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Central Michigan University

COVID-19 has thrown a major wrench into the higher education experience. Now, both students and schools are grappling with what college may look like in the fall semester. Some schools have already announced that they will be returning to campus, but the unprecedented nature of this pandemic means many plans are still up in the air.

An empty lecture hall
Nathan Dumlao / Unsplash

Today on Stateside, we’ll talk to a graduating high school senior about what’s on her mind as she prepares for a freshman year at college that looks very different than what she expected. Plus, we’ll hear from author Michael Zadoorian about his new novel and the death of the book tour. 

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“You’re all brave for coming out here,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel jokingly told a small, but packed, hall of mostly students at Michigan State University on Wednesday night. “I know you’re not the most popular kids on campus, being Republicans,” she added. “I see you with your Keep America Great hat! That’s awesome.” 

The Old Main building at Wayne State University
Wikimedia Commons

Starting next year, high school graduates in Detroit can receive free college tuition if they choose to attend Wayne State University.

The “Heart of Detroit Tuition Pledge” covers scholarships for city residents who have applied for federal student aid. The university estimates more than 49,000 students enrolled in Detroit public schools are eligible for the program. Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson says the school has multiple funding sources for the pledge.

When Lesley Del Rio goes to the library to do her college math homework, she often has a study buddy: her precocious 8-year-old son, Leo.

Del Rio is working on her associate degree; Leo is working on third grade.

And Del Rio is not alone: More than 1 in 5 college students in the U.S. are raising kids. That's more than 4 million undergraduates, and they are disproportionately women and people of color. Of those students, more than half will leave school without getting a degree.

pile of one dollar bills
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report from The Century Foundation examined college affordability challenges in Michigan, and found low and middle income families in the state cannot afford rising college tuition. 

The Michigan’s College Affordability Crisis report says that since 2000, the state has cut funding to universities despite rising tuition costs. Over the past two decades, the group found that more of the financial burden was placed on families.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Legislation regulating free speech policies on Michigan’s university and college campuses moved forward this week.

House Bill 4436 directs college and university administrators to develop free expression policies that allow students and faculty to discuss anything. It would also require that campuses be open to any speaker invited by students or faculty members.

The legislation is in response to past events where liberal student groups disrupted speeches by far-right speakers.

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The future for some private colleges will come down to their ability to think “outside the [traditional tuition] box,” says Jayson Boyers, President of Cleary University, a small business school based in Howell.

And for Cleary, that means partnering with private companies to allow the company’s employees, and those employees’ spouses, kids, and even grandkids, a free online education.

Group of five people in graduation cap and gown
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Foster care advocates gathered in Lansing Tuesday to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Fostering Success Michigan.

The statewide initiative's mission is to help teens and young adults who've been in foster care graduate from college and build successful careers. 

Getting a college acceptance letter is exciting for most students, but especially for those who've spent time in the foster care system. That's because only 20 percent of graduating teens who've been in foster care make it to college. 

Carrie Gabella / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The ideal ratio of students to school counselors is 250-to-1.

The ratio in Michigan high schools these days? About 500-to-1. In some schools, it's around 750-to-1.

That shortage is hurting kids as they try to navigate the process of applying for and getting into some kind of post-secondary education.

Shaun Murphy / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

College campuses are filling up with students again, which means all the associated stress is returning to campuses too.

Upward Bound alum Amy Lehigh, and parent of alum Jackie Allard.
Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Many programs are on the chopping block in President Trump's proposed budget.

That includes the Upward Bound program, which helps rural low-income kids who are the first in their families to go to college.

Upward Bound is for students in 9th-12th grades, offering field trips along with academic instruction in subjects like math, literature and foreign languages.  Students learn how to study in college, how to take good notes, and what to expect once they get on campus.

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A new study released last month suggests that when college admissions officers have more background information about applicant high schools, students from low-income communities have a higher likelihood of acceptance. 

Learning more about district test scores, AP class offerings, and available support services from a high school can help an admissions officer identify high-achieving students in areas with limited resources or opportunities. 

It's SAT and ACT season.

The high-stakes tests for high school juniors do more than just assign a number to your math and reading skills. There's also a lot of scholarship money available for students who earn high scores.  

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Professors at college campuses across the state have handed out their semester outlines, reading lists and assignments for the new semester.

A group of Michigan State University students would like to return the favor.

Flickr user Brian Turner/Flickr
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A group says free speech is threatened on college campuses.

FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, rates colleges and universities based on how they restrict free speech.

Its mission is “to defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities.”

That includes protecting freedom of speech, freedom of the press, due process and more.

Shelby Emmett, Legal and Legislative Policy Advocate for FIRE, said she views the group as an “empowerment organization for students.”

hmm360 / morgueFile

The Michigan Postsecondary Credential Attainment workgroup wants more people in Michigan to obtain some type of post-secondary credential by 2025.

That's according to a report the workgroup released this week.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A pair of bills moving through the state Legislature would increase the number of "promise zones" in Michigan.

The Promise scholarship program lets certain high poverty communities use a combination of private and state money to guarantee college tuition or other post-secondary education funding for local students.

Our host for last night's Issues and Ale, ABC Microbrewery, sits just off of the Eastern Michigan University campus in Ypsilanti. Plus, Washtenaw Community College and the University of Michigan are right down the road. 

So it came as no surprise that our audience had a lot to contribute to our Issues and Ale discussion about college access and affordability.

Brittany Bartkowiak / Michigan Radio

We spent our evening in Kalamazoo October 6, 2015 talking college affordability and access with our State of Opportunity team and a panel of special guests.

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A new state Senate bill would add the Fostering Futures Scholarship fund to Michigan’s voluntary contribution schedule.

The state-funded program helps foster youth in Michigan pay for tuition and other costs associated with college.

Under SB 543, taxpayers would be able to donate a portion of their return to the fund via a check-off a box on their tax form.

Mercedes Mejia

The barbershop has long been a place for conversations about life, politics and neighborhood gossip.

Now, there’s a group in Detroit using that forum to get kids to think about college. The effort is dubbed the Barbershop Chats, and it's gaining recognition for the way it engages young African American boys and men.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A Michigan congressman is proposing legislation to help people struggling with student loan debt.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee’s package of bills includes a proposal to make it easier for people filing for bankruptcy to include their student loan debt.

“Only under rare circumstances can student debt be discharged in a bankruptcy. So ... it creates a disincentives for people to try to go to college,” says Kildee.

grand rapids mayor rosalynn bliss
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Michigan Radio’s senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry and Morning Edition host Christina Shockley discuss the first female mayor of Grand Rapids, this week's elections,  accusations of racism against Gov. Snyder and Detroit emergency managers, the number of college degrees among Michigan lawmakers.


Rebecca Kruth

First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to more than 2,000 Detroit students as part of the city's first College Signing Day.

Students from more than 40 Detroit high schools came to hear Obama speak about the importance of committing to higher education.

"In fact, we should all be as excited about college signing day as we are about the Super Bowl, the World Series, and the Playoffs," she said.

www.brookings.edu

Paying for college – it’s a challenge for many households.

Seventy percent of the college grads this year took out student loans, and the average college grad this year is paying back student loans of around $33,000.

While these numbers may seem daunting, advancements in technological and business models may help lower cost of college over time.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - There are many bumps in the road to social and economic mobility in the U.S., and 11 large research universities are taking steps to level one of them.

Michigan State University and 10 other schools have launched a program they say seeks to boost the graduation rates for students from low-income families or from groups that are historically underrepresented among college graduates.

Last week, the University Innovation Alliance announced it's raised $5.7 million from six major funders.

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As college students explore their campuses, they're likely to find a wide array of student groups that pertain to race: The Black Student Union, Asian-American groups, or Hispanic and Latino groups.

Universities say they're spending time and money on trying to increase the number of minority students, especially since the Supreme Court ban in 2006 on affirmative action.

But Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution says the challenges for American colleges should be not only racial diversity, but also economic diversity. 

Especially when universities, including elite schools, haven't upped their percentage of low-come students in generation. 

Haskins says that's what happens when colleges maintain admission standards.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Kalamazoo Promise is expanding to include more than a dozen private colleges in Michigan.

The Promise provides scholarship money for Kalamazoo public school students to attend college. Until now, the Promise has made it possible for students to afford only public colleges and universities. 

But today, the Promise’s Janice Brown announced 15 schools, including Detroit Mercy, Hillsdale College, Hope College and Adrian College, will start matching Promise scholarships beginning in the fall of 2015.

Tulane Public Relations / Creative Commons

More parents and grandparents are setting up savings accounts to cover college expenses for the next generation, according to a national report released today.

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