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Feds close firms for scholarship scams

WASHINGTON – A joint project involving three federal agencies has closed down 11 companies accused of defrauding students and their families in college scholarship scams during the past several years. The project has recovered $560,000 and sent one person to jail. However, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Justice Department, and Education Department reported that the number of complaints of scholarship fraud has dropped since 1999 because of more-aggressive law enforcement and better-educated consumers. The FTC said its biggest bust so far was a Maryland man, convicted of mail fraud in 1999 and sentenced to three years in prison. He defrauded 50,000 people out of $500,000, after sending form letters to students offering a (useless) scholarship list for $10.

Higher-ed aid shrinks as tuition rises

SAN JOSE, CALIF. – A report released last week by a California think tank warns that tuition at public colleges and universities is taking a bigger bite out of many families' paychecks, outpacing financial aid and state support. The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education reports that, in 1980, tuition ranged from 3 percent to 6 percent of income for middle-class Americans. In 2000, tuition took 5 percent to 11 percent.

Also last week, congressional Democrats urged President Bush to increase federal help to hold down higher-education costs. States plan to cut $5.5 billion from higher education over two years, Democrats said, with 30 already making midyear cuts. Shrinking state budgets, coupled with increasing tuition and federal aid that does not keep pace with rising costs, could close the doors to college for 110,000 students, they said.

Student-professor fraternization banned

Dozens of universities – including several this year – have officially outlawed romantic affairs between professors and their students. In some cases, including a recent ban at Ohio's Wesleyan University, policies were the products of embarrassing incidents – with an eye to an increasingly litigious society. In others, such as Duke University in Durham, N.C., schools wanted to prevent problems by making it clear where they stood.

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