Daily Debriefing

by Manisha Apte | 11/13/08 3:56am

Following the advice of a panel of experts, the U.S. Department of Energy has decided to halt funding for the Free Air CO2 Enrichment research program, despite opposition from many of the scientists involved, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. The multimillion dollar program has spent over a decade exposing small groups of trees to elevated levels of carbon dioxide in order to test forests' response to global warming, the Associated Press reported. The program is now expected to enter the last phase, during which scientists will chop down the trees and collect data from the soil, though some scientists believe it is too early to move on to this stage. The research, which was conducted at Duke University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and the Harshaw Experimental Forest in Wisconsin, is expected to be completed by 2011.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced it will spend several hundred million dollars of its $3 billion education budget on efforts to increase access to higher education in the United States, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported Wednesday. The foundation hopes to double the number of low-income students under age 26 who receive a college degree or fulfill a certificate program. Melinda Gates, co-chair of the foundation, said investment in higher education is necessary to anti-poverty efforts, due to the increase in jobs that require post-secondary education and the fact that currently only 20 percent of low-income black and Hispanic students acquire these credentials, the Chronicle reported. The United States is currently ranked 10th in the world in the percentage of adults between the age of 25 and 34 who hold a post-secondary credential, the Chronicle reported.

The U.S. Department of Education has found that the college student aid process can be simplified, and Sara Martinez Tucker, the U.S. under secretary of education, will present a new plan to Congress this week, Inside Higher Ed reported Wednesday. Under the plan, the Department of Education would change its criteria for granting financial aid, focusing on the relationship between the average cost of attendance at a two-year public college and the total income of the student's family, rather than determining how a student's financial situation fits with the college of their choice, Inside Higher Ed reported. The administration's plan would also consolidate federal grant and loan programs in the Pell Grant Program, one of several of the plan's components that have drawn criticism from opponents. The plan also includes reducing the length of the Free Application for the Federal Student Aid to only two pages. The plan aims to address students in need and to create a more concise application for families, Tucker said. The new plan comes on the heels of a September report, published by the College Board report, that called for major changes in federal student aid programs.