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Textbook publishers Find Ways For Students To Save Money

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  • Several well known textbook publishers are finding nee and alternative ways to save students money and stabilize revenues with inclusive access digital material models funded by fees included in student material fees.
  • Under the new model of bookselling, students receive digital access to required course materials and have the option to pay additional money for a printed copy, delivered on the first day of class. 
  • Officials at Indiana University told Inside Higher Ed that in the eight years since piloting its eText initiative, revenues exceeded $10 million last year and there was a more than 40% jump in annual growth. 
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Americans Suffering Garnishment On Their Social Security benefits

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According to a report from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO)released on 19 December 2016, stated that 114,000 people in that age group had their benefits garnished during fiscal year 2015, a process the GAO calls an offset. That figure represents an increase of 540 percent compared to fiscal year 2004.

The agency’s acting director of education and workforce security, Allison Bawden, told us that the garnishment was applied to users who have defaulted on their loans and are drawing at least $750 per month in Social Security benefits. The offset can take up to 15 percent of these users’ monthly payments, and the median amount deducted in an offset, she said, was $140 a month.

The GAO report also stated that between fiscal years 2002 and 2015, the number of people between ages 50 and 65 subject to offsets increased by 540 percent.

Around 32 percent of seniors 50 and over “paid off” their loans or were allowed by the Education Department to discharge them due to disability, the report said. But another 13 percent died with their loans still outstanding.

The report was conducted at the request of two Democratic lawmakers, Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Warren called the practice of Social Security garnishments “predatory and counterproductive” in a statement released on 20 December 2016

Impact of Offsets on Older Borrowers' Social Security Benefits 

Since Social Security is the primary source of income for many older Americans, GAO was asked to review these withholdings, known as offsets.

GAO’s Recommendations

Congress should consider modifying Social Security administrative offset provisions, such as by authorizing the Department of the Treasury to annually index the amount of Social Security benefits exempted from administrative offset to reflect changes in the cost of living over time.

The Secretary of Education should inform affected borrowers of the suspension of offset and potential consequences if the borrower does not take action to apply for a TPD discharge. Such information could include notification that interest continues to accrue and that offsets may resume once their disability benefits are converted to retirement benefits.

The Secretary of Education should revise forms sent to borrowers already approved for a TPD discharge to clearly and prominently state that failure to provide annual income verification documentation during the 3-year monitoring period will result in loan reinstatement

The Secretary of Education should evaluate the feasibility and benefits of implementing an automated income verification process, including determining whether the agency has the necessary legal authority to implement such a process.

The Secretary of Education should inform borrowers about the financial hardship exemption option and application process on the agency’s website, as well as the notice of offset sent to borrowers

The Secretary of Education should implement an annual review process to ensure that only eligible borrowers are exempted from offset for financial hardship on an ongoing basis

The library of Congress Hacked In July 2016

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Some say,” The Library of Congress is simply not equipped to join the 21st century”. The Government Accountability Office estimates that the LOC spends roughly $120 million dollars on IT functions, but the library’s accounting records leave much to be desired, particularly when recording acquisitions of new IT assets. The copyright office still runs on a largely paper based system (some records kept are still kept in card catalogues) and is forced to share the library’s aging IT systems. Large digital projects have even failed to materialize, such as the promise of an archive of everything that has been tweeted since 2010. Digitization projects are so far behind that only a fraction of the Library’s 24 million titles have been made available onlineIt is the hope of many  policy advocates and scholars  that with Carla Hayden in the top job, the former crown jewel of American libraries can be pulled out of mothballs and dragged into the 21st century.

What Happens When Professor Decide Who Can Earn A Ph.D ?

 

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Ph.D. programs admissions decisions are made without admissions professionals. Small groups of faculty members meet, department by department, to decide whom to admit. And their decisions effectively determine the future makeup of the faculty in higher education.Politicians, judges, journalists, parents and prospective students subject the admissions policies of undergraduate colleges and professional schools to considerable scrutiny, with much public debate over appropriate criteria.

A book titled Inside Graduate Admissions: Merit, Diversity and Faculty Gatekeeping, is out this month from Harvard University Press. Julie R. Posselt (right), the author and an assistant professor of higher education at the University of Michigan, obtained permission from 6 highly ranked departments at three research universities to watch their reviews of candidates, and she interviewed faculty members at four others.

The faculty members she observed did not present her with a scripted and idealistic view of admissions. They were frank about things that they are unlikely to have shared in public. For instance, those who have Ph.D programs not at the very top of the rankings often talked about not wanting to offer a spot to someone they believed would go to a higher-ranked program. They didn’t want their department to be the graduate equivalent of what high school students applying to college term a safety school. Many of these departments turned down superior candidates, some of whom might have enrolled.Posselt tracks a strong focus on ratings, a priority on GRE scores that extends beyond what most department would admit (or that creators of the test would advise), and some instances of what could be seen as discrimination. White males “dominated” the admissions committees, and Posselt writes that chairs cite diversity as a value in appointing members in only two of the 10 departments she studied. There is a huge focus on GRE scores. Prestige of undergraduate program counted for a lot. But grade point average? Not so much.Grades are increasingly a lousy signal, especially at those elite places that just hand out the A’s. Admissions committee members generally assumed applicants were getting Ph.D.s for careers like theirs and are looking for signs of research potential.

The departments Posselt observed are “misusing the GRE,” and looking at scores “without context of the applicant. She urged departments to reflect on their practices, and to try to improve them and be more open about them.

Retrieved from an article by Scott Jaschik, Editor

Sleepovers @ The Museum….For Adults

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Frontline’s 360 Video-Ebola Outbreak

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Filmed on 360-degree cameras in West Africa, Ebola Outbreak: A Virtual Journey will bring you into the heart of the worst Ebola outbreak on record. You’ll even visit the very spot where the epidemic is believed to have begun.
This 360 documentary is a collaborative project with the content studio Secret Location and Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism.

Racial Tensions Esculating On College Campuses

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Racial tensions at the University of Missouri and Yale University have escalated dramatically in the last week. At the University of Missouri, a student at the flagship campus at Columbia has been on a hunger strike to demand the resignation of President Tim Wolfe, who has not done enough, minority students charge, to deal with racist incidents on campus. The black football players announced  on Saturday that they would boycott games in the future unless Wolfe resigns. He has vowed to do more to improve race relations and he has apologized for his role in one disputed.

At Yale, the last week there was widespread condemnation of an alleged racial incident at a fraternity, and debate over whether an associate master of a residential college showed insensitivity to minority students when she sent out an email encouraging less of a focus on offensive Halloween costumes.

At Missouri at Columbia  black students reported being on the receiving end of racial slurs. Halloween parties set off racial tensions at many campuses, just about every year, with some students using blackface or racially oriented costumes in ways that offend. This year was no different; consider this controversy over white students at the University of Wisconsin at Stout dressing up in blackface as members of the Jamaican bobsled team. Yale has seen two Halloween party controversies this year. One has been over allegations that members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity barred minority women from attending a Halloween party, telling them that “white girls only” were wanted there. The Yale advice (available here) stressed the importance of not basing costumes on race or ethnicity, and the problems with using blackface or wearing clothing that reinforces stereotypes.

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