News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

Ed. Dept. Issues Rules on Extra College Aid

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The Department of Education released final rules last week for administering the Academic Competitiveness Grants and the Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent, or SMART, Grants. The recently established programs give extra money to certain Pell Grant-eligible college students who took a rigorous high school curriculum or who major in mathematics, science, or critical foreign languages.

Under the rules, published in the Federal Register on Nov. 1, students who believe they may qualify for an Academic Competitiveness Grant must alert the Education Department. The department then requires the colleges those students plan to attend to check their high school transcripts to make sure they are eligible for the extra aid.

The American Council on Education, a Washington-based umbrella association representing 1,800 colleges, told the department in a August letter that requiring colleges to verify students’ transcripts would be burdensome for administrators.

Bill Parsons, the group’s associate director for government relations, said he was dismayed that the department did not heed that recommendation, among other suggestions the ACE made, when crafting the final rules.

“Our institutions are going to want to benefit as many students as are eligible for these benefits,” Mr. Parsons said. “The problem is that they’re going to be significantly and unnecessarily hindered in their ability to do that by this final rule.”

The rules will take effect next July 1, for the 2007-08 academic year. The Education Department will seek public input and possibly revise the regulations for 2008-09 and beyond.

Vol. 26, Issue 11, Page 22

Published in Print: November 8, 2006, as Ed. Dept. Issues Rules on Extra College Aid
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