Aug 24, 2006
EdFed News Wire

America's Top Student Loan Consolidator
Thursday, August 24 , 2006
Dept. Of Education Moves Quickly
By Judith Earley
Last week, the Department of Education (ED) announced that it will establish up to four negotiated rulemaking (Neg Reg) committees to determine what regulated changes can be made in an effort to incorporate recommendations made by the Secretary's Commission on the Future of Higher Education. The Commission intends to release its final report by mid-September, having voted and approved the third draft report earlier this month. This is according to a report published by Higher Education Washington, Inc.

The negotiated rulemaking process will also develop proposed regulations for the new Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) and the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grant. One of the four committees will address issues related to the federal student loan programs authorized by Title IV—Parts B, D, and E—of the HEA. In 1994, the ED was required by Congress to use Neg Reg on two specific issues: schoolwide programs and standards and assessment.

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NCSL Anticipates Increased Funding
By Amy Wong

Nashville - The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has released its State Budget and Tax Actions 2006: Preliminary Report.

The survey, which was released Aug. 15 and compiles information on members of the National Association of Legislative Fiscal Offices (NALFO), reflects budget data from 49 states and tax data from 44 states during the fiscal years 2006 and 2007.

Research shows a major surge in revenue, which will either be distributed to various state programs or saved for future use. NCSL Executive Director William Pound said in a press release, "State legislators are taking advantage of today's strong revenue growth. They're using it to fund one-time expenses, and they're shoring up reserves."

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NBER reports on diminishing financial aid

The National Bureau of Economic Research released a research paper commenting that the reduction in state funding for higher education can cripple students' future and thus be harmful to economic growth. "Cohort Crowding: How Resources Affect Collegiate Attainment" outlines how college enrolment is affected by factors including financial feasibility of a college education and the availability of financial aid. With the increase in demand for college education and the fluctuating supply of federal financial aid, the percentage of students successfully attaining college degrees is bound to decrease along with the quality of the final product. The report states: "The impending collision of large cohorts and limited public resources in higher education is not just a predicament for colleges and universities, but a potential crisis in economic growth for decades to come if the flow of college-educated workers to the labor force is further curtailed." John Bound, the leading author of the report, suggests that a 10-percent rise in the college-age population in a state leads to a 4-percent decline in the number of students earning Bachelor of Arts degrees.
$18 million in grants to "Gear up Idaho"

The state of Idaho has been bestowed with $18 million in federal grants to help students from low-income families with scholarships and academic counseling for higher education. To begin this academic year, the "Gear up Idaho" grant will help school students better prepare for college. The program is open to schools in which 50 percent of their students qualify for free or reduced lunches; these schools can become "Gear up Schools." Around 90 middle and high schools in the state are eligible for the funding. The program includes up to $16,000 four-year, renewable college scholarships for more than 600 students of the qualifying schools, along with computers for some students. The selection for the scholarships is based on financial need and academic promise. Nearly half the funding is expected to be towards the scholarships. The state's education department has lauded this move, which it expects will help a number of Idaho students who cannot afford higher education.

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