A stone sign spells out "university" in front of a tree.

Here is a look at some of the biggest higher education stories so far:

College affordability program expands. The Biden administration expanded the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program to include teachers, nurses, social workers and other public service workers. It also made Pell Grants available year-round and expanded the income limits for Pell recipients.

Major universities require COVID-19 vaccines. Several colleges and universities announced COVID-19 vaccine mandates for students, faculty and staff including Harvard, UC Berkeley and the State University of New York. The mandates aim to return campuses safely to full capacity this fall.

Department of Justice files lawsuit against Harvard. The DOJ accused Harvard of discriminating against Asian American applicants in its admissions process. The case could impact how colleges consider race in admissions decisions.

Student loan payments pause extended again. President Biden extended the pause on federal student loan payments through September 30, providing relief for millions of borrowers amid the economic uncertainty.

House passes $3.5 trillion social spending plan. The plan includes $450 billion for education funded by tax increases on corporations and high-income individuals. The proposal faces an uncertain future in an evenly divided Senate.

Public approval of colleges declines sharply. A Gallup poll found public approval of colleges dropped 17 points compared to 2019. Only 16% of Americans now view colleges positively. Criticisms of “woke culture,” cost and perceived indoctrination are cited as likely contributors.

New study examines student mental health crisis. A report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni found concerns over students’ wellbeing including anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and self-harm. It urges colleges to invest in resources, train faculty and form partnerships to support students.

Legal challenges filed over vaccine mandates. Lawsuits were filed against mandates at Indiana University, UCLA, and others alleging violations of medical privacy, religious freedom and consent laws. Courts will determine if mandates can be required or if exemptions must be allowed.

Teacher shortages prompting pay raises and hiring bonuses. Schools nationwide are raising teacher pay and offering hiring bonuses to fill vacancies as the academic year begins. Shortages of teachers, bus drivers, nurses and other support staff pose difficulties returning to normal operations.

Congress debates making Pell Grant mandatory. Legislation would make Pell Grants mandatory for any student with financial need. Critics argue against unfunded mandates while others say it’s necessary to increase access in the face of rising tuition and costs. The proposal faces an uncertain path forward.

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