Are Community Colleges the Future of Higher Ed?

By Jason Beideman

This article highlighted what may be the future of higher education in this country, four year community college degrees. Most states already allow community colleges to give four year degrees which helps lower the cost to acquire a bachelors degree. The article also discussed the need to make transferring from community colleges to four year schools much easier. I think both of these initiatives are necessary for the United States to keep up with the rest of the world in education. On top of offering four year degrees, community colleges are using connections with four year universities to ensure their credits will transfer and allow the students to finish their degrees on time. Montgomery county community college in PA has deal with Temple University and other local colleges to ensure that they will accept their classes as credits. Furthermore, all of Pennsylvania’s community colleges made a deal with Southern New Hampshire University that allows students to transfer up to ninety credits and receive a ten percent discount. This is just how states that don’t allow community colleges to give four year degrees adapt to give their students a cheaper path towards their goals. I look forward to seeing how this progresses and if community colleges are the future of higher education in America.

How Multiple Kids in College Affects Financial Aid

By Lauren Prokesch

A U.S. News and World Report article states that in 2023-2024, families with multiple kids in college will not be allowed to apply for discounts due to the FAFSA Simplification Act of 2020. FAFSA could cause costs to double for families that are sending two children to college simultaneously. Families filling out the FAFSA starting October 1, 2022 will still see questions about number of kids in college, but now that will have no influence in determining how much aid a student is eligible for. Out-of-pocket costs for families will be the same for each child after financial aid is taken into account, rather than a previous discount for multiples like twins and triplets. Families were given the unhelpful advice to save more money, take out loans, and send their children to cheaper colleges where their kid’s grades will stand out and increase scholarship possibilities. This puts many middle-class families at risk, as tuition rates go up each year, and due to this act, anticipated aid will go down.

The FAFSA Simplification Act is also replacing the EFC with the SAI (student aid index), which will most likely not affect low-income families. If families already have a zero EFC, they qualify for a Pell Grant of the maximum amount, so it doesn’t matter how many children they have, they will still be eligible. This act also increases the allowance for income protection, which will benefit the lower class because more of their income can be excluded when considering financial aid amounts.

Title IX?

by Catherine Vincent

Should the Biden Administration change the regulations in Title IX created by Beaty DeVos concerning the due process of student accused of rape? Tile IX is a law created in 1972 that prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded schools, this law since its creation has been interpreted in different ways by each administration. During the Obama-era guidance to colleges and universities was critiqued as being to hard on students and faculty that were accused of sexual misconduct or rape and included aggressive investigations of schools that had mishandled complaints about sexual assault. Trumps administration tried to narrow the definition of what constitutes as sexual misconduct and created a process that cements the due process rights of those accused. Rape and other forms of sexual misconduct I feel should be treated with speed and efficiency and at many higher level institutions it is not. Usually schools try to push it under the rug or not even address it at all and as a female student it is very concerning that your school is not able protect you or assist you in prosecuting your aggressor. Something in the article that stood out to me was said by Ms.Klein the former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton “The policy of this administration is that every individual, every student, is entitled to a free — a fair education free of sexual violence, and that people — all involved — have access to a fair process,” this statement is what every school should have in their mission statement because the protection of students is the most important thing that a school can do.

College Students & SNAP

by Declan Barrett

A new article discusses the benefits that would be applied to college students by widening the requirements to join SNAP – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. This program helps those in need by supplying them with food stamps, which can be used as money to buy food. With the pandemic currently, many college students have had their job hours reduced, or the job closed all together, as colleges and surrounding areas adjust to a new environment.

The one catch this expansion would have would mean that any student with an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) greater than $0 would not be enrolled in this program. As many college students know, the EFC is a ridiculous value that assumes a familial contribution to college expenses, and that assumption fails to realize that not all families follow this. This article does not highlight that, but it can raise the question if entering college is actually now more desirable because of additional snap benefits – or if this really will benefit students because those with families that can (but don’t) get their EFC are ignored by this prospect.

FAFSA Audits and Minority Students

By Kaitlyn Perry

An analysis by the Washington Post found the federal government audits the FAFSA data of minority students much more often than they audit white students’ data. The FAFSA is, of course, the application college students must fill out every year in order to receive any type of aid from the federal government, and it is often required to be eligible for scholarships as well. Millions of students complete the FAFSA, and every year a percentage of those applications are chosen by the Department of Education for verification. The process is meant to reduce fraud and ensure the proper funds are being allocated. However, in the analysis of federal data, they found that there were certain demographics the verification process targeted. The government says it targets applicants that have the highest probability of producing errors on their application. Students who are eligible for Pell grants or have an EFC of $0 were also targeted more often than those with a higher family income. As a result of racial disparities in wealth and income, these targets are more often than not, Black and Latino students. This has resulted in mass amounts of stress in students who have to continuously prove to the federal government that they do in fact need the aid they are applying for, all while trying to keep up with the demands of college classes. It is yet another example of the systemic racism in the education system, specifically in higher education.