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Obama proposes Pell grant boost during overall spending freeze

President Barack Obama's $3.8 trillion budget blueprint for 2011, released Monday, proposes a $17 billion increase to the Pell Grant program, the main federal program to aid low-income students, which would expand the program's rolls by a million students.

The budget also proposes to increase the maximum annual grant from $5,350 to $5,710. The higher grants and expanded eligibility would almost double the overall spending on grants from $18.2 billion in the 2008 fiscal year to $34.8 billion, according to Inside Higher Ed.

The administration also proposes to make Pell grants an entitlement, making the program's funding mandatory so that every qualifying student is guaranteed a grant every year, according to the budget.

The budget includes a three-year spending freeze on non-security discretionary spending, and identifies 126 duplicative, ineffective or outdated programs to terminate or reduce — but proposes to increase overall education spending by $2.9 billion or 6.2 percent, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag said in a White House press release.

Burglary at Columbia compromises 1,400 Social Security numbers

An office break-in at Columbia resulted in the release of the Social Security numbers of about 1,400 people, the Columbia Daily Spectator reported Friday.

Three password-protected laptops that held the Social Security numbers of more than 1,000 current and prospective students, past and current employees and alumni were stolen, Columbia spokesperson Robert Hornsby wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.

Affected individuals were notified of the incident by e-mail and regular mail, and have been offered identity theft protection services, Hornsby wrote.

The New York City Police Department and Columbia Public Safety are conducting an investigation of the crime, he wrote.

NYU bans smoking within 15 feet of all entrances

New York University will prohibit smoking around university building entrances and ventilators beginning next fall, NYU spokesperson John Beckman wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.

The amendment to the current smoking policy — which bans smoking in all university buildings — was adopted after the Office of Compliance received about 2,000 responses to an e-mail describing the proposal last October, Beckman wrote. About 80 percent of the e-mails were "supportive," and "some people asked us to go farther," he wrote.

The proposal came about after a lit cigarette butt started a fire in a library stairway, Beckman wrote. It was also prompted by faculty and student complaints about cigarette smoke that traveled into office and dormitory spaces, sometimes through outside air vents, he added.

Though NYU public safety officers will remind smokers of the stricter restriction, enforcement will depend largely on compliance from smokers, Beckman wrote.

"Once the (no smoking) signs are up, I suspect there are members of the NYU community who may take it upon themselves to remind smokers of the policy," he wrote.

Smoking is banned in Brown residential and dining facilities, according to the smoking guidelines for Brown facilities.


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