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Colleges charge tons of junk fees for food and books. Biden may force them to scale back.

Colleges charge tons of junk fees for food and books. Biden may force them to scale back.


Zachary Schermele
January 10, 2024
The Biden administration is considering new regulations on colleges to curb hidden fees for things such as food and textbooks.
The changes are part of a bundle of reforms the Education Department is debating this week during a fresh round of policy discussions. The talks are largely centered on heightening federal scrutiny of the higher education industry − a priority President Joe Biden has indicated is a piece of his efforts to bring down the soaring cost of college and ease the student loan debt it causes.
“The president told me directly that he wants us to be equally as aggressive with debt relief and accountability,” said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on a phone call with reporters in October.
Under some of the proposed changes to federal law, universities would be barred from pocketing some of the leftover money they get for low-income students whose school meal plans are paid for using federal financial aid.
At many colleges, students use special meal funds − called “flex” accounts − to help cover part of their food expenses (at grocery stores, for example). Money in those accounts can come from the federal government, which helps colleges with financial aid programs. But students don’t always use all their “flex” money by the end of the year, and in some cases, schools end up keeping the difference.

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