Wednesday, March 17, 2010


The Logo of the Federal Student Aid from the U.S. Department of Education

Federal student aid is changing to reflect the realities of the lives of low and moderate income college students.  New regulations allow students to use Pell grant funds to support summer course work.  Because they have to work, many public college students, the majority at community colleges around the nation, take less than a full course load during the fall and spring semesters.  Supporting summer studies would help these students graduate faster.

According to the financial aid office at Springfield Technical Community college, the following are federal eligibility requirements for this new summer aid:

  • Student must have a completed 2009-2010 FAFSA on file in the Financial Aid Office
  • Enroll in a minimum of 6 credits during summer
  • Student must be currently enrolled in a degree granting or certificate program
  • Not graduating at the end of Spring 2010
  • Student must be making Satisfactory Academic Progress and be in Good Academic Standing at the end of Spring 2010
  • If a student received Pell Grant funds during the Summer 2009 from another institution, her/his eligibility for Summer 2010 may be affected

Additional reforms already announced will further aid incoming low and moderate income students.  Effective in the summer of 2011 newly enrolled students will be able to access federal aid for summer course work.  This will not only allow incoming students to get a head start on college requirements, but also provide a funding mechanism to support bridge programs for students to make up deficiencies in English and mathematics prior to the beginning of the fall semester.
The old model of college – a fall and spring semester in which students live on campus and go to class full-time – is relevant, primarily, to a minority of Americans whose affluent parents can support their studies.   It is encouraging that the Obama administration is changing federal financial aid regulations to catch up with the reality of most American college students.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How Community Colleges help North Carolina to lure new companies and keep old ones

Bill Ingram, President of Durham Technical Community College

A strong partnership with the state’s 58 community colleges is a cornerstone of North Carolina’s remarkable economic success.  ( for more information about the North Carolina system). The state supports company expansion by generous training programs delivered by local community colleges.  According to William Ingram, President of Durham Technical Community College, “North Carolina would rather subsidize industry by paying for employee training than give tax breaks.  If the company moves the first strategy leaves behind an educated workforce while the second strategy may provide no lasting benefit.”

Like most states, North Carolina has a system of workforce development (also called regional employment) boards supported by federal funds.  President Ingram described this system as not being very significant to local community colleges.  President of the North Carolina Community College System, Scott Ralls, emphasized that direct state funds were the key to economic progress in North Carolina. “Our community colleges have a tradition of supporting economic development and the customized job program helps make that happen”, stated Ralls.

The customized job program in North Carolina, run by the North Carolina Community College System, is designed to help “industries improve their productivity and profitability to assure their continued presence in North Carolina .”  Even in a recession year, North Carolina provided $12.5 Million in new funds for this program in 2009-2010.  Because the community college system is able to retain unexpended funds from previous years, almost $20 Million is now available for North Carolina’s community colleges for workforce education and training.

N.C. Community College System President Ralls spoke of the long-term value of using community colleges to support employee training for local companies.  “Over time, our community colleges develop relations with companies that are very helpful in times of economic stress.” For example, when a company is thinking about consolidating, the local community college president can call company officials to work to ensure that local jobs are retained.  

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Representative Sean Garballey announcing the formation of the public higher education caucus at the Massachusetts State House on March 8


Massachusetts known as an educational leader nationally, lags in support for public higher education.  An editorial in the Springfield, Massachusetts Republican ( sums up the condition of state support for the Commonwealth’s public colleges:
In the fiscal year that ended on June 30, Massachusetts was ranked 46th in per-capita appropriation for public higher education, according to recent statistics. Other statistics show that tuition and fees are 33 percent higher than the national average for four-year institutions and 49 percent for a two-year community college.”

The new public higher education caucus hopes to move Massachusetts closer to the funding support of other states.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


STCC Students at March 8 Rally for Public Higher Education at the State House in Boston:

Back Row: Angelina Cavallini, Daniel Murphy, Sheila Colon, Joseph Kakley, Jonathan Santos
Middle Row: Richard Calderon, Micki Betton, Rose Hill, Denise Moore
Front Row: Luis Gonzalez, Beverly Wiggins, Andrea Craddy

On March 8, a contingent of STCC students joined hundreds of others from public colleges across the Commonwealth to press for more funding for public higher education.  Organized by PHENOM, the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts, demonstrators asked that Massachusetts "be average".  By that they meant that funding per capita in Massachusetts should reach the national median.  At present Massachusetts ranks 46th among the 50 states by this measure.

Speakers at the rally argued that public colleges which are witnessing dramatic increases in student enrollment require more rather than less money from the state government.  Even in a state like Massachusetts noted for its many private colleges, the Great Recession has altered the landscape of higher education.  Students who could once afford a private college are opting for public colleges.  Students who once would have gone to a four year college are choosing community colleges because of their low cost.

The demonstration was organized to coincide with budget season at the State Legislature with the House now considering next year's budget.  Governor Patrick has submitted a level-funded budget for public colleges for fiscal year 2011.  It remains to see how the Legislature will treat the public colleges.  

The March 8 rally on the Boston Commons opposite the State House.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cultural Landscape Report of the Springfield Armory Site

Springfield Technical Community College occupies with the Springfield Armory Museum a 55 acre national historic and cultural site. Founded by President George Washington in 1794 as the first national armory, the site is the only one in the nation that houses a college.

To management this asset the National Park Service has conducted a cultural landscape report that traces the history of this geographic area. The landscape report focuses on everything but the buildings – plants, animals, water resources, roads, fences – found on the site.

The report will be the basis for a joint management plan that will allow the college and federal government to protect and enhance the Springfield Armory National Historic Site. Both parties want to ensure that this plan will protect for future generations the beauty of the area as well as a record of its rich military and industrial history.

Historic Fence That Surrounds the 55 Acre Site