Two of our local reporters work to cut through the noise of financial aid. And, we hope you’ll join our next online discussion.

The Dispatch
Sign up for the newsletter

A newsletter about role of higher education in society — plus Open Campus developments.

Simplifying the narrative

Paying for college is complicated. There are loans and grants, net prices and sticker prices, and often-confusing financial aid offer letters from the colleges themselves.

How much a college costs comes down to individual transactions and choices. And that can make it difficult to talk about it — even for the legislators who are trying to write new policies.

We often talk to our reporters about the importance of complicating narratives, rather than rehashing what’s been said. But when it comes to paying for college, things are complicated enough already. Two of our reporters — Amy Morona in Cleveland and Molly Minta in Mississippi — broke down two different approaches to helping students afford college.

In Mississippi, Molly sorts out the winners and losers in a new financial-aid bill that’s working its way through the legislature. Overall, the state’s new approach to giving out aid would bring “less money for college for low-income students and an increased emphasis on workforce development,” she reports.

And Amy answered some key questions about “Say Yes,” Cleveland’s iteration of a national program meant to increase college-going rates. The explainer is the first piece in Amy’s plans to increase coverage of “Say Yes.” As someone who was a first-generation college student herself, Amy understands how difficult it can be to navigate programs that are meant to help.

“It’s such a big vehicle that can really help a lot of students and families,” she says, “but only if they utilize it, and in turn, if the myriad of officials linked with the organization all do what they say they will.”

— Colleen Murphy

The gap between hope and reality

Join us for an online discussion with formerly incarcerated students, education experts, and college and corrections officials preparing for the return of Pell Grants to people in prisons. Register here for the event, which will be held Thursday, Feb. 28, at 3 p.m. ET.

Lots of people have been pinning their hopes for college on this policy change, but the reality is that most of those inside still won’t be able to get a college education.

Charlotte West, our staff reporter covering prison higher ed, will lead conversations about the gaps in information and preparation and explore what it will take to remove barriers.

On the road

We’d love to say hi if any of your paths will be crossing ours in the coming weeks. Please reach out and let us know!

  • Maria Archangelo, our chief revenue officer, and Jarrett Carter Sr., who works with us in our HBCU Student Journalism Network, will be in Miami next week, Feb. 22–23, for the Knight Media Forum.
  • Charlotte West, our reporter covering prison higher ed, will be in Austin the week of March 6 for SXSW EDU. Stop by a panel she’s moderating at 1 p.m. CT on March 6 about why access to higher ed in prisons matters.
  • Nick Fouriezos, our reporter covering college in rural America, will be driving through Colorado and Kansas in early March to talk with people about the role of higher ed in their communities. If you live there or know people in those states you think Nick should know, send him a note.
Scientific American, 1970.

Elsewhere on Open Campus

From College Inside: Prison tech training in 1970 didn’t look all that different than it does today.

From Cleveland: Thousands of people in Northeast Ohio are eligible to return to public colleges as part of the Ohio College Comeback Compact. But in the program’s pilot year, only about 150 actually did.

From Colorado: A new study shows parents’ diverging views on the importance of a college degree.

From El Paso: What does the battle over DEI mean for the University of Texas at El Paso? Stay tuned.

From Mississippi: The president of Jackson State University has the support of the Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees, amid a faculty senate vote of “no confidence.”

From Tampa Bay: The University of South Florida charged students signing up for online classes more in fees than the law allows.

Keep in touch

Please share. Forward this newsletter to colleagues, family, and friends who might be interested. They can sign up for their own copy here.

Support our journalism. Here’s where to donate.

Run a newsroom and want to improve your coverage of higher ed? Let’s talk.

Got a story tip or a question? Please send it along.