Federal Policy & Reform
Topics on the table: The issue of liability waivers, an at-risk faculty, the costs of implementing social distancing measures, and the necessity and economic pressure to have in-person classes.
EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat.
This multi-day conference is designed to give participants the skills, understanding, and inspiration to improve their coverage of education at all levels. It also will deliver a lengthy list of story ideas. We will offer numerous sessions on important education issues, as well as on journalism skills.
After $14 billion was set aside for higher education in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, Houston Community College and the Paul Mitchell Schools both got financial relief.
The Houston college, a public institution with nearly 60,000 students, received $28.3 million. The for-profit hair and cosmetology schools received $30.5 million, despite serving only 20,000 students.
The CARES Act money was meant to help low-income students and the schools that serve them.
College dorms are closed. Athletic events are canceled. Classes have moved online. Like so many sectors of the U.S. economy, higher education is taking a hit from the coronavirus pandemic. In March, Congress set aside more than $14 billion to help colleges and universities weather the outbreak. Here’s where most of that money has gone and why many colleges are holding out for more:
Live Hearings And Cross Examinations: How Texas Universities Will Adjust to New Sexual Misconduct Policies
A new set of regulations from the U.S. Department of Education will change how colleges and universities handle sexual misconduct. For some Texas schools, the changes will be harder to adjust to than others.
The federal regulations, released May 6, are the result of about three years of efforts by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to rescind Obama-era practices and implement new standards for addressing sexual misconduct on college campuses under Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination.
When the novel coronavirus forced colleges and universities to abruptly send students and faculty home for the semester, vulnerable students scrambled to continue their studies amid financial stress, and schools reeled from housing refunds and other lost revenue.
Enter Congress with a $14 billion lifeline.
Schools, anticipating a deepening economic crisis, had lobbied for more, but they still welcomed the support. And they hoped for swift and clear guidance from the Education Department, which Congress tasked with dispensing funding as quickly as possible.
While emergency grants for colleges and their students from the CARES Act have gotten much attention in the past few weeks, that funding isn’t the only stream of new federal money headed for higher education.
The U.S. Department of Education also is planning to distribute $127.5 million as part of its Reimagining Workforce Preparation grant program. But the department so far has released scant information about what sort of programs the grants should be used to fund, and through what sort of institutions.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday issued final rules for how public and private schools and colleges must address allegations of sexual misconduct, locking in protections for accused students and faculty but tempering earlier proposals that critics said would harm victims of assault and harassment.
Colleges Are Handing Out Billions in Coronavirus Stimulus Funding to Students. Can They Do It Fairly?
One week after the federal government announced it was “immediately” distributing more than $6 billion for colleges to disburse to their students, administrators are wrestling with how to quickly identify the students who need help the most without leaving anyone behind.
When Congress set aside about $14 billion specifically for higher education in the stimulus bill it passed two weeks ago, lawmakers had the well-intentioned goal of most of the money going to colleges and universities that serve larger shares of lower-income students.
But lawmakers also didn’t want to penalize large institutions that don’t enroll as many lower-income students.
Read the full story here.
WASHINGTON — Borrowers with federal student loans will be able to pause their payments for two months without interest accruing, President Donald Trump and the Education Department said Friday.
The move is an effort to help those financially affected by the spread of the coronavirus. Trump had announced last week the government would waive interest on federally held loans last week, but few details had been available. The suspension will be in effect for at least 60 days, and it started on March 13.
The U.S. Department of Education has moved to ease rules on colleges and universities looking to shift their classes onto the internet, as closures of campuses cascaded with the hastening spread of the coronavirus.
With fears growing in higher education, the department has granted what it said was “broad approval” to schools seeking relief from federal standards as they activated “distance learning” programs that still must comply with higher education laws.
Higher Education in 2020
Looming Supreme Court decision on DACA, new rules for college admissions, lead Associated Press’ reporter’s list
(EWA Radio: Episode 226)
While it’s a new calendar year, plenty of familiar issues are carrying over from 2019 on the higher education beat, says reporter Collin Binkley of The Associated Press. Many of the biggest headline-grabbers this year are likely to center on admissions – the process of deciding who gets into what college. To settle a federal anti-trust case, colleges recently scrapped old rules that limited what they could do to compete for applicants. Now, a potential admissions marketing free-for-all will create new winners and losers. The Trump Administration’s policies against immigration, and tensions with countries such as Iran can’t help but impact foreign students interested in studying in the U.S. And the growing trend by colleges to drop application requirements for ACT and SAT test scores could also mean big changes to college access.
Teachers Fight for Student Loan Debt Relief
NPR investigation finds thousands of borrowers wrongly denied federal forgiveness
(EWA Radio: Episode 217)
Two federal programs intended to steer college students toward public service jobs like teaching in high-poverty schools instead became mired in missteps, as recipients found their grants wrongly converted into high-interest loans. Cory Turner of NPR’s education team spent 18 months looking at problems with the TEACH Grant program.
The push for free college is a recognition that the most well-traveled economic path to good jobs and the middle class requires at least some college for the vast majority of young Americans. It is also a response to the reality that many students and their families are taking on large amounts of debt to finance increasingly pricey postsecondary educations.
If DACA Ends, What Happens to Students and Schools?
Final decision pending after U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on program for undocumented children
(EWA Radio: Episode 138)
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case challenging President Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). The program has temporarily protected some 800,000 immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children from being deported. While a key focus is college-age students who fear deportation, ending DACA has significant repercussions for the K-12 school community as well. In this 2017 episode of EWA Radio, soon after Trump announced his plans to unwind DACA, Corey Mitchell of Education Week and Katie Mangan of The Chronicle of Higher Education discussed the potential implications.
Many Political Battles Over Higher Education Boil Down to Money
Partisans dispute how, how much, or even whether, taxpayers should support colleges
The political fault lines of higher education extend far beyond headline-grabbing student protests and furor over controversial speakers.
In fact, that sound and fury often distracts from a more practical political issue facing higher education today: How should Americans pay for college? Should students themselves bear the full costs of their education or should taxpayers help keep costs low? And if so, how should the burden be apportioned between state and federal taxes?
Colleges Struggle to Adapt to Changing Demographics
More diverse student body poses challenges in admissions, teaching and counseling
Quick: Picture a “typical” college student. Are you envisioning a young person wearing a college sweatshirt, living in a dorm and attending school full time?
Try again: Full-time students who live on campus account for less than 15 percent of all undergraduates, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
At a recent Education Writers Association seminar, three experts on student demographics suggested that investigations into changes to the makeup of the nation’s undergraduate student body can spark fresh and impactful stories.
No Forgiveness: Teachers Struggle With Unfair Student Loan Debt
Two federal programs under scrutiny, as thousands of borrowers caught in administrative missteps
(EWA Radio: Episode 217)
Two federal programs that were supposed to steer college students to public service jobs like teaching in high-poverty schools instead became mired in missteps, as the recipients unexpectedly found their grants wrongly converted into high-interest loans. Cory Turner of NPR’s education team spent 18 months looking at problems with the TEACH Grant program, and his findings helped spur the U.S. Department of Education to reverse course.
The Trump administration’s new plan to make it harder for immigrants receiving public benefits to receive green cards could have sweeping implications for students and schools.
The Education Writers Association presented this webinar to help reporters with story ideas and provide resources for covering the educational impact of the recently announced ”public charge” rule.