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Getting a College Education Behind Bars

by Carly Gerber

Did you know Cornell University offers a program for inmates at Auburn Correctional Facility and Cayuga Correctional Facility to receive college educations?

The Cornell Prison Education Program (CPEP) began from the ideas and actions of English professor Winthrop “Pete” Wetherbee who, without funding, began teaching in the Auburn prison in the mid-1990s. By 1999, CPEP was offering Cornell credit for completed courses and in 2008, Cornell and Cayuga Community College (CCC) made an agreement which has Cornell waive tuition and fees, CPEP supply instructors and pay for books, school supplies and administration and CCC endow associate degrees. Plus, the CPEP is relatively low in cost – $1,800 per student – and has numerous benefits: Prison education appears to increase the safety of the prisons because the men and women are staying occupied, learning and building self-esteem.

The programs have been getting a positive reaction because other inmates want to join. Retired Cornell professor Richard Polenberg taught a constitutional history course at Auburn Correctional Facility and had said, “These men are extraordinary” and “They are very, very well behaved in the classroom and they ask really good questions.” Government and American Studies professor Mary Katzenstein explains, “Ninety-five percent of men and women in prison are released to society. Do we want people returning who have learned only to hone tricks of the trade, or do we want people coming back to our neighborhoods who have had a chance to learn the kind of analytical skills and be exposed to the ethical values that a liberal arts education is able to impart?”

With the low cost and many benefits of the CPEP, I think all correctional facilities should have a program like it and more colleges should follow Cornell's lead. What are your thoughts about the CPEP?

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Cooper Union to Charge Undergraduate Tuition in 2014

by Suada Kolovic

It’s official: After 18 months of intense analysis and serious opposition (we’re looking at you, students who barricaded themselves in the college last December), Cooper Union will begin charging undergraduate tuition for the first time.

Faced with a $12 million annual budget deficit, the Board of Trustees voted last week to reduce the full-tuition scholarship to 50-percent for all undergraduates admitted to the institution beginning with the class entering in the fall of 2014. “The time has come to set our institution on a path that will enable it to survive and thrive well into the future,” said board chairman Mark Epstein in an announcement to students and faculty members in the college’s Great Hall. “Under the new policy, the Cooper Union will continue to adhere to the vision of Peter Cooper, who founded the institution specifically to provide a quality education to those who might not otherwise be able to afford it.” None of the 900 current undergraduates would be affected but those considering enrolling in the fall of 2014 and beyond could pay $19,275 a semester.

After the speech, opponents of the decision gathered outside the Great Hall and staged what they called a walkout, arguing that any tuition would alter the essential character of the prestigious school. What do you think of the announcement and the corresponding criticism? Let us know in the comments section.


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The Scoop on Campus Publications

by Katlyn Clark

As a person who writes for her college’s newspaper, I know that there are people who support its mission and those who couldn’t care less. According to a recent Inside Higher Ed article, the latter is becoming more prevalent, as college newspapers are requesting new student media fees to provide printed papers or going digital just to survive.

It's sad that some colleges struggle with getting a paper printed while having to use the students’ money to keep it running. At Campbell, there was one time that we were not able to print our paper because we did not have the necessary funds. The result? The campus did not take much notice when we missed our usual print day and I regularly encounter full paper bins when I go to put new issues in them. Like many colleges, Campbell supplements its print edition with an online presence; though I personally like to thumb through a printed copy, it's neat to be able to read it online anywhere using a tablet or smartphone.

College students may think their school newspapers have no influence but they can. They keep students informed of campus issues ranging from serious topics like tuition increases and crime to more lighthearted subjects. (For example, I cover on-campus events and write reviews for the entertainment section.) You may not believe it but your campus would be much different if student publications ceased to exist! My recommendation would be to pick up your school paper and take a look with fresh eyes – you may be surprised at what you find.

How important is campus media to you? Inside Higher Ed reports that in most cases, students have agreed to small fee increases to help their publications survive. Would you do the same? What else can campus publications do to fund their operations?

Katlyn Clark is a freshman at Campbell University majoring in journalism and minoring in marketing. She hopes to become a broadcast journalist for entertainment or write for a magazine such as People or Seventeen. In her spare time, Katlyn loves to hang out with friends and family and watch sports; she is a Christian who is so thankful for God’s many blessings in her life. Katlyn is from Elizabeth City, North Carolina and loves Tim Tebow, Pinterest, the WWE and cats.


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FAFSA to Recognize Same-Sex and Unmarried Parents by 2014

by Suada Kolovic

The Department of Education has recently announced that the FAFSA will soon undergo a few changes to accommodate students with same-sex or unmarried parents who cohabit in order to more accurately ascertain an applicant’s financial situation.

The forms, which will be introduced for the 2014-15 school year, will allow students to designate their parents as “Parent 1 (father/mother/stepparent)” and “Parent 2 (father/mother/stepparent)” rather than just mother and father. “All students should be able to apply for federal student aid within a system that incorporates their unique family dynamics," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "These changes will allow us to more precisely calculate federal student aid eligibility based on what a student's whole family is able to contribute and ensure taxpayer dollars are better targeted toward those students who have the most need, as well as provide an inclusive form that reflects the diversity of American families."

The department has said that the changes will not impact a vast majority of applicants but it could potentially (read: very likely) translate into reduced aid for students with same-sex or unmarried parents. Why? Those parents who do not benefit from filing joint tax returns will likely disqualify their children from financial aid if it’s found that jointly they are above the income threshold. So while the changes are considered progressive, they’re just slightly off the mark when it comes to helping “unique family dynamics.”


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California Universities Instate College Graduation Fees

by Suada Kolovic

In the coming weeks, college seniors across the country will take their first steps towards new beginnings with their diplomas in hand…that is, of course, if they pay the recently instated college graduation fees.

According to a recent report, more than half the schools in the California State University system are charging a graduation fee that students are required to pay before receiving their diplomas. While the fees aren’t astronomical (they range from $45 to $115), students are frustrated with a struggling school system that has increased tuition every year and are only now discovering that their diplomas weren’t included in the tuition hikes. "We already have to pay to be here and [now] we've got to pay to leave," California State East Bay sociology major Donnisha Udookon told the Tribune. Students who have long complained about the extra charges agree that by the time they reach graduation, they almost come to expect an add-on fee at every turn. To them, graduation no longer signifies a moment filled with a sense of incredible accomplishment but as the last chance for the institution to nickel-and-dime the graduating student body. (Fine print: Student loans not included.)

Recent college graduates, do you think it’s fair for schools to charge a separate fee for students to receive their diplomas? What’s your school’s stance on graduation fees?


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Study: College Pays, Even for College Dropouts

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a high school student, chances are you’ve probably heard this at some point in your high school career: “College graduates will earn $1 million more in a lifetime than those with only a high school diploma.” And while completing your college education is the ultimate goal, students who get at least a partial college education will earn on average more than $100,000 over a lifetime than those with just high school diplomas.

According to a study conducted by The Hamilton Project, a Washington, D.C. think tank, even small increments of additional education pays off: The annual return on a partial education is 9.1 percent and while that’s well below the annual return of 15 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree, it is considerably more than high school graduates with no college education. "It is vastly better to get a college degree," said Adam Looney, policy director at The Hamilton Project. "But I think the evidence says that fears of dropping out, that there are big downside risks to trying it and not finishing it, I think those are overblown. For people who are interested in college, who have ambitions of going and have the ability and qualifications to succeed, I think the evidence suggests it's an extremely good deal right now." (For more on this study, click here.)

Recent high school graduates, do you agree with the study’s findings that investing in some college education is better than none? Let us know in the comments section.


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Top Universities Where Most Students Live on Campus

by Suada Kolovic

With summer break in full swing for most high school graduates, navigating the long, challenging road that is obtaining a college degree won’t begin until late August. And while your calendar is already chock-full with summer fun, consider this: The country is facing a shortage of on-campus student housing at public and private schools. So perhaps between attending that beach party, block party and annual beach block party, it’s essential that you figure out where you’re going to live this fall.

According to the National Multi Housing Council, areas with the highest campus housing shortages include Arizona, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota and West Virginia. But despite the shortage, some universities are still housing a majority of their students on campus. Check out the top 10 national universities with the highest percentage of undergraduates living in campus housing (as of Fall 2011):


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