Whether they were horror stories or hopeful situations, these financial aid news pieces topped national headlines this week.
1. Howard University Scandal
Yeah, this one obviously takes the cake. Unless your student body is crowding outside the financial aid office singing Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money,” I barely even wanna hear about it.
According to CNN, the details of an investigation revealed that “from 2007 to 2016, [Howard University] grants were given to some University employees who also received tuition remission…the combination of University grants and tuition remission exceeded the total cost of attendance. As a result, some individuals received inappropriate refunds.”
Yup — Howard employees were receiving grants to attend classes, but were also getting tuition remission. Long story short, they were earning more money than their education cost, and they were pocketing the difference.
This really sucks, because there are students and families who sacrifice a lot to attend Howard, even after financial aid. The money the employees were unfairly taking could have been given to a student who really needed it. Do better, Howard.
Scholly, a scholarship search tool, is starting a fund specifically for the Howard students affected by this scandal, so reparations are in the works.
2. TEACH “Grant” Controversy
So there’s this thing called a TEACH Grant, which the government has been giving out since 2008. It’s offered to people studying to get a college or master’s degree with the deal that they get to keep the grant money if they spend 4 years teaching a high-need subject like math or science in schools that serve low-income families. You have 8 years to hold up your end of the bargain, or that grant money gets converted into loans. Sounds pretty simple and fair, right?
Except here’s the thing: many teachers believe they upheld their end of the deal, but are being forced to repay the money anyway.
As reported by NPR, Maggie Webb, an eighth-grade math teacher in Massachusetts, says she sent in her annually required form confirming that she would meet the program’s requirements — and there’s documented proof. But the Education Department claims they never got it, and by the time she sent it in again, they said it was too late — and now, her $4,000 TEACH Grant is costing her $5,000. Conveniently, the interest is already tacked on.
Webb isn’t the only one suffering. Thousands of teachers are in the same boat, and they’re upset — which has caught the attention of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who is suing FedLoan about it. Other teachers like Webb are pursuing their own lawsuits against the Department of Education.
It’s not fair that they played by the rules, but are paying the price because the Ed Department decided to be sketchy. *side eye*
3. Ivies Take the Lead
As the costs of college attendance continue to steadily rise around the country, the Ivy Leagues schools stand out as allies for students. Penn’s Board of Trustees recently approved a 5.25% expansion of their financial aid budget (along with a 3.8 percent increase in cost of attendance).
Penn is following suit after its Ivy League competition has led the way in increasing the amount in the financial aid pool that’s available to its students.
Out of Penn, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, and Yale, Brown will have the largest increase in financial aid of all Ivy-League universities, with an 11 percent increase in financial aid funding. This amounts to $135.4 million in Brown’s financial aid bank.
Hopefully, these schools are realizing that their cost of attendance might be deterring the best and the brightest from enrolling because they can’t afford it.
People will do some crazy things to be able to afford higher education proactively or retroactively, but at Frank we believe that college should be more affordable to begin with. It would be awesome if other schools followed in the Ivies’ footsteps. Stay tuned.
Arnold, Chris and Turner, Cory. “Dept. of Education Fail: Teachers Lose Grants, Forced to Repay Thousands in Loans.” NPR Education. 28 March 2018. https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018/03/28/596162853/dept-of-education-fail-teachers-lose-grants-forced-to-repay-thousands-in-loans
Brocchetto, Marilia and Kiely, Liv. “Howard University students demand answers in financial aid scandal.” CNN. 30 March 2018. https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/29/us/protests-financial-aid-scandal-howard-university/index.html
Butterworth, Courtney. “Penn will raise financial aid by 5.3 percent. How does that compare to other Ivies?” The Daily Pennsylvanian. 1 April 2018. http://www.thedp.com/article/2018/04/financial-aid-tuition-ivy-league-upenn-penn-philadelphia