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Education officials in Colorado received an early Christmas gift this year following the announcement that planned education budget cuts of $89 million will no longer be necessary, reports Bloomberg BusinessWeek.
Colleges and universities in the state will still face some cuts, although they will not be as severe as initially thought. The budget for higher education will be reduced by $30 million as opposed to $60 million. Of the $30 million allocated for higher education, around $25 million would be used to provide financial aid programs such as scholarships to students.
The reduction in necessary cuts is due to unexpected growth in employment, state tax income and expansion of the state's oil and gas industries. These factors mean that state revenues will be $231 million more than expected.
"I didn't know it was in your job description to be Santa's helper this year," said Senator Kent Lambert, addressing state budget director Henry Sobanet, as quoted by the news source.
Just two days ago, Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia urged policymakers to reconsider budget cuts that would affect student financial aid, reports the Pueblo Times. Garcia told the Joint Budget Committee that the state needs to increase the number of students graduating from colleges if the state is to remain competitive.
Many students will be relieved to hear that the maximum amount of financial aid provided by Pell Grants will be maintained, reports the Huffington Post.
However, a compromise reached between the House of Representatives and the Senate means that fewer students will be eligible for Pell Grants under the new legislation.
"We had to make some very painful cuts in this bill to meet our allocation," Senator Tom Harkin, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told the news source. "I am very pleased we could minimize the damage in education, maintain the maximum Pell Grant award and actually provide some increases for Head Start, Title I, special education and Promise Neighborhoods."
According to the New America Foundation, students with an income of less than $23,000 per year may be eligible to apply for the financial aid, lowered from $30,000. The number of years that students can use Pell Grants has also been reduced, from nine years to six.
When you're filling out college applications, talk to your college admissions counselor. Although the new laws may be confusing, they will be able to advise you about which financial aid packages you're eligible for and how to apply for them.
For many students, college can be expensive. Between tuition, course materials and living expenses, times are tough for some freshmen. However, students can benefit from emergency hardship funds that are operated by colleges such as Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Stephen Ratner and Jordan Stein, two seniors at Emory, started the fund to provide emergency relief to students who are struggling financially. Individuals can apply for up to $500 in funds to help them out with necessities like food, transport and any other expenses they need to get by.
"The money came at a perfect time because I was afraid I’d have to move back home," Jarquisha Hollings, a recipient of a hardship grant, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "A lot of college students are struggling and we need help. Students need to know they can ask for and get help."
Even if you've already applied for financial aid and scholarship packages, don't be afraid to ask your college's development office if there are any similar programs available. Going without basic necessities can affect your studies, your grades and maybe even your degree, so don't be too proud to ask for help if you're really struggling.
Despite reports of education budget cuts in states like California, Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell has pledged to increase higher education spending to $100 million per year for the next two years, reports The Washington Post.
The money will be allocated to colleges based on a variety of conditions. Graduation rates, admissions factors and student learning outcomes will all contribute to how much federal funding universities receive under the new plans. In addition to making college more accessible to students, ensuring a competitive edge for the state is also a key objective of the funding increases.
"This is about [students'] future as individuals, and our future as a Commonwealth. In this competitive global economy, the more Virginia students who attend our colleges and universities and emerge with the skills and training necessary to compete for the best jobs in the 21st century, the stronger our state will be in the years ahead," said McDonnell, as quoted by WTVR News.
Of the total yearly funding allowance, more than $6 million per year will be used to increase financial aid to students, in addition to $5.8 million that will expand the Tuition Access Grant financial aid program.
When you're filling out college applications, applying for financial aid can really help reduce the costs of earning your degree. Don't forget to look into scholarships, too.
President Barack Obama has signed an executive order that requires state education authorities to assist tribal colleges in closing achievement gaps between Native American and other students, reports Inside Higher Ed.
In a statement published on the White House's website, the president outlines plans for addressing the growing academic achievement gaps in Native American academic institutions. The president pledged to offer additional federal support to these colleges to ensure that Native American students have access to the resources and assistance they need to succeed. Such measures could also encourage more Native Americans to fill out college applications.
"Recent studies show that [Native American and Alaskan Native] students are dropping out of school at an alarming rate, that our nation has made little or no progress in closing the achievement gap between [these] students and their [non-Native American and Alaskan Native] student counterparts," reads the order.
According to research conducted by the Southwest Comprehensive Center, some of the reasons for the growing achievement gap in Native American higher education include high staff turnaround in colleges, students' socioeconomic status, and a lack of faculty training in delivering culturally relevant curricula.
The Hattiesburg American reports that a major part of the order will focus on increased cooperation and communication between tribal leaders, Native American colleges and state education authorities.
President Barack Obama, White House officials and the leaders of various colleges and universities have been discussing ways to allocate funding to academic institutions based on how well they perform, reports The Christian Science Monitor.
Among the issues discussed at the recent meeting, stagnating graduation rates despite rising numbers of college applications, employer expectations of graduates and the allocation of Pell grants based on schools' performance topped the agenda. Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, said that federal funding should be dispersed based on factors such as maintaining tuition fees, closing gaps in student achievement and boosting completion rates.
"Dozens of colleges and universities have either cut or frozen tuition, or provide a four-year graduation guarantee, where the college agrees to cover the cost of the extra time it takes a full-time student to graduate," Duncan said in a speech earlier this year, as quoted by the news outlet. He added that measures like this would provide students with a more accessible education, and that performance-based scholarships would ensure that graduates can display "demonstrated competence."
Federal funding, such as Pell grants, have come under intense scrutiny as the government seeks to save money to reduce the national deficit. According to Campus Progress, the House of Representatives' Budget Committee is considering cutting $896 million in funding to the Pell grants program.
In a shakeup of how colleges and universities in New Mexico are funded, schools will receive federal education funds based on how well they are performing, reports New Mexico Business Weekly.
According to the news source, federal education spending has been reduced by 16 percent from 2009 to 2011, a reduction of $113 million. The new proposals announced by New Mexico's Higher Education Secretary Jose Garcia will mean that schools performing well will be allocated more funding than those that are not.
Under the new legislation, schools will have to demonstrate how many students are completing courses; the number of degrees and certificates awarded in comparison to how many college applications they receive; graduation levels of "at-risk" students from economically challenged backgrounds; and how much emphasis is placed on science, technology, engineering and math – or STEM – majors.
"The federal government can ease the burden of tuition increases with financial aid, but there is no mechanism for it to force the states to maintain funding for higher [education]," Terry Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education, told The New York Times. "And what legislators see is that tuition goes up and enrollment stays high."
President Barack Obama has extended invitations to the leaders of about 10 colleges and universities in an attempt to discuss the higher education system, reports Inside Higher Ed.
Among the topics the president wishes to discuss are the productivity of academic institutions, and the growing issue of the affordability of a college education. The news source reports that the calling of a meeting at short notice with the president in direct attendance is unusual, and that education reform could be a significant part of President Obama's reelection campaign.
"The cost of college has nearly tripled over the past three decades, forcing students to take out more loans and rack up more debt in pursuit of the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in a 21st century economy," Melody Barnes, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, wrote in the invitations as quoted by the news source.
In a recent address at the University of Colorado's Denver campus, President Obama said that although a college education is something that should be considered an investment in a student's future, the system should not be saddling people with more debt than they can afford to pay.
Are you thinking of filling out a college application? What do you think about the price of education?
As the debate over the escalating student debt problem continues, the two newest public universities in Arizona will test innovative ways of providing students with a more affordable education, according to Inside Higher Ed.
Northern Arizona University's campus in Prescott Valley and Arizona State University's (ASU) Lake Havasu campus will be the test group for new ways of funding public colleges to assess whether such plans can effectively reduce the amount that students have to pay to earn their degrees.
Perhaps the boldest measure introduced as part of the pilot project is that the two campuses will attempt to fund operational costs, such as faculty wages and utilities, purely from tuition revenues without the support of state funding. Traditionally, state educational funding has accounted for around 25 percent of how such schools are funded, a figure that has declined steadily since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008.
"Given the economic difficulties, this could be the nature of how things are going to be financed in the future," Richard Stanley, senior vice president of ASU, told the news source. "Different groups are seeing the value of putting incentives together."
Such initiatives could be welcome news for students who are considering filling out college applications. According to the Washington Times, the total amount of student debt is set to exceed $1 trillion this year, more than the amount of debt owed by Americans on credit cards.
In today's challenging economy, earning a college degree has never been more important – or expensive. Following President Barack Obama's recent announcement to reform the way that students can repay their loans, the House of Representative's subcommittee on education discussed ways in which the cost of attending a university can be lowered, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Views on President Obama's plans were mixed, with Representative Virginia Foxx, a Republican from North Carolina, saying that the proposals did not do enough to address the growing problems of student debt and rising tuition costs. Democratic Representative Rubén E. Hinojosa of Texas, however, supported Obama's plan and urged the subcommittee to consider ways of making higher education more accessible.
"It's vitally important that we do not create new obstacles for low-income, first-generation, and nontraditional and minority students," Hinojosa said, as quoted by the news source. He added that students from such groups were sending out more college applications than ever.
Discussions on student loan debt, which is approaching $1 trillion for the first time, have been high on many political agendas. According to The New York Times, the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently called for a renewed sense of urgency in the discussions, and said that that higher education officials need to think more creatively about how to solve the escalating problem of student debt.
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