States should receive more federal funds if they increase funding to …

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The federal government should create a matching grant program to reward states that maintain and increase their funding for public colleges, by linking the maximum Pell Grant awarded to students in states to per-student funding of higher education, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities argues in a new report, according to Inside Higher Ed.

The paper documents the decline in states’ funding per full-time equivalent college student since 2000 and the role that trend has played in driving up tuition prices and student debt.

Ohio’s fiscal support for higher education declined 10.9 percent in the last five fiscal years, according to a compilation of state fiscal support by Grapevine. But state support has had modest increases in recent years.

Ohio provides about 30 percent of the funding for state universities.

The report asserts that the federal government can influence state behavior, citing the maintenance of effort provisions that were inserted into the federal stimulus legislation (and other measures) that provided funds to states that kept their own spending on higher education above certain thresholds.

Those efforts have not gone far enough, though, AASCU argues, by rewarding states that at least maintained their spending no matter whether their levels were high or low. 

“A new model is needed that acknowledges existing levels of per-student state support for public higher education and that strategically leverages federal dollars to incentivize additional state investment,” the report says.

The association calls for a matching grant program of up to $15 billion a year, with grants to states based on how much money they provide per student compared to the Pell Grant maximum award.

A state’s Pell Grant funding would be cut if it reduced its spending on public university operating support.

AASCU suggests that funds for the program could be derived from “better gatekeeping of institutional eligibility to participate in federal student aid programs (particularly for for-profit colleges), and “risk sharing” for federal student loans.

Hiram College students prepare for day of service: Hiram College students will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday by participating in a day of service with the Boys Girls Clubs of Cleveland.

The focus of the program will be storytelling: Hiram College students will interact with the Boys Girls club members over the age of 13, telling individual stories about persisting through high school and getting to college.

“They’ll be telling candid stories about getting through,” said Detra West, associate dean of students and director of diversity and inclusion, in a news release. “Some have had incredible challenges.”

Boys Girls Clubs of America offer after-school support programs in study and life skills.  The organization’s mission is “to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”

Normally, Hiram College hosts a speaker for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but West said as students were planning for the event, they decided they wanted to do something active. They were struck by the statistic that 7,200 students drop out of high school each day, according to a national Diplomas Count 2010 report in “Education Week.”

In 1994, Congress designated Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a national day of service, as a “way to transform Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and teachings into community action that helps solve social problems,” according to the Day of Service website.

The work Hiram College students are engaging in does just that, West said, because education is the foundation to getting out of poverty, something King focused on at the end of his life. 

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