in companies that do business in Israel, The Athens News reported. The Student Senate has apologized for the video.


September 5, 2014

A student at Towson University had a special reason for missing class on Thursday: It was Beyoncé's birthday.

Ja-Niece Best tweeted a photo of an email she sent to one of her professors explaining, "On September 4, 1981 The Lord blessed us all with the Goddess that is Queen Beyoncé Knowles-Carter's birthday. Out of respect, I will not be attending class today." The email's title? "Excused Absence."

According to Buzzfeed, Best had only intended to save the message as a draft, but hit "send" by mistake.

There is no word on whether or not she ended up going to class.

September 5, 2014

Purdue University on Thursday announced a plan to create a new cross-disciplinary bachelor's degree. The Purdue Polytechnic Institute, which is a recently launched "transformational engine" housed in the College of Technology, will design the degree program. Mitch Daniels, the university's president, in January announced a contest for departments to submit proposals for a three-year degree and competency-based programs. The institute won the $500,000 prize for its competency-based degree idea.

September 5, 2014

Time again for our monthly Cartoon Caption Contest, in which we seek to tap into our readers' creative intelligence.

Suggest a caption for this month's cartoon. The author of the winning caption will receive an Amazon gift certificate and a copy of the cartoon signed by the artist Matthew Henry Hall.

Vote for your favorite here from among the three nominees chosen by our panel of judges for last month's cartoon.

And congratulations to Tracey May, winner of our Cartoon Caption Contest for July. May is an administrative assistant at Dalton State College's Gilmer County Center, in Georgia. Her caption for the cartoon at right -- "Are we sure combining the helminthology lab and the cafeteria to save space is a good idea?" -- earned the most votes from our readers.

September 5, 2014

Florida State University has begun a disciplinary review into an alleged sexual assault involving its star football quarterback, The New York Times reported. The December 2012 incident allegedly involving Jameis Winston has spurred intense criticism (including an April Times article) for seemingly lax procedures by local law enforcement officials and the university. A lawyer for the former student who was allegedly assaulted told the Times that Florida State officials had interviewed his client last month. A university spokeswoman said she could not discuss any specific case.

September 5, 2014

China has released its plans for changing its national college entrance exam, the Gaokao, the South China Morning Post reported. Among other things, the changes would stagger some of the testing over the course of students’ high school careers rather than having all the tests be administered at once. 

September 5, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Lauri Byerly, associate professor of sports and health sciences at American Public University, examines whether the young adults to whom energy drinks are marketed are actually consuming them. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


September 4, 2014

Faculty members and administrators in Idaho have been protesting a new law permitting concealed carry on campus. On Tuesday, an instructor with a concealed carry permit accidentally shot himself in the foot, in a classroom with others present, The Idaho State Journal reported. The gun was in the instructor's pocket when it went off.


September 4, 2014

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is struggling to track down more than 6,000 foreign nationals who overstayed their student visas and have not been located since, ABC News reported.

"My greatest concern is that they could be doing anything," an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official told ABC. "Some of them could be here to do us harm."

The broadcaster also reported on the problem of visa fraud and of loose standards for institutions seeking certification to host international students. 


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