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EQUIP Program Loses Support

Almost half the participants of a program aimed to provide nontraditional providers access to federal financial aid have pulled their support. Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (“EQUIP”) sought to help nontraditional providers achieve high-quality standards and positive student outcomes, but the program is taking longer than expected to launch. As a result, three of initial eight pilot programs are no longer part of EQUIP. It is uncertain why EQUIP is taking so long to develop, but one study suggested that many participants were unsure about how the program’s success would be measured. More on the EQUIP program is available on InsideHigherEd.com.

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TEACH Grants Becoming Loans for Most Recipients

A Department of Education study has found that 63 percent of TEACH Grant recipients saw their grants become loans. Based on the report’s findings, teachers whose grants converted to loans failed to meet the program’s eligibility requirements due to being unqualified in a certain field or recertification paperwork issues. The report also discovered that some colleges use the grant to meet students’ financial aid needs rather than to achieve the program’s intended purpose. One key finding revealed that colleges are more likely to use TEACH Grants to make a degree more affordable instead of guiding graduates toward high-need fields at. Read More.

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Need for State-Funded Financial Aid Slows

In its latest survey, the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs (“NASSGAP”) revealed that growth in the use of state-funded student financial aid slowed in 2015-16. The total state-funded aid amount that year – $12.5 billion – is an increase of less than one percent from the previous year. The percentage is a big drop from what the NASSGAP measured from 2013-14 to 2014-15, when the year-over-year growth for state aid was around six percent. A stronger economy and demographic declines in various high-population states are being attributed to the small increase in aid. Learn more about the NASSGAP’s survey on the Inside Higher Ed website.

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The Election’s Impact on Higher Education

Now that the 2016 presidential election is over, many higher education experts are wondering how a new administration and Congress will affect colleges and universities. Liz Clark, the director of federal affairs at the National Association of College and University Business Officers (“NACUBO”), recently shared her thoughts on what legislation could be enacted. Some of Clark’s insights discussed who the next Secretary of Education could be, how NACUBO is preparing for proposed higher education changes, and whether there will be changes to student financial aid. More on Clark’s election observations is available on the NACUBO website.

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State-Funded Student Aid on the Rise

State funding for student financial aid jumped six percent during the 2014-15 academic year, per the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs’ (“NASSGAP”) latest survey. This year’s survey revealed that $12.4 billion in student aid was awarded by states in 2014-15. Other reported increases include rises in grant aid (up 5.7 percent; $10.5 billion) and non-grant aid (up seven percent; $1.9 billion). However, the breakdown between non-need-based (24 percent) and need-based (76 percent) grants remains the same from last year. A full recap of the NASSGAP survey is available on Inside Higher Ed.

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PLUS Loans in Financial Aid Packages

College admission counselors have raised concerns that some institutions are combining Federal PLUS Loans with other financial aid in students’ award packages. At last month’s National Association for College Admission Counseling (“NACAC”) meeting, financial aid professionals argued that including PLUS loans with award packages could make a family’s overall cost appear smaller. It may also mislead students into thinking they’re eligible for the loans, which are not guaranteed. A motion to exclude PLUS loans from an institution’s original financial aid letter was accepted last week, and will be presented to the NACAC’s Board of Directors in November. More on Federal PLUS Loans is available on Inside Higher Ed.

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