The student derailed by a flat tire said that when he could no longer make it to campus, he’d withdrawn from his courses, which dropped him below the U.S. Department of Education’s threshold for satisfactory academic progress. The federal government allows financial-aid administrators to use their discretion to restore eligibility for aid, which Birchett might have done if he’d understood the student’s predicament. Tangalakis said that financial-aid professionals like herself are accustomed to thinking of their work as quantitative and largely exempt from concerns about bias. “But the longer you’re in financial aid and the more critically you look at it, the more you see patterns that fall more heavily on certain populations,” she said. Learn more here about potential bias in financial aid practices and policies. The Chronicle of Higher Education will allow for a limited number of free article per month,

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