No Such Thing as a Free Lunch?

DC Shuttle …

Report Estimates States’ Costs for Free College. Eliminating tuition for all in-state undergraduates at public colleges would cost more than $1 billion in 15 different states, according to a report by Mark Schneider, vice president and institute fellow at the American Institute for Research and a former commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics. The report, which is based on IPEDS data, was commissioned by the Campaign for Free College Tuition. Those estimates are at the higher end of projected costs, according to the report. Hillary Clinton’s debt-free college proposal would only give free public tuition to families making up to $125,000. The Clinton campaign has said her plan would cost $350 billion over 10 years. Clinton and Bernie Sanders promoted debt-free college during a campaign in Durham, N.H.

Senator Calls for Ranking Changes. U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) wrote a letter calling for U.S. News and World Report to change its rankings methodology. Coons asked the publication to include measures of access and affordability. Brian Kelly, U.S. News & World Report’s editor and chief content officer, wrote Coons back a letter saying that U.S. News & World Report does take into account the percentage of undergraduates receiving Pell Grants.

U.S. Dept of Ed Awards $245 Million to Expand Charter Schools. The U.S. Department of Education announced that it was awarding new grants totaling approximately $245 million under its Charter Schools Program (CSP). Massachusetts could receive some of the funding, EdWeek reports.

Supreme Court to Take Case on Special Education Law. The U.S. Supreme Court said it would review a case concerning the level of education benefit a child must receive for a school district to have provided an appropriate level of service under the main federal special education law, EdWeek reports.

Warren Sends Letter on Student Debt. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the Education Department is being sued by a former student of Corinthian Colleges. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) wrote a letter to the Obama administration and U.S. Education Secretary John King, criticizing how it has handled debt relief for student loan borrowers who attended Corinthian Colleges, saying they have not been awarded their due relief.

Department of Education Report Shows Default Rates Decline. The U.S. Education Department announced that student loan default rates are continuing to decline. The department’s three-year federal student loan default rate fell half a percentage point, to 11.3%, for students who entered repayment in fiscal 2013. It marked the third straight year the default rate decreased. Nine for-profit colleges and one nonprofit school, however, could lose access to federal loans after large portions of their students defaulted during the last three years. Default rates at those schools either exceeded 40% or were higher than 30% for three straight years, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

FAFSA Changes. The Education Department is promoting two major changes coming to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process this year.  First, the 2017-18 FAFSA will be available to students and families earlier. Students can file on Oct. 1, 2016, rather than on Jan. 1, 2017.  Second, starting with the 2017-18 FAFSA, students will use previous income and tax information.

We publish the DC Shuttle each week featuring higher ed news from Washington collected by the New England Council, of which NEBHE is a member. This edition is drawn from the Higher Education Update in the Council’s Weekly Washington Report of Oct. 3, 2016. For more information, please visit:


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