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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

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Opponents of latest AR state tax cuts say they benefit wealthy Arkansans; Julian Assange agrees to a plea deal that would allow him to avoid imprisonment in US; Tech-based carbon-capture projects make headway in local government; NV nonprofit calls Biden's student debt initiatives economic justice.

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Charges against fake electors in Nevada are dismissed, Milwaukee officials get ready to expect the unexpected at the RNC convention, and the Justice Department says Alaska is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

ND looks to ease 'upskill' obstacles for former college students

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Wednesday, April 17, 2024   

This summer, colleges and universities will have to comply with a new federal rule and not withhold students' transcripts over unpaid tuition and fees.

North Dakota officials see the movement as a boost to people pursuing new job skills. The U.S. Education Department said starting July 1, higher-ed institutions cannot refuse to turn over transcripts related to any course paid for by federal student loans or grants, which are sometimes prompted by overdue book fees or other school debt.

Lisa Johnson, vice chancellor of academic and student affairs for the North Dakota University System, said for a person looking to re-enroll or apply for a new job, overcoming such obstacles can be huge.

"If we're trying to attract returning adults, individuals who have 'stopped out,' this really has to be a part of your focus and the broader array of policies and procedures that we look at," Johnson contended.

North Dakota's system is not designed to issue partial transcripts. Johnson expects the state to honor releases for all situations involving an outstanding balance. A formal vote is expected this spring. She noted campuses would still have leeway to prevent a student from seeking new courses at their school over fears they would be taking on too much additional debt.

In those cases, Johnson pointed out a student can try to work with the campus on a repayment plan, or seek out opportunities at other schools, including certificate programs which may cost less. She added some North Dakota schools are exploring other ways to ease debt issues.

"Campuses are having preliminary discussions about waiving low levels of outstanding debt," Johnson emphasized. "Things like parking tickets."

Beyond wiping out minor balances, she noted schools within the North Dakota system are being proactive in working with former students looking to pay off their debt. She said it is better than relying on collection agencies tacking on additional fees and putting students in a more difficult spot.

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.


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