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Removing home equity from the formula that determines Pell Grant eligibility and the size of the grant would most benefit students whose parents' home equity is the greatest, according to a study by the American College Testing Program.

Students whose parents' home equity is $73,174 or greater are not now eligible for Pell Grants. But under a provision of the House omnibus education bill that would eliminate home equity from the needs-analysis calculation, they would become eligible, according to the study.

Pell recipients whose parents' average home equity is $43,809 would see their chances of getting a loan improve, the study said. Nearly 92 percent of Pell recipients, whose parents' equity averages $10,879, would not benefit from the proposal, according to the study.

The study said grant recipients who would be newly eligible under the formula are also members of families with higher incomes than those who are not affected.

"In the absence of increased funding, [home equity's] exclusion from the Pell Grant and need- analysis formulas will merely cause a redistribution of funds," the study said.

The Senate eliminated home equity from the grant calculation for families earning less than $30,000. House and Senate conferees will likely compromise on the home-equity standard when the Congress votes on its omnibus education bill.

The study is based on a random sample of 13,221 dependent undergraduates who filed for financial aid using ACT's Family Financial Statement for 1989-90.

Copies of the study are available from ACT Call Mark Heffron at (319) 337-1379 or Tom Mortenson at (319) 337-1468.

Nearly one-half of the nation's colleges and universities say they have received fewer freshman applications for this academic year, according to a report by the National Association of College Admission Counselors.

Of 683 colleges and universities, 47 percent reported receiving fewer applications for 1990-91 than for 1989-90. The previous year, 27 percent of the schools said they had fewer applicants.

Forty-one percent of the schools responding to the survey reported an increase in applications, compared with 59 percent last school year. Schools reporting an increase in minority applications dropped 7 percent from the previous year, to 46 percent.

More information on the survey can be obtained from the NACAC, 1800 Diagonal Drive, Suite 430, Alexandria, Va. 22314.

States should include private institutions when they make decisions about higher education. That's the word from a group studying independent higher education.

Taking private schools into account when setting policies regarding tuition, other costs, and financial aid will diminish the alienation of private institutions from public colleges and universities. It will also help maintain the diversity of choice and access among students, according to the Task Force on State Policy and Independent Higher Education.

The task force, sponsored by the Education Commission of the States, noted that since 1950, private-school enrollment, as a percentage of total enrollment, dropped from 50 percent to 22 percent. Moreover, since they are primarily privately funded, such institutions save taxpayers $12 billion a year, according to the task force's report, "The Preservation of Excellence in American Higher Education: The Essential Role of Private Colleges and Universities."

Copies of the report are available for $18 each from ECS, 707 17th St., Suite 2700, Denver, Colo. 80202-3427; telephone (303) 299-3600.

Enrollment at community colleges grew by 21 percent between 1978 and 1988, 7 percentage points more than the enrollment-growth rate at four-year institutions, according to a study by the American Council on Education.

The figures are encouraging, the study said, because community colleges are considered a step toward higher education for minorities and low-income students--46 percent of all minority students attended community colleges compared with 36 percent of all white students.

But the ACE study noted that between 1983 and 1985, associate degrees awarded annually by community colleges fell 5 percent, from 456,441 to 435,537. Only one-third of community-college students plan to transfer to a four-year institution, the study said.

"Community and Junior Colleges: A Recent Profile," is part of the council's research-brief series, and is available for $50 per year, or $95 for two years and $135 for three years. Write the ACE Division of Policy Analysis and Research, One Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C. 20036-1193.

The U.S. Education Department is sponsoring a conference next week on historically black colleges and universities. Nearly 400 presidents and administrators of these institutions, together with federal officials and members of the private sector, are expected to attend the Sept. 9-11 conference.

Keynote speakers at the meeting include Health and Human Services Secretary Louis H. Sullivan and Energy Secretary James T. Watkins.


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