Opinion: Why Governor Snyder is wrong about college access

Elections are amazing things. For some reason, I thought of an address Michigan Governor Rick Snyder gave in front of the West Michigan Policy Forum last fall, says Patrick O’Connor, Associate Dean of College Counseling, Cranbrook-Kingswood School; Author, ‘College is Yours 2.0’.  He reflected on the national effort to make a four-year college education accessible to more Americans by saying he thought the country had “sorta messed up.” At the time he gave the speech, there was a shortage of skilled trade workers, and a great deal of media coverage about the lack of jobs available to recent college graduates. This apparent mismatch of supply and demand was too much for the governor to take, so he summed up the efforts of the college access movement of the last four decades in four simple words: “How dumb is that?”

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Commission examining federal rule that could ‘impede access’ to online education

The commission will have an adviser from the Education Department.

A group of influential policy makers will review a federal regulation that has drawn the scorn of online college officials who say the government rule could leave students in small states without access to web-based courses.

“State authorization” rules have been at the center of an ongoing debate among federal officials pushing colleges to register online programs in every state in which they operate, and campus decision makers who call the law onerous and overreaching.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) lost a court battle over the state authorization rules last year, but ED officials have continued to push for the regulations. And the U.S. House of Representatives in February voted to eliminate state authorization rules in a rare bipartisan vote.…Read More

Global access to higher education on the rise

The director of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College charted trends in university systems across the globe during a talk Tuesday at Harvard, the Harvard Crimson reports. In particular, Director Philip G. Altbach said poor people around the world continue to see growing access to higher education. He used the United States as an example: “From the 1960s up to today, we see a tendency of higher education in the United States moving from being only accessible to elites, to including general masses of people, and ultimately towards the direction of being universally accessible.”

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Online counseling pushing college students toward risky private loans

More than half of private loan borrowers don’t maximize their federal student aid options.

College and university websites should require prospective students to check their eligibility for federal student aid before private loans with ever-changing interest rates are presented as a legitimate option, according to a report from a nonprofit group advocating for greater college access and affordability.

One-on-one counseling, either in face-to-face meetings or over the phone, is the “most effective” way to find college loans that won’t cost student thousands of dollars in exorbitant interest charges, while web-based counseling makes it “too easy [for students] to acknowledge receiving detailed information without actually reading or comprehending it,” said the report, published by The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS).

TICAS, a California-based nonprofit organization, is a prominent supporter of the Income Based Repayment (IBR) plan, which allows college students to adjust their federal student aid payments according to their reported income. The plan went into effect in 2009.…Read More

Online college classes: An answer to budget shortfalls?

Sharing online content could save California colleges tens of thousands of dollars per course, a new report says.

California’s use of online distance education is “limited,” and campuses across the state should partner with a leading online university to expand students’ access to a college degree through online college classes, according to an extensive review of the state’s college access.

“Using Distance Education to Increase College Access and Efficiency,” released Oct. 25 by California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), suggests campus officials could create more college access through online college classes despite the state’s budget woes that have raised tuition at many public institutions.

Bringing more online college classes to California, the report says, is the next step in fulfilling the Master Plan for Higher Education, a statewide framework published 50 years ago that promotes universal access to a college education.…Read More

Feds grant $20 million to expand college access

More than 1,700 applicants vied for ED's i3 grants.
More than 1,700 applicants vied for ED's Investing in Innovation grants.

Students in Pennsylvania and Kentucky will get an extra dose of academic advising and career counseling—aided by educational technology—after the U.S. Department of Education (ED) gave $20 million to an organization aiming to boost college access among first-generation, minority, and low-income students.

The $20 million grant to the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization, will be matched with a $4 million grant from the GE Foundation that will target greater college access for low-income students in Louisville, Ky., and Erie, Pa.

The federal grant was made through the Investing in Innovation program, which doled out more than $600 million in September to colleges, universities, nonprofits, and school districts nationwide. Investing in Innovation was created in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.…Read More