Despite Rep. Virginia Foxx’s (R-N.C.) recent comments that “it’s not the role of Congress to make college affordable and accessible,” the goal of government financial aid systems is to ensure college is accessible and affordable for low-income students. Many states do this through state-based student aid programs. But how successful states are largely depends on their efforts to offer aid first to those who need it most. A new survey from the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs (NASSGAP) offers a portrait of what states are doing, or not doing, to address the inadequacies of need-based aid. Overall, states have increased total financial aid by 1.8 percent from $11 billion in 2010-11 to $11.1 billion in 2011-12 and increased need-based aid to undergraduate students by 6 percent, according to the 43rd Annual Survey Report on State-Sponsored Student Financial Aid. These overall numbers tell an inspiring story of states tackling the problem of inadequate need-based aid and shifting aid to the most vulnerable students. A look at states individually, however, reveals a more mixed story.
The true blow of sequestration to local school districts has yet to fully manifest, as cuts aren’t expected to trickle down to most districts until the next budget year. But the most vulnerable, including the 1,200 school districts that rely on funds from the federal Impact Aid program, have felt an immediate effect. A new survey by The National Association of Federally Impacted Schools reveals how 45 of these districts, 42 of which are American Indian land districts, have been forced to make tough decisions, ranging from cutting field trips and art programs to consolidating and closing schools.
School leadership matters when it comes to boosting student achievement. But in order to put a strong school leader in every school, districts have to self-grow their pool of effective principals and continue to evaluate and support them in schools. This is the Wallace Foundation’s “theory of change,” and in 2011, the foundation launched the Principal Pipeline Initiative, giving grants to six districts to take on the work of developing a cadre of strong principals. A new report outlines the districts’ progress in the first year of implementation.
WASHINGTON (July 10, 2013) — Today, a minority in the Senate succeeded in blocking legislation to reverse the doubling of interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans for students who need to borrow for college this fall. While a majority of senators voted to extend the 3.4% rate for one year, support fell short of the 60 votes needed to move forward with the legislation.
WASHINGTON (July 9, 2013) — Common Core standards have the potential to dramatically raise the rigor of instruction – and the level of achievement – in schools across the country. But these standards will also demand more of our students and teachers than ever before. While there is much work to be done in all states to lift all students to the college- and career-ready level, a new analysis shows that the stretch is far bigger in some states than in others.
In New York state, only 58 percent of black and Latino high school students graduate on time; an even smaller percentage heads to college. But at Elmont Memorial High School in Nassau County, N.Y., where 9 in 10 students are black or Latino, 97 percent of students graduate in four years and nearly all are college bound. Elmont is one of several schools featured in a new Education Trust report series, “Shattering Expectations,” which focuses on closing gaps at the high end of achievement. And in a June 18 webinar for state advocates, The Education Trust brought together report authors and Elmont principal John Capozzi to discuss how to link policy and practice on this issue.
WASHINGTON (July 1, 2013) — We are disappointed that Congress was unable to agree on a solution to keep interest rates on federally subsidized Stafford loans from doubling today. By failing to pass a plan to keep interest rates from increasing to 6.8 percent, Congress missed an important opportunity to limit college debt for the millions of students who receive subsidized Stafford loans every year, most of them low-income.
The Supreme Court’s decision on June 24 to send Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin back to the Fifth Circuit Court was a judicial win for affirmative action policies. In this 7-1 decision, the Court reaffirmed the precedent that pursuing diversity through a balanced admissions policy is a legitimate pursuit that justifies the consideration of race as one factor. This is good news because diversity on campus and in the classroom benefits all students — not just students of color.