Confused By Your College Financial Aid Letter? You’re Not Alone

This time last year, McKenna Hensley had a big question on her mind: Where would she go to college? The answer — sort of — was somewhere in her pile of 10 financial aid offers. Each school she’d been admitted to had its own individualized letter, terms and calculations.

“It was very confusing,” the now college freshman remembers.

One letter sticks out in her mind: The school had bolded about $76,000 in the upper-right corner of its offer. She remembers smiling really big and thinking, “I got a lot of money!” But when she looked a little closer, she saw that the big number included loans. Hensley was determined not to borrow. She took the letter and added up all the costs of attending, then subtracted the grants and scholarships and found she was still about $30,000 short.

Full story at npr.org

Education Department Memo Says DeVos Can Guide States on Arming Teachers

AN INTERNAL MEMO between high-ranking officials within the Department of Education says Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has the authority to tell states and school districts whether or not they can use federal funds to arm teachers – an authority she has repeatedly denied having.

The memo, presented Wednesday during a House Education and Labor Committee hearing, where the secretary was testifying on the administration’s education agenda, outlines allowable uses of federal funding for school safety measures and specifically assesses the potential use of funds for firearms and firearms training.

“The Department’s Office of the General Counsel has advised that the Secretary has discretion to interpret the broad language of the statute as to its permissiveness regarding the purchase of firearms and training on the use of firearms,” the memo reads.

Full story at US News

13 Parents, 1 Coach to Plead Guilty in College Admissions Scandal

THIRTEEN PARENTS AND A former college tennis coach have agreed to plead guilty for their part in the college admissions cheating scandal that rocked higher education last month, federal authorities said Monday.

The group includes “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman, whom authorities say paid a consultant to increase her daughter’s SAT score.

The parents each agreed to plead guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest-services mail fraud, according to reports.

Several dozen people, including more than 30 parents, were charged in what is the largest college admissions scandal ever prosecuted by federal authorities. Prosecutors say that some wealthy parents paid a consultant, Rick Singer, to rig their children’s standardized test scores while others bribed athletic coaches in a bid to guarantee their children spots at prestigious schools.

Full story at US News

Study: Public Universities Prioritize Out-of-State, Wealthy, White Students

SOME PUBLIC universities disproportionately direct their recruiting efforts on out-of-state students from affluent, white communities and private schools, a new study shows, adding fuel to an increasingly fiery debate about inequity within higher education that colleges and universities have been trying to sidestep for years.

“In contrast to rhetoric from university leaders, our findings suggest strong socioeconomic and racial biases in the enrollment priorities of many public research universities,” researchers wrote.

“A small number of universities exhibit recruiting patterns broadly consistent with the historical mission of social mobility for meritorious state residents,” they said. “However, most universities concentrated recruiting visits in wealthy, out-of-state communities while also privileging affluent schools in in-state visits.”

Full story at US News

Study: Public Universities Prioritize Out-of-State, Wealthy, White Students

SOME PUBLIC universities disproportionately direct their recruiting efforts on out-of-state students from affluent, white communities and private schools, a new study shows, adding fuel to an increasingly fiery debate about inequity within higher education that colleges and universities have been trying to sidestep for years.

“In contrast to rhetoric from university leaders, our findings suggest strong socioeconomic and racial biases in the enrollment priorities of many public research universities,” researchers wrote.

“A small number of universities exhibit recruiting patterns broadly consistent with the historical mission of social mobility for meritorious state residents,” they said. “However, most universities concentrated recruiting visits in wealthy, out-of-state communities while also privileging affluent schools in in-state visits.”

Full story at US News

Secretary DeVos Issues Statement on President Trump’s Higher Education Executive Order

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released the following statement today on President Trump’s Executive Order on “Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities”:

“All students should have access to relevant, accurate, and transparent data when making decisions about their education. President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order on ‘Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities’ once again demonstrates this Administration’s commitment to supporting and empowering students with meaningful resources as they pursue their life-long learning journeys and future careers.

“Per the Executive Order, the Department will continue its efforts to update the College Scorecard so that it includes clear information on the cost of college, expected earnings after graduation, and student loan repayment rates. We will also continue our Federal Student Aid modernization efforts that began with the launch of our first ever mobile app.  Right now, students can use the app to complete the FAFSA. And, building on the President’s directive, the app’s capabilities will expand to give students access to information about loan balances, payments, and repayment options right at their fingertips. We believe that these important reforms, along with the Department’s ambitious negotiated rule making agenda, will make college more affordable, break down barriers to innovation in higher education, and encourage new approaches and new partnerships for the benefit of students.

Full story at ed.gov

U.S. Mathematician Becomes First Woman To Win Abel Prize, ‘Math’s Nobel’

“I find that I am bored with anything I understand,” Karen Uhlenbeck once said – and that sense of curiosity is part of why she won the prestigious Abel Prize, from the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

Uhlenbeck, an influential mathematician who was for decades a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and who has sought to encourage women to study mathematics, has become the first woman to win the Abel Prize — often called the Nobel Prize of math.

Uhlenbeck’s complex and wide-ranging work includes analyzing the “minimal surfaces” of soap bubbles and finding ways to unite geometry and physics through new mathematical approaches. She’s widely respected for her work on esoteric topics, such as partial differential equations and the calculus of variations.

Full story at NPR

Secretary DeVos Issues Statement on Higher Education Act Reform Principles Introduced During National Council for the American Worker Meeting

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released the following statement on the Administration’s Higher Education Act reform principles released during today’s meeting of the National Council for the American Worker:

“To meet the needs of our nation’s students and our growing economy, we must rethink higher education. Right now, there are 7.3 million unfilled jobs in the United States, yet too many Americans remain out of the workforce because they lack the skills necessary to seize these opportunities. We must do better for our students and workers. There should be multiple educational pathways to a successful career, and the federal government shouldn’t pick winners and losers amongst them. At the same time, higher education should be more affordable, nimble and relevant. Institutions of higher education need to be freed-up to implement new ideas that could fill the many gaps between education and the economy. The Department of Education is currently leading that effort through ambitious negotiated rule making which seeks to break down the barriers to innovation in higher education and encourage new approaches and new partnerships.

Full story at ed.gov

White Privilege and the College Admissions Scandal

“WHAT WE DO IS WE HELP the wealthiest families in the U.S. get their kids into school.”

William Rick Singer, a Newport Beach, California-based college admissions expert, wasted no time cutting to the chase in a conversation with a parent, which the FBI recorded last June.

“They want guarantees, they want this thing done. They don’t want to be messing around with this thing. And so they want in at certain schools. So I did 761 what I would call, ‘side doors.'”

He elaborated: “There is a front door which means you get in on your own. The back door is through institutional advancement, which is ten times as much money. And I’ve created this side door in.”

Full story at US News

Teachers Union Launches National Education-Funding Campaign

THE AMERICAN FEDERATION of Teachers, the 1.7 million-member teachers union, announced a major education initiative Monday aimed at pressing lawmakers in state capitals and Congress to increase funding for public schools and universities.

The move, which includes a six-figure advertising campaign, further catapults to the national stage the educator unrest that’s unfurled across the country as teachers take to the picket lines to protest underfunded school systems, low pay, overcrowded classes and lack of resources for special education and support staff, including nurses, librarians and school counselors.

“You’ve seen a growing frustration of parents and students and educators sweeping the nation,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said Monday. “While those have been very inspiring sparks, we are having funding fights in virtually every state capital and in Washington, D.C. And the root cause of every single one of those teacher walkouts that have been roiling the country is the lack of appropriate investments.”

Full story at US News