Posts tagged with Assets And Education Initiative

KU researchers hope to draw attention to financial-aid ideas in Washington next week

There's a chance you could see some KU researchers in the news on Monday, when a group of KU social welfare researchers is going to present a report about financial aid in Washington, D.C., with the help of the policy group the New America Foundation.

More details will be in their report, but I wrote about the group, the Assets and Education Initiative, earlier this year. The idea these KU researchers advocate, and what I imagine they'll be pitching in their first biannual report next week, is that America would be better off if it focused financial aid for college students less on loans and more on government-funded savings accounts that would be created at birth.

When I talked with the initative's director, William Elliott, about what to expect, he noted that this will be happening while financial aid is a frequent subject in the news, thanks to the recent doubling of subsidized federal student loan rates. For him and his colleagues, he said the aim would be to shift that conversation to the bigger picture, asking if student loans are really the best way to make higher education more accessible in the first place.

"There are different ways of thinking about the college debt situation, and how we can potentially maximize the dollars that we're already spending," Elliott said.

He says people should think not just about providing aid so students can attend college — they should think about providing aid that will help students be more successful in college and in their lives afterward. And his research has suggested that college savings accounts for children, even ones smaller than $500, would do just that.

Elliott says a contingent of four people from KU will spend Monday in Washington rolling out their report and hoping to draw some media coverage, and on Tuesday they'll meet with some U.S. senators and their staffs.

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    KU links: Research cuts, rising loan rates and missing butterflies in Canada

    It seems that news mentions of KU tend to slow down a bit during these summer months, so our little links roundup here has become an every-few-weeks feature for now.

    But here are some assorted KU quotes, mentions and other bits from around the Internet from the last few weeks:

    • Steve Warren, KU's vice chancellor for research and graduate studies, called the federal cuts to research funding a "slow-growing cancer" at a roundtable event Wednesday in Washington, D.C., as reported by Inside Higher Ed. (Or, if the Huffington Post is to be believed, he called them a "slowly growing cancer.") Warren talked to us about that very same subject earlier this week.

    • Another KU official sounded off in a letter to the Chronicle of Higher Education last week about another hot-button higher-education issue of the moment: student-loan interest rates. Melinda Lewis, a policy director for the Assets and Education Initiative in KU's School of Social Welfare, wrote that whether or not loan interest rates rise, a better mechanism for helping children succeed in college would be government-funded savings accounts.

    I wrote about the KU researchers studying that concept back in February. You might see some more media coverage of their ideas next week, when they'll be presenting a report in Washington, D.C.

    • Also on the subject of student-loan interest rates, the Kansas City Star talked with KU student Tyler Childress about the loans he has piled up.

    (In case you haven't seen, by the way: Congress has not yet reached an agreement to keep rates on subsidized federal loans from doubling to 6.8 percent.)

    • The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. talked with KU monarch butterfly expert Chip Taylor about why monarchs have been rare in the province of Ontario so far this summer.

    • The KC Star also talked with Lisa Pinamonti Kress, KU's admissions director, about how KU tries to recruit minority students after the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling on race-based admissions.

    Now that I've listed them all out, I see most of those links contain a fair bit of doom and gloom. Sorry about that. Cheer me up by sending a KU news tip to

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