Sep 06, 2007
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Thursday, September 6 , 2007
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Study Finds More Preparation Needed for Transition from High School to College

By Surajit Sen Sharma

A recent study conducted by Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) found that the first semester of college is a pivotal period in students' academic careers. The study, titled "Beyond Access: How the First Semester Matters for Community College Students' Aspirations and Persistence," followed first-time students enrolled in California community colleges aged 17 to 20 in the fall of 1998. The study, based on system data gathered over a six-year period, tracked graduation and retention rates of first-year students to arrive at its findings. The findings of the study suggest that it is most important to focus on preparing high school students for college and that simply increasing college access doesn't solve the problems faced in building a more educated population and workforce.

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PHEAA Criticized for Excessive Spending on Executive Bonuses

By Amit Agarwal

Dick Willey, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), has received a $180,857 bonus on top of his salary of $289,118 per year. Three of Willey's vice presidents have been given bonuses worth $113,515, while a fourth received $52,436. Added together, the bonuses totaled more than $500,000.

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell stated, "Those bonuses, given the salaries those executives receive, are outrageous." A few lawmakers have also criticized the hefty bonuses paid to the agency leaders. The state's student financial aid agency had already been under pressure for months because of its prolific spending on board retreats and travel. Rendell, along with several lawmakers, thinks PHEAA should be privatized.

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Federal student loan organizations call for revision of student loan reconciliation bills

Four federal student loan organizations wrote a letter to Education Committee chairmen and ranking Republican members in both houses urging them to reconsider subsidy cuts proposed in upcoming student loan reconciliation bills and to abandon their plans for a pilot student loan auction. The Consumer Bankers Association, Education Finance Council, National Council of Higher Education Loan Programs, and Student Loan Servicing Alliance signed the letter, which states that if the current bills are signed into law, "[b]orrowers will likely lose many, and in some cases all, of the borrower benefits currently offered by lenders." The bills, which have passed through the U.S. House and Senate, propose cutting more than $17 billion in subsidies to lenders and guarantors participating in the FFEL Program.

Montana senator proposes free college tuition

Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) has proposed legislation that would offer full scholarships to all high school graduates planning to major in math, engineering, science, or technology in college. As part of a new $25 billion education incentives package, the legislation, according to Baucus, will make the United States more globally competitive, especially with China and India. The bill also includes assistance for rural teachers, scholarships for future math and science teachers, and additional funding for pre-kindergarten programs. Baucus's program would apply to all universities, but in order to be eligible, students would have to work or teach in a related field for at least four years after graduation.

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