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Friday, July 12, 2013

Financial Aid for Students: Online Resources

Laura L. Monagle
Information Research Specialist

This report identifies various online sources for planning and acquiring funds for postsecondary education. Students themselves are often in the best position to determine which aid programs they may qualify for and which best meet their needs. This list includes both general and comprehensive sources, as well as those targeted toward specific types of aid and circumstances (e.g., non-need-based scholarships; female and minority students; students studying abroad; or veterans, military personnel, and their dependents). The selection of a resource for inclusion in this report is based upon a multitude of criteria, including long-standing history in publishing print guides on financial aid and other college information guides (e.g., College Board, Peterson’s, Princeton Review, Reference Service Press) and information on selected topics (e.g., specialized educational disciplines or students). The references in this report are examples, not an all-inclusive list, of resources to consult.

Many of the websites listed in this report enable a student to conduct and save general and individualized scholarship, grant, and loan searches on a variety of issues, including intended area of study. Some of these listed resources also contain information on repaying, forgiving, decreasing, or discharging incurred educational financial debt through a variety of options, such as employment in certain professions or localities. The works cited should be considered as samples of the types of guides available in a variety of hard copy and electronic formats through libraries, high school guidance offices, college financial aid offices, and the web. Individual publishing services may be consulted for additional publications. Most public libraries provide access to the Internet for public use.

Date of Report: June 17, 2013
Number of Pages: 15
Order Number: R43108
Price: $29.95

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

School Resource Officers: Law Enforcement Officers in Schools

Nathan James
Analyst in Crime Policy

Gail McCallion
Specialist in Social Policy

Some policymakers have expressed renewed interest in school resource officers (SROs) as a result of the December 2012 mass shooting that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. SROs are sworn law enforcement officers who are assigned to work in schools.

For FY2014, the Administration requested $150 million in funding for a Comprehensive Schools Safety Program under the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program. The proposed program would provide funding for hiring school safety personnel, including SROs, civilian public safety personnel, school psychologists, social workers, and counselors. Funding would also be available for purchasing school safety equipment, developing and updating public safety plans, conducting threat assessments, and training crisis intervention teams.

Data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics show that the number of full-time law enforcement officers employed by local police departments or sheriff’s offices who were assigned to work as SROs increased between 1997 and 2003 before decreasing slightly in 2007 (the most recent year for which data are available). Data show that a greater proportion of high schools, schools in cities, and schools with enrollments of 1,000 or more report having SROs.

Two federal grant programs promoted SRO programs: the COPS in Schools (CIS) program, which was funded until FY2005, and State Formula Grants under the Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Act (SDFSCA), which was funded until FY2009. The CIS program provided grants for hiring new, additional school resource officers to conduct community policing services in and around primary and secondary schools. Local educational agencies could use funds they received under the SDFSCA State Formula Grant program for, among other things, hiring and training school security personnel.

The body of research on the effectiveness of SRO programs is limited, both in terms of the number of studies published and the methodological rigor of the studies conducted. The research that is available draws conflicting conclusions about whether SRO programs are effective at reducing school violence. Also, the research does not address whether SRO programs deter school shootings, one of the key reasons for renewed congressional interest in these programs.

There are several questions Congress might consider in the context of grant funding specifically for SRO programs.

  • Does the current level of school violence warrant congressional efforts to expand the number of SROs in schools across the country? Data suggest that schools are, generally speaking, safe places for children. During the 2010-2011 school year there were 11 reported homicides of children at school. The number of youth homicides that occurred at school remained less than 2% of the total number of homicides of school aged children for each school year going back to the 1992-1993 school year. In 2010, fewer children reported being the victim of a serious violent crime or a simple assault while at school compared to 1994. However, data also show that some schools—namely middle schools, city schools, and schools with a higher proportion of low-income students—have higher rates of reported violent incidents, and schools with a higher proportion of low-income students had higher rates of reported serious violent incidents.
  • Is funding for a wide-scale expansion of SRO programs financially sustainable? If Congress expanded the number of SROs through additional federal funding, it is likely that many of those officers would go to law enforcement agencies serving jurisdictions of fewer than 25,000 people (data show that nearly 88% of police departments and almost half of sheriff’s offices serve jurisdictions of fewer than 25,000 people). Traditionally, COPS grants have provided “seed” money for local law enforcement agencies to hire new officers, but it is the responsibility of the recipient agency to retain the officer(s) after the grant expires. Since smaller law enforcement agencies tend to have smaller operating budgets and smaller sworn forces, retaining even one or two additional officers after a grant expired might pose a significant financial burden. 
  • Would additional SROs result in more children being placed in the criminal justice system? Research in this area is limited to a small number of studies, but these suggest that children in schools with SROs might be more likely to be arrested for low-level offenses. On the other hand, some studies indicate that SROs can deter students from committing assaults on campus as well as bringing weapons to school. Schools with SROs may also be more likely to report nonserious violent crimes (i.e., physical attack or fights without a weapon and threat of physical attack without a weapon) to the police than schools lacking SROs.

Date of Report: June 26, 2013
Number of Pages: 35
Order Number: R43126
Price: $29.95

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