Advising Corps raises college aspirations

The National College Advising Corps sends recent college graduates to high schools to help low-income students understand their postsecondary options, get waivers for admissions test fees, write essays and apply for financial aid.

Obama college plan needs reality check

President Obama’s plan to link financial aid to college “value” will penalize lower-income students for attending colleges with low graduation rates and low earnings for graduates, argue two analysts, who call for a “reality check.”

Comparing college graduation rates is meaningless, unless students’ academic ability and other characteristics are taken into account.

Obama vows college cost controls

President Obama vowed to “shake up” higher education and “tackle rising costs,” in a speech on the economy that stressed college affordability for middle-class families.

A bipartisan student loan bill that will lower interest rates – at least for now — has passed the Senate and is expected to become law. The compromise ties interest rates to the government’s cost of borrowing.

Parents are spending less of their income on their children’s college costs and relying more on grants, scholarships, financial aid — and frugality — Sallie Mae reports.

Getting poor kids to good colleges — for $6 per student

Informing low-income, high-achieving students about college options and financial aid is a very cost-effective way to encourage more low-income students to attend top colleges, where they’re more likely to earn a degree, make valuable connections and move up the social and economic ladder. An information program cost $6 per student, financial aid assistance cost $100 per additional student enrolled and increasing Stafford loans costs $20,000 per additional student, estimates Brookings researchers.

Underemployed grads regret their choices

Most college graduates are underemployed and wish they’d made other choices, conclude two different surveys of young Americans. Not surprisingly, young people who majored in health and STEM fields are doing the best, while liberal arts majors are the most likely to be working in retail and restaurant jobs that don’t require a college degree.

Students who are the first in their families to go to college need help to untangle an increasingly complex financial aid system.

Redesigning college aid — without spending more

A “more understandable effective and fair” student aid system doesn’t need to cost taxpayers more money, concludes a new report that calls for shifting funding and incentives to help needy students and encourage speedy completion of degrees.

Federal grants to college students should be replaced with grants to states, which would have to match the money, recommends another report.

Indiana may tie college aid to state exam

Students will have to pass Indiana’s graduation exam to qualify for state-funded college aid under a bill moving through the Legislature, reports the Indianapolis Star. Those at risk of failing the state exam will be offered remedial courses in 12th grade.

Students can graduate without passing the exam by getting a waiver. More than a quarter of Indianapolis Public Schools graduates needed waivers to earn diplomas last year, reports the Star.

“The bill is intended to break a cycle in which a student achieves a high school diploma, enrolls in a college, is given a placement exam and then told they need remediation,” said Dan Clark, executive director of the Education Roundtable. “Then they must use their financial aid to pay for it.”

. . .  “Sometimes they go into debt to pay for these courses,” Clark said, “and the evidence is clear very few students who have this cycle ever graduate from an institution of higher education.”

Older students enrolling in college would have to pass placement tests to qualify for state aid under the bill. “I’m worried that this is one more road block,”said Jeff Terp, a senior vice president at Ivy Tech Community College.

The bill’s advocates say students should catch up on basic skills in high school or in adult education courses, rather than taking remedial courses in college.

37 million college dropouts

Some 37 million Americans have “some college” but no credential. What would help more reach their goals — and boost the economy?

Financial aid should be redesigned to help needy students, says the National College Access Network.  That means dumping subsidized loans and tax credits for families earning $100,000 or more. The savings could fund Pell Grants for low- and moderate-income students.

$100,000 in debt for a dream college?

You Can’t Always Get What You Want, writes a graduating senior at New York City’s elite Stuyvesant High. After earning top grades, test scores, etc., the well-rounded student got into three dream universities — but the financial-aid offers were meager. She’d have to borrow $100,000 over four years or ask her near-retirement-aged parents to drain their life savings.

. . .  I could either take on the debt for a brand-name school and pray to the deities of the job market that I’d get a job lucrative enough to pay it off (which is what many of my peers are doing, I learned), or I could graduate debt-free from a less prestigious school and hope that I’d get hired despite my not-nearly-as-impressive-but-decent undergraduate credentials.

She’s heading for a state university, where she plans to graduate at the top of her class with minimal debt, get a good job and start saving so her kids can go where ever they want.

She’s bitter about having to say no to her dream schools, but she’ll enjoy the freedom to do the work she wants. It’s no fun being a debt slave.

If your parents can’t afford private-college tuition, but are paying your state university bills, don’t whine about it, advises Ann Althouse. “The culture has truly tipped, with everyone feeling entitled to things they can’t pay for and assuming somebody else over there will pay somehow, some time.”

Dem platform lauds new standards, skips RTTT

The Democratic platform hails Common Core State Standards, allegedly a bipartisan state initiative, as an Obama administration achievement, notes Ed Week’s Politics K-12. Race to the Top, the administration’s signature education initiative, isn’t mentioned by name.

Republican convention-goers already fear “Obama Core” is “being used by the president to take over the nation’s educational system,” writes Andrew Ujufusa.

Not surprisingly, the platform praises teachers.

The party notes that Obama has acted to “save” more than 400,000 educator jobs, and that he wants to prevent even more layoffs while also “rewarding great teachers.” This is an apparent reference to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (known as the stimulus) as well as the Education Jobs Fund.

On the subject of evaluations, it tip-toes around sensitive issues (read: low-performing teachers who get fired) with the following language: “We also believe in carefully crafted evaluation systems that give struggling teachers a chance to succeed and protect due process if another teacher has to be put in the classroom.”

The platform also praises the government takeover of college loans, the increase in Pell Grants for low- and moderate-income students and Obama’s threat to reduce their federal aid to colleges that fail to control costs and double work-study jobs.

Montana Superintendent Denise Juneau, who didn’t apply for a NCLB waiver, was given a speaking slot. Though otherwise obscure, she’s a Native American.

Ed Week rounds up the education talk in the first-night speeches. President Obama is responsible for a low-performing Massachusetts K-8 school lengthening its school day (state funding) and using experiential learning, said Gov. Deval Patrick.

“Today’s Republicans and their nominee for president tell us that those 1st graders are on their own: on their own to deal with poverty, with ill-prepared young parents … with a job market that needs skills they don’t have, with no way to pay for college,” Patrick said.

I’m not surprised they don’t have job skills. They’re in first grade, for pete’s sake!