Reporter’s notebook

Photo: Matthew Dembicki

  • ED hearings on potential new regs
  • Seeking free public transportation for students in L.A.
  • Dash for Cash targets completing the FAFSA
  • Partnership with Uber Eats for student-athletes

ED hearings on potential new regs

The U.S. Education Department will hold public hearings on June 21, 23 and 24 to address a range of higher education topics — including ability to pay, gainful employment requirements, protections for students, loan repayment, target loan cancellation and more — as the first step in the process of issuing new regulations.

“The Department of Education’s primary responsibility is to serve students and borrowers,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a release. “That means taking a fresh look at a range of regulations to make sure they are not creating unnecessary barriers, but instead can ensure that institutions and programs serve our students well.”

ED said it is interested in comments on regulations that would address gaps in postsecondary outcomes, such as retention, completion, student loan repayment and loan default. Specific consideration to disparate impacts by income, race/ethnicity, gender, and other demographic characteristics is encouraged.

Seeking free public transportation for students  in L.A.

Los Angeles is a step closer to approving a pilot program that would provide free public transportation to community colleges and K-12 students in the county.

Staff of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority last week recommended that its board implement the student transit pass pilot program for the 2021-22 fiscal year. As part of the program, all Los Angeles County community college students would receive a fare-free transit on rail and buses operated by Metro, from August 1, 2021 through June 30, 2023.

The 21 community colleges in Los Angeles County enroll approximately 500,000 students annually. Nearly 70% are low-income and more than half live below the poverty line, according to the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD).

“LACCD students currently pay $160 a semester for an LA Metro U-Pass,” said LACCD student trustee Elias de Leon Geronimo. “This is not affordable for many of us — particularly during these difficult economic times. We shouldn’t have to choose between paying for our studies and other basic needs.”

Dash for Cash target completing the FAFSA

Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) is investing $50,000 to encourage Michigan high school seniors to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The first 5,000 students in Michigan to complete their FAFSA on or after April 9 will receive a $10 Meijer gift card. The Dash for Cash program aims to improve FAFSA completion rates in Michigan and increase access to financial aid following a steep decline in college enrollment in the state. As of April 30, Michigan’s FAFSA completion rate for this year’s seniors was 47.1%, down from 52.6% the same time last year, according to MCAN.

Partnerships with Uber eats for student athletes

Compton College has announced a partnership with Uber Eats to provide student-athletes with meals for away contests beginning with the 2021-2022 academic year.

“Bringing Uber Eats into community college athletics is a game-changer as we strive to meet the needs of our student-athletes through increased access and convenience,” said Andree Pacheco, director of student development and athletics at the California college, which has provided meals for away contests for the past several years. “Through a student-athlete survey, we found that far too many students feel they do not eat enough to compete at their highest level and are going to bed hungry. So, we are very excited to pioneer this collaboration with Uber Eats because the company understands our vision to provide essential services to our student-athletes that meet their dietary needs.”

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.