California lawmakers unveiled a plan Monday to create the country's first college aid program that would not only cover the cost of tuition for low-income students but also the living expenses for those with student loans attending public colleges and universities. Roughly 55 percent of all college students in California reportedly graduated with debt averaging $21,382 from the 2014-2015 school year. The new student aid program would make the California Student Aid Commission the most generous in the country by covering living expenses like books and transportation, which is estimated to account for 60 percent of the cost of attending University of California system schools, the Los Angeles Times reported. Other "free college" programs in Oregon and Tennessee were covering the full cost of tuition for low-income students but not living expenses. More than 60 percent of Cal State students had their full tuition covered by the California Student Aid Commission, compared to roughly half of University of California and community college students.
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools President Nina Rees says Democrats are loyal to public school unions and therefore must automatically oppose the charter school system. As Democrats seeking to unseat President Trump in 2020 call for funding to be diverted from charter schools, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools president Nina Rees accused the party of bowing to teachers' unions in exchange for sizable campaign contributions. "The simple answer is that the teachers' unions are now more powerful than ever before when it comes to Democrat party politics," she said on the latest edition of "The Journal Editorial Report," which aired Saturday. "The unions have discovered that because our teachers are not unionized, that they have a fewer share of the market than they had before. "So, increasingly, they're flexing their muscles," Rees continued, noting how they spent tens of millions of dollars during the 2016 election cycle. "So, to the extent these Democrats are vying for the support of the teachers' unions, they've discovered that opposing charter schools is one way to get that support." Rees said most students in charter schools have been from low-income households and refuted the claim that charter schools chose only the best students, leaving the public school system with harder cases. CALIFORNIA TEACHERS UNION HAS SPENT $4.3 IN 2019 TO TRY TO STYMIE CHARTER SCHOOLS: REPORT "Over two-thirds of the students in charter schools are students of color.
Wealthy private colleges are under pressure to enroll more low-income students. Four schools are looking to be a model. Generally, despite their prosperity, rich colleges don't give many students of lesser means a shot at an elite, private education. But there are private institutions that buck this trend. At Williams College, a highly selective liberal arts college in rural Massachusetts, 22 percent of its roughly 2,000 students last academic year received Pell Grants -- federal aid typically for students from families earning less than $40,000 a year.
The sticker price of college is increasing, but for low-income students, financial aid programs can make some of the most competitive schools the most affordable. Studies have found as many as 40 percent of incoming students do not attend the most competitive school they could get into, and that this "undermatching" phenomenon is driven by students' application choices rather than schools' admissions decisions. A new working paper suggests that removing those barriers with a promise of financial aid can significantly increase the number of low-income students who apply to and enroll in a selective college. Researchers at the University of Michigan designed an experiment to see how a relatively low-cost intervention could affect where high-school seniors went to college. The school sent personalized mailers to high-achieving, low-income students, their parents, and their principals, telling them that if the students got into UM they'd get full tuition because they qualified for a High Achieving Involved Leader Scholarship.
Since becoming education secretary in March, John King has been advocating for greater income diversity in America's schools. While King only has a year or so left in his term as secretary, he is taking the right approach to improving outcomes for schools and students. After all, our nation's education system has become deeply segregated by income. More than 70 percent of low-income kids attend schools where most of the other students are low-income, according to one recent report. What's more, peers have a significant impact on student performance, and a wealth of studies have found that students who attend more income diverse schools have improved results.