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Should College Students to Be Able to Pay Their Way Off Wait Lists?

With wait lists thousands of students deep, California's community colleges say they'll add more class sections if students pay full price.

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Community College Students Need Federal Loans, Too

Over one million community college students in 31 states can't borrow federal student loans. What gives with this unequal practice?


With the rising cost of college, paying tuition bills is a challenge for everybody these days. But students attending two-year community colleges have a much tougher time footing the bill than many of their peers attending four-year schools. According to the latest report from the Project on Student Debt, over one million students in 31 states attend community colleges that deny them the chance to borrow from federal student loan programs. This inequality forces community college students to pay for school via riskier and more expensive options, like private student loans and credit cards.

Federal loans are preferable to private loans because of their fixed interest rates, flexible repayment plans, and consumer protections. Community colleges are less expensive than four year schools, but cash strapped students unable to borrow part of the cost of tuition, books, and supplies often end up working longer hours, taking fewer classes, or dropping out of school entirely. Campus financial aid administrators justify their decision to opt out of offering federal loans by saying the predominantly low-income students of color attending community colleges—black and Native American students are most affected—might be prone to default.

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Obama's Education Budget Is on the Right Track. Too Bad Congress Won't Approve It

Obama's new budget proposes spending where it matters most: PELL grants, teacher training, and science and math education. If only it could pass.


President Obama unveiled his entire fiscal year 2012 budget yesterday at Parkville Middle School and Center of Technology in Baltimore, Maryland, and his proposed $77.4 billion in education spending—a 4 percent increase from 2010, the most recent budget enacted—bucks the national trend of defunding education. It's not a perfect budget, but Obama's committing to spending where it matters most: PELL grants, teacher and principal recruitment and training, and science, technology, engineering and math education.

In a post-budget-reveal conference call with reporters, Education Secretary Arne Duncan acknowledged that announcing the budget in a technology school was deliberate and reflects the laser-like focus the Obama Administration has on STEM education. Duncan said a big part of increasing the number of STEM educators nationwide will depend on funding the development of alternative certification programs that will make it easier for qualified professionals to head into the classroom. He also hopes to incentivize excellence in teaching by awarding grants to high performing STEM teachers.

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