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Convict Education 101: College in Prison funded through Pell Grants

Aug 4, 2015

by Susan Dutca

Is it possible to educate and correct inmates through quality, legitimate prison education? Discussions of social and educational reform, particularly within more decrepit and under-resourced environments are commonplace - but what about when it comes to educating incarcerated individuals? According to the Washington Post, proponents such as Education Secretary Arne Duncan plan to assist those behind bars, particularly through Federal Pell Grants, which averages less than $6,000 a year per student. Through the new Second Chance Pell Pilot program, the goal is to have college and universities providing college-level courses in prions; in turn, inmates would be more educated which would lower prison recidivism rates, as well as community and social violence. It is not clear whether the investment would create a safer society or to what extent it would be effective, and considering its funding source – tax payer dollars - individuals such as U.S. Rep. Chris Collins argue it is a waste since the Pell Grant is a "limited pot of money needed to assist struggling middle-class families."

The Department of Justice estimated in 2013 that inmates taking educational courses in prison are 43 percent less likely to be re-incarcerated. Furthermore, four to five dollars in prison costs would be saved with every invested dollar. Unshackling the stagnant, 20-year ban on offering Pell grants to state and federal prisoners could come sooner than anticipated. While numbers have not been finalized, an estimated $30 billion a year would go into the pilot program. Only inmates eligible for release may qualify, and the program is expected to last three to five years. After all Duncan claims, "America is a nation of second chances." The question is, to whose and at what cost? In your opinion, should this be on the agenda for educational and penitentiary reform?

The Pell Grant, like all other grants, does not require repayment and is renewable annually. Based on your eligibility, you may qualify for the maximum amount of $5,775. While the new pilot program has not be implemented, take advantage of free money that you may be eligible for by conducting a quick and simple search at Scholarships.com.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Obama Modern Day Robin Hood? Steal from the Hardworking, Give to the Poor

Jul 10, 2015

by Chris Bernardi

Under the Obama administration, the motto “work hard, play harder” is continually being redefined to “work hard, pay harder”. According to The Wall Street Journal, a new plan is being finalized that will allow millions of low-income Americans to slash their monthly student-debt bills, in turn raising taxpayer costs for the government’s mushrooming student-loan portfolio. This week the Education Department proposed to expand eligibility for the Pay As You Earn program, which sets borrowers’ monthly payments as a small share of their income.

Education Department officials report that six million more Americans will become eligible this autumn for PAYE. The program caps monthly loan payments at 10 percent of discretionary income, defined as the amount above 150 percent of the poverty level. Well-paid graduates and those working minimum-wage jobs will be paying equivalent proportions of their income towards their student debt. While low-income borrowers who have incurred an unusually large federal debt reap the benefits of the revised program, a majority of college graduates and taxpayers will continue to suffer.

With a current outstanding student debt of $1.2 trillion, the White House continues to give people an economic incentive not to repay a loan. Because these loans are issued regardless of the borrower’s ability to repay, opponents of PAYE say the loans fund basic living expenses with tens of thousands of borrowers consuming aid even when they’re not enrolled for courses. Universities have also taken advantage of the flawed program, offering to pay student’s monthly bills under PAYE while simultaneously raising tuitions. The loans are turning into six-figure grants, debts the taxpayers incur.

Is the Obama Administration setting a double standard, promoting income equality, yet essentially paying young people not to pursue higher incomes? Is PAYE a program that allows those enrolled to take advantage of the system, while punishing those who work hard for their money?

Working after high school IS NOT getting you a financial jump on your college peers. You are instead creating self-inflicted wounds to your livelihood when you could be one of the six million new applicants prospering from Obama Hoods thievery. It makes absolutely no sense not to apply for financial aid with curriculums that allow you to maintain a job, programs that ease (or even lift) the burden of financial debt, and give you the opportunity to earn a degree to fulfill your childhood dreams! No individuals of any race, age, gender, or income class have an excuse to not get their degree, seeing expert assistance is as quick as completing your Scholarship.com profile.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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College President Bans School-Funded Travel to Indiana

Mar 31, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

In response to Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, San Francisco State University President Leslie E. Wong has banned all school-funded travel to the state.

The controversial legislation, which was signed into law by Republican Governor Mike Pence last week, is meant to protect religious liberty but many have expressed concern that the law will become a tool of discrimination and a way to allow businesses to turn away lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender customers. So far, seven institutions in the state – Ball State, Butler, DePauw, IU, Purdue, Valparaiso and Hanover – have issued statements promising to honor their nondiscrimination policies. On Monday, Wong weighed in by blocking employees and students from using SFUS funds to travel to Indiana, effective immediately. "I am dismayed, if not extremely disappointed, in the recent legislation signed into law in Indiana. It is unconscionable for this great university to spend its resources in a state that attempts to legislate discrimination of any kind," he said in a written statement. (For more on this story, head over to The Huffington Post.)

In the midst of this national debate, Governor Pence has said he would support new legislation to "clarify the intent of the law"...but is it too little, too late? What do you think of Indiana's new legislation? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Obama Hears Our Plea, Drops Proposal to Raise Taxes on 529 Savings Plans

Feb 3, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

After widespread criticism from both parties, the Obama administration decided to scrap its proposal to raise taxes on college savings accounts. Just last week, we blogged about President Obama's proposal to "roll back" tax benefits of 529 college savings plans and "repeal tax incentives going forward" for Coverdell Education Savings Accounts. Luckily, that's no longer the case.

According to The New York Times, the decision came just hours after Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio demanded the proposal be withdrawn from the president's budget, "for the sake of middle-class families." Interestingly enough, top Democrats, including Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority leader, pressed for the repeal. Administration officials initially defended the plan as an attempt to redirect tax benefits that they said largely benefit wealthy families toward tax credits that help poorer families. The administration will keep its plan to expand other higher education tax breaks, a White House official told The Times. (For more on this story, click here.)

What are your thoughts on the administration scrapping its proposal? Are you relieved? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And don’t forget to try and fund your education with as much free money as possible – a great place to start is by creating a free profile on Scholarships.com, where you’ll get matched with financial aid that is unique to you!

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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What Colleges Can Expect from Congress in 2015

Jan 21, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

With a new year comes a new Congress under new-ish management. Republicans will control the Senate for the first time in eight years, while the House of Representative will have its largest Republican majority in since 1928. But what does any of that have to do with higher education? Here are five predictions, courtesy of The Chronicle of Higher Education:

  1. Gridlock will continue. The gridlock and partisan warfare that we've seen in recent years will continue...and is likely to worsen as the 2016 election approaches. By the fall, the prospects for compromise on major legislation – education or otherwise – will be dim.
  2. Funding will remain tight. Budgets won’t change much, especially once the latest round of across-the-board spending cuts (known as the sequester) is applied. In that context, the most colleges will be able to hope for are modest increases for research and student aid; most programs will have to fight just to keep level funding. The Perkins student loan program, which is set to expire in September, will be particularly vulnerable. If government accountants conclude that continuing the program would cost taxpayers, lawmakers may abolish it.
  3. Colleges will have to compete for attention. Republicans have laid out several priorities for 2015, including overhauling President Obama's new healthcare system and approving the long-stalled Keystone XL pipeline. Renewal of the Higher Education Act – the main law governing federal student aid – is not among those priorities.
  4. Simplification will rule the day. In the Senate, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee has drafted legislation to shrink the FAFSA to the size of a postcard and to reduce the number of grant and loan programs. Meanwhile, House Republicans have offered a road map for reauthorization that calls for "one grant, one loan, and one work-study program" and just two loan-repayment programs.
  5. For-profit colleges will breathe a little easier. Republicans aren’t likely to single out the sector in the way Democrats have. Rather, they will seek to apply any accountability regimes to all colleges.

For more on their predictions, click here. Any you'd like to add? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And don't forget to create a free Scholarships.com profile for a list of scholarships that are personalized to you!

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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President Obama Proposes Free Community College

Jan 13, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

When considering the true cost of a college education, students must remember to factor in not only tuition but mandatory fees, room and board, books, supplies and living expenses. Unless, of course, you’re considering a community college: President Obama recently proposed free community college for all high school graduates for two years! Score!

The concept, according to administration officials, is not to target low-income students explicitly: Anyone will be provided the option of two years of tuition as long as they maintain a 2.5 GPA and attend school at least half-time. In effect, community college would be universal the way high school is. "Two years of college should be free and should be universal and should be of high quality for responsible students, just like high school is today," said Ted Mitchell, under secretary of education, the third-highest ranking official at the U.S. Department of Education. If the initiative is adopted nationally, officials estimate nine million people across the county could each save about $3,800 in college costs.

It's important to note that the President's proposal would involve the federal government and states combining to pay the entire cost of tuition for two years at a community college for any American who wanted it. And relying on taxpayers is where the program is likely to run into objections from Republicans in Congress: The administration estimates the program would cost about $6 billion a year. (For more on this story, click here.)

With the cost of a college education still on the rise, what do you think of President Obama’s proposal? Share your thoughts in the comments section. For more on the pros and cons of community college, head over to our College Prep section. And while you’re there, don’t forget to create a free Scholarships.com profile to help you fund your education.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Department of Defense Supplying College Campuses with Military-Grade Equipment

Sep 11, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Grenade Launcher? Check. M-16s? Check. Armored Vehicles? Check. No, this isn’t an artillery checklist for a high-ranking general but rather the stockpile that could be located on a college campus near you.

According to reports, at least 117 colleges have acquired equipment from the Department of Defense through a federal program that transfers military surplus to law enforcement agencies across the country. Through the 1033 program, participating colleges don’t have to buy the equipment but are responsible for the cost of delivery and maintenance. They are prohibited from reselling or leasing the gear and are required to provide updates on the location of tactical gear, like armored vehicles and weaponry. To date, at least 60 institutions have acquired M-16s through the program: Arizona State University has the most with 70 in its arsenal, followed by Florida International University and the University of Maryland with 50 M-16s each. (The University of Central Florida received a grenade launcher in 2008.) “What was once the unthinkable has become the inevitable,” said UCF’s chief of police Richard Beary. “These bad guys have plans and are heavily armed, and law enforcement needs to be able to keep up with them. In order to do that, police officers need to be highly trained, well equipped, and ready to respond to any scenario.” (For more on this story, click here.)

Participants in the program argue that it provides departments – particularly those with limited budgets like campus police forces – with necessary gear at very little cost. Meanwhile, detractors contend that the procurement of tactical gear doesn’t help with the types of crimes that occur more frequently on college campus, like alcohol-related incidents and sexual assault. What are your thoughts on having military-grade artillery on campus? Let us know in the comments section.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Professor Shoots Himself in the Foot...Literally

Sep 5, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

The ongoing debate to allow guns on college campuses took an awkward turn on Tuesday when a professor at Idaho State University accidentally shot himself in the foot.

The incident comes just two months after a bill was signed by Governor Butch Otter (R) allowing those with concealed carry permits to carry guns on state and college campuses. The bill – which made Idaho the seventh state to allow concealed guns on campuses – prohibits guns in dorms, arenas, stadiums or theaters. And while it is still unclear what cause the firearm to discharge, Lt. Paul Manning of the Pocatello Police Department told the Daily Beast the unnamed professor’s handgun was in the professor’s pants pocket and was not visible during class. The professor (who possesses an enhanced concealed carry permit) was treated for non-life threatening injuries and an investigation is currently underway to determine if he will be charged with a misdemeanor for discharging a firearm within city limits. “When they passed this law, it was bound to happen," ISU President Arthur Vailas told the Idaho State Journal; an opponent of the bill, he described the incident as "scary and embarrassing.” (For more on this story, click here.)

What are your thoughts on having concealed weapons on campus? Do you agree with gun advocates and the stance that more firearms would increase campus safety or do you think it would do the exact opposite? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Understanding Obama’s New Student Loan Plan

Aug 15, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

With the final month of summer rapidly slipping away, now is the time to buckle down and finalize how you're going to fund your college education. Whether that entails a full-ride scholarship (way to go!), an impressive financial aid package or even necessary loans, it's important to understand your options. Some of you might even be considering President Obama's Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan...if you can figure out what it involves or if it's even an option. If you're confused about this plan, you're in luck: U.S. News and World Report has broken down the big questions you need answered below:

  • Will these updates help me? If you have federal student loans, maybe. Starting in 2015, borrowers who took out loans before October 2007 or stopped borrowing by October 2011 will be eligible to take advantage of the Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan. Government officials estimate this includes an additional five million people.
  • How much could I save? Now, most federal loan borrowers are eligible for income-based repayment – a different repayment plan that has the same premise as Pay As You Earn. Unlike Pay As You Earn, however, IBR caps payments at 15 percent of one's disposable income and forgives the balance after 25 years of payments. Those differences could mean a lot, both in monthly payment amount and in the total amount paid over time.
  • Didn't the president mention loan refinancing too? He did, but in relation to a bill that Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced last month called the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act. This legislation would allow federal and private student loan borrowers with older, higher interest loans to consolidate them within the direct loan program at today's lower fixed interest rates. That bill still has to pass both the Senate and the House, something that may not happen because Republicans are opposed to paying for the bill with a gradual increase in tax rates for those in the higher income brackets.
  • What else should I know? There is still a long way to go before the president's executive action takes effect: December 2015 is the target implementation date. The overall plan includes quite a few other ideas that will make a difference to student loan borrowers, like improving financial incentives for federal student loan servicers to help borrowers stay out of default, making it easier for active-duty military to receive benefits and increasing communication partnerships with entities such as the IRS and tax companies to ensure consumers are aware of their higher education rights and benefits.

What do you think of the president's attempt to ease the financial burden associated with student loans? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section. And for more information on federal funding, visit our Financial Aid section.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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President Obama Uses Executive Action to Push Student Loan Forgiveness

Jun 20, 2014

by Scholarships.com Staff

President Barack Obama reportedly issued an executive action on Monday in an effort to alleviate student loan repayment problems for those with large post-college debt and salaries that make their loan payments unaffordable.

The executive order issued by the president, pushing through a program known as the Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan would cap loan payments at 10 percent of monthly income for the borrowers of federal direct loans. Federal law currently allows most students to do this already, but President Obama's order further extends this option to students who took out a federal direct student loan before October 2007 as well as those who haven’t borrowed since October of 2011. As many as 5 million more borrowers will reportedly be affected by this extension, which will begin in December of next year. You can determine eligibility by visiting the Federal Student Aid Repayment Estimator

Opponents of the executive order are concerned by the potential of students taking out enormous loans to attend expensive schools and majoring in subjects that are unlikely to prepare them for (or align them with) lucrative careers and the ability to repay the debt. This would result in taxpayers throughout the country bearing the burden of these loans, regardless of whether they or their children benefitted from a college education, let alone forgiveness of any of their debts.

For some, this is an opportunity to get out from under crushing debt, but at what cost? Where does the “forgiven” balance show up? Should the taxpayer at large shoulder this additional burden or should aspiring college students be seeking more affordable options for education and/or preparation for their professional lives?

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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