Sep 27, 2007
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Thursday, September 27 , 2007
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Bill May Increase Federal Financial Aid

By Gitanjali Hazarika

Bill May Increase Federal Financial Aid
Legislators from Wisconsin are hoping that President Bush will sign a bill to decrease student loan interest rates and increase student grant eligibility this week.

If passed, this piece of legislation, the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007 (H.R. 2669), will provide the single largest investment in higher education since the 1944 GI Bill. If the bill is signed into law, nearly 70,000 Wisconsin college students will benefit from a boost to their share of federal financial aid. Almost 68,000 of the 76,000 Wisconsin students who take out loans to attend college each year receive Pell Grants.

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Members of Congress Propose Changes to No Child Left Behind Act

By Gitanjali Hazarika

Congress is debating the reauthorization of the landmark No Child Left Behind Act, which is due to expire this year. The controversial law forced strict new standards on public schools aimed at preventing them from covering up or ignoring low achievement rates. It required all districts to meet similar standards regardless of their proportions of poor, minority, or special-needs students.

The Congressional debates have centered on how the act can be improved to better assess student achievements and weaknesses. A few senators, like Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), want to "fix one of the law's more glaring problems" so that it retains its most critical accountability provisions. However, others argue that the law harms at-risk students by paying little attention to their needs.

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Carson to introduce bill targeting textbook costs

Publishers and universities will be required to disclose their hidden textbook costs if Rep. Julia Carson (D-IN) has her way. Carson is expected to table a bill shortly that will create "an open discourse on the costs of higher education and eventually ensure that students will be able to access affordable study materials." The escalating costs of textbooks are making acquiring a college education difficult for many students, says a report published by the Government Accountability Office. The average price students at four-year institutions have to pay for their textbooks—approximately $898—is calculated to be equal to almost 27% of their tuition costs. Rep. Carson said the problem intensifies at two-year institutions, where the average cost of textbooks equals almost 72% of students' total tuition costs.

Stanford develops International Outreach Program

A new International Outreach Program (IOP) at Stanford University headed by Reinhold Steinbeck is reinventing methods for helping students learn. In a joint effort by Stanford University and several African and Latin American universities, researchers are looking for new ways to prepare "students for work in the borderless world of the future." The IOP, which is based at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), is supporting the pilot project under the guidance of political science professor Coit Blacker. Professor Blacker said the project aims at "expanding Stanford's outreach efforts into other regions with new interdisciplinary content and innovative approaches to learning and teaching."

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