College News Collage: Fair “Pay to Play” Legislation

College news for October 2019: Should college athletes be paid? Also, college admissions scandal update, FAFSA help, bias in SAT scores, and rising tensions on U.S. campuses.
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In the wake of California Gov. Gavin Newsom signing a bill that would allow college athletes to hire agents and sign endorsement deals, similar legislation is popping up across the country, including in the U.S. House of Representatives. North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker introduced a bill back in March that, if passed, would change U.S. tax code to prohibit the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) from requiring college athletes to sign away the rights to their names, images, and likenesses in order to maintain amateur status.

Other states are also following California's example. Maryland Delegate Brooke Lierman announced she would re-introduce legislation allowing Maryland college athletes to unionize and collectively bargain for certain rights, including the right to sign endorsements and receive pay. The bill was formerly introduced earlier this year, but voted down in committee. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Sports Illustrated took a broader look at "fair pay to play" acts, highlighting other states that have introduced similar legislation and the impact such laws could have on the NCAA. That legislation includes New York's SB 6722A, Florida's HB 251 and HB 287, and Illinois's HB 3904. Similar proposals have popped up in Colorado, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.

Campus Tensions

Ohio University Marching Team Suspended After Hazing Accusations Surface

After suspending all of its fraternities over hazing allegations earlier this month, Ohio University is back in the news after suspending its marching band, too. Band members are banned from all non-academic campus activities until the university can conduct an investigation. Three sororities were also suspended over hazing allegations. Hazing is a felony in the United States. For more about the issue of hazing on college campuses, check out Veronica Freeman's article, "College Hazing: What It Is and How to Stop It."

A Group of Students Burned a Latina Author's Book Because They Felt Attacked For Being White

Georgia Southern University made headlines last week after a group of white students burned a book by Latina author Jennine Capó Crucet, who had just given a talk at the college. The book, "Make Your Home Among Strangers," explores the experience of being Latina on a predominantly white campus and was assigned reading for the entire student body. The students felt that the author was unfairly accusing them of racism. Crucet, who had to change hotels due to threats against her, expressed concern for the safety of students of color on Georgia Southern's campus.

University of New Mexico Faculty Vote to Unionize

Both full-time and part-time faculty at the University of New Mexico overwhelmingly voted in favor of unionizing, affiliating themselves with the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors. Unionization in higher education became a hot-button issue late last month when the National Labor Relations Board reversed a 2016 ruling, stripping unionization rights from teaching and research assistants at private universities.

Sexual Misconduct at Elite Universities Surveyed

The Association of American Universities released its 2019 Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct, which surveyed 181,752 undergraduate and graduate students about their awareness of and experience with sexual assault on campus. The survey was first conducted in 2015, and the results show no significant changes in the rate of sexual assault, though respondents did report being more aware of reporting mechanisms and resources. Underreporting is still a major concern.

Portland State University Retains Armed Cops, Adds Unarmed Positions in New Campus Safety Plan

Portland State University in Portland, Oregon, announced last week that it is adding additional armed and unarmed officers to its campus police, which was formed in 2014 when the university cut ties with the Portland Police Bureau. PSU's police force has been the subject of controversy since last year, when officers shot and killed a black man named Jason Washington, who was trying to break up a fight outside a local sports bar. Disarm PSU, a campus group made up of students and faculty, has staged protests calling for a complete disarming of campus police.


As States Cut Funding for Higher Education, Universities Use Lavish Perks to Compete for Students

As states continue to cut funding for education, universities have become increasingly dependent on high tuition to make ends meet, leading them to offer lavish amenities to attract students. CBS News explored this phenomenon, highlighting Louisiana State University, which offers a lazy river in the shape of the school's initials.

House Democrats Unveil Plan to Make College More Affordable

Last week, House Democrats introduced a bill that would make sweeping changes to federal higher education law, including huge increases in financial aid funding and a $94 billion program designed to help states offer tuition-free community college. The legislation would update the Higher Education Act of 1965, which was last updated in 2008. The bill is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate. If you're in need of financial aid, check out Mikael Mulugeta's guide to finding scholarships for college students.

Portland State Gets Federal Grant for SNAP Training

Portland State University will be the first four-year institution to receive a grant from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which offers food stipends to low-income citizens. The grant is intended to help the university hire a full-time case manager, who will reach out to low-income students and help them access federal benefits. The grant will also help cover reimbursements for things like tuition, fees, textbooks, childcare, and transportation.

Turf War Blocked CFPB From Helping Fix Student Loan Forgiveness Program

A recent report from NPR revealed that early last year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP), which enforces federal consumer protection laws, tried to investigate and fix issues within the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. However, the Trump administration instructed loan servicing companies to withhold borrower information from CFBP, citing privacy concerns. Loan servicing companies do share borrower information with privately held credit reporting companies. You can learn more by reading our guide to public service loan forgiveness.

The Real Cost of College: Vast Expansion of 'Fees' Means Up to $5,000 Extra per Semester

In the ongoing conversation about student debt, tuition and housing get most of the blame for the high cost of college. But what about fees? Jennifer Alsever at Fortune magazine took a look at the cumulative cost of student fees for things like athletic facilities, bus access, career services, and mental healthcare. Many courses and labs have additional fees as well. Alsever reports that these fees can add up to $1,500-$5,000 per semester.

What You Need to Know About FAFSA and Divorce

Filling out the FAFSA is the key to financial aid access, but the form can get complicated for families that are separated or where the parents are unmarried. Cheryl Winokur Munk, writing for The Wall Street Journal, explored the unique problems faced by non-nuclear families when filling out the FAFSA. For more about the FAFSA, check out our FAFSA deadlines rundown.

Standardized Tests

Record Number of Colleges Stop Requiring the SAT and ACT Amid Questions of Fairness

Standardized tests have been the subject of scrutiny lately, with critics citing racial and wealth biases in their results. As a result, a record number of colleges are dropping ACT and SAT requirements from their admissions applications. Last year, the University of Chicago made the switch and saw record enrollment for first-generation, low-income, rural, and veteran students. One in four U.S. institutions of higher learning no longer require standardized test scores for admission.

Gov. Newsom Vetoes Allowing Districts to Substitute SAT for 11th Grade State Test

Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed legislation that would have replaced California's standardized 11th grade test with the SAT. Newsom cited the University of California public university system's pending study into whether it should replace its SAT and ACT admissions requirements with the state's 11th grade test as his reason for the veto. The UC system is the largest higher education system in the U.S.

SAT to be New Mexico's Official High School Assessment

In contrast to California, New Mexico has passed state legislation adopting the SAT as the official New Mexico high school assessment test. New Mexico's Public Education Secretary-Designate Ryan Stewart said the move was intended to give students greater opportunities after high school, as the SAT is a standard part of many universities' admissions criteria.

ACT Change Will Allow Students to Retake Individual Sections

In an effort to increase its appeal, the ACT recently changed its policies to allow students to retake single sections of its five-part test instead of retaking the whole test. The five sections cover reading, math, science, English, and writing, and they are graded on a scale of 1-36. The policy change will also allow students to take the test online rather than with pen and paper at a testing center, but only on days when it is administered nationwide.

The Classical Alternative to the SAT

With the ACT and SAT coming under fire as admissions metrics, other tests are making moves to break into the college preparation market. One such test is the Classic Learning Test (CLT), which focuses on Western culture and philosophy as it covers verbal reasoning, grammar and writing, and quantitative reasoning. First introduced in 2016, last year the CLT attracted about 21,000 takers — mostly private high school students.

In Other News

Purdue Trustees Approve Sports Wagering Policy

Early this month, the Purdue University Board of Trustees approved the adoption of a sports wagering policy that bans faculty, staff, and non-athlete students from betting on sporting events involving Purdue athletes, teams, or coaches. The policy also applies to online wagers — even those made through companies in other countries — and violating the policy can result in termination for faculty and sanctions for students. Sports betting is already illegal in the State of Indiana, where Purdue is located.

Following Pushback, University of Alaska Regents Vote to Stop Considering Controversial Merger — At Least for Now

The University of Alaska has voted down plans to merge the system's three accredited universities and its dozen community colleges into a single school. The idea was first floated in response to Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy vetoing $135 million in state funding from the system's budget earlier this summer. That cut has since been eased to $25 million cut this year and another $45 million cut over the next two years. University chancellors have been tight-lipped about the budget cuts, under the direction of system President Jim Johnsen.

New Wave of Parents to Plead Guilty in College Admissions Case

The Varsity Blues college admissions scandal picked up several more guilty pleas from parents — including Douglas Hodge, the former CEO of Pimco — after federal lawyers announced plans to add federal programs bribery to the list of charges for parents who go to trial. One defendant in the case, Marjorie Klapper, was sentenced to three weeks in federal prison for paying to have her son's ACT scores changed and for falsely listing him as African American, Latino, and the first in his family to attend college on his college applications.

Community College, With Google as Instructor

Google is expanding their foray into the online education space with an IT support professional certificate program, which will now be offered through 100 community colleges across the U.S. The course will be hosted on Coursera and is designed to help students springboard into well-paying careers in 6-8 months. You can learn about the myths and benefits of community college from Samantha Solomon. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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