Community College Watch: Recent Financial Aid Related News Stories

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If you have been shoveling out after the recent snow storms, you may have missed some of these news stories related to community colleges. Don’t worry! We are keeping an eye out for stories and developments impacting financial aid at community colleges across the country. Here are some recent articles and reports:

Is Community College Already Free? It’s More Complicated Than That, Researchers Say

The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 22, 2016

One critique of the free-college movement, or even debt-free college, is that students have plenty of low-cost options within higher education. For instance, community colleges. “Public two-year colleges … are free or nearly free for low-income students,” wrote Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the U.S. Senate’s education committee, in a July 2015 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.

Really? Two researchers took up the question and concluded the reality is more complex. In a policy brief, Sara Goldrick-Rab and David Monaghan, founding director of the Wisconsin HOPE Lab and a senior researcher at the lab, respectively, write that several factors complicate the picture.

Read the full article:


Why students missed out on $2.7 billion in financial aid last year

MarketWatch, January 28, 2016

High school graduates are passing up billions of dollars in free money to help them pay for college, a new analysis suggests.

By not filling out or completing the free application for federal student aid, or FAFSA, high school graduates lost out on as much as $2.7 billion in financial aid they wouldn’t have to pay back in the last academic year, according to a study published Wednesday by NerdWallet, a personal finance site. Researchers at the site came to that conclusion by estimating the number of high-school students who didn’t file the FAFSA who would also be eligible for Pell Grants, the free money the federal government gives to low- and moderate-income students.

Read the full article:


Study: Book prices slam community college students, February 5, 2016

Textbook prices have a disproportionate impact on community college students and are causing students to use financial aid dollars that could be used to reduce other college expenses, according to a study by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

Read the full article:


Strengthening Partnerships between Businesses and Community Colleges to Grow the Middle Class

U.S. Department of Education Press Release, February 5, 2016

Most first-time college students enroll in certificate or associate degree programs, indicating that the role of America’s more than 1,000 community colleges is more critical than ever. By offering students an affordable education and training close to home, community colleges may be the only option for some students who are raising children, working, in need of remedial classes, or can only take classes part-time. They are also uniquely positioned to partner with employers to create tailored training programs to meet economic needs within their communities.

That’s why the President proposed the America’s College Promise plan to make two years of community college free for responsible students, letting them earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree or earn skills needed in the workforce at no cost. Inspired by programs in Tennessee and Chicago, America’s College Promise would create a new partnership with states, and would require everyone to do their part: community colleges must strengthen their programs and increase the number of students who graduate, states must invest more in higher education and training, and students must take responsibility for their education, earn good grades, and stay on track to graduate. Today, the Administration is announcing a new plan to cut taxes on businesses willing to work with community colleges to create or expand quality programs in in-demand fields.

Read the full press release:


Degrees of Success: Colleges can save America–community colleges, that is

By Jack Kramer, Senior Vice President, Ellucian, February 6, 2016

Rising student debt. Rigid graduation requirements. Lack of preparation for the workforce. Higher education is under fire, and students are demanding answers. As fingers point at the institutions and government, bemoaning the state of higher education and searching for a scapegoat, one existing solution sits right in front of our noses: community colleges.

These two-year institutions are a valuable asset in the modern education system, but many are failing to see their true value. Ivy Leagues and major four-year public institutions get airtime and headlines, and remain the primary targets for higher education overhaul among most policy makers.

As a result, the conversation neglects to include community colleges. But these unsung heroes of higher education are actually Cinderella stories, and ones we should be paying much more attention to.

Read the full article:


New Report Addresses the Progress of Latino Students in Community Colleges

The Association of Community College Trustees and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, February 8, 2016

Today, the Association of Community College Trustees and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund released the report The Progress of Latinos in Higher Education: Strategies to Create Student Success Programs at Community Colleges. The paper profiles Latino community college students, including associate’s degree attainment rates, which are unsettling: only 23 percent of adult Latino students (25 and older) attain associate’s degrees, compared to 33 percent of black students, 46 of white students, and 59 percent of Asian students.

Read the report:


Seizing the Moment Community Colleges Collaborating with K-12 To Improve Student Success

With the national spotlight on community colleges, the sector has a unique opportunity to seize the moment and collaborate with K–12 to increase student success. Efforts to increase community college access and open doors to more students must include a complementary focus on improving readiness. Otherwise, remediation rates will remain unacceptably high, and our efforts to increase access may amount to an empty promise for many young people.

Read the report by the American Association of Community Colleges, the Association of Community College Trustees, Higher Ed for Higher Standards: