By Jennifer Liberto, CNNMoney
Washington (CNNMoney) - The House on Wednesday approved a bipartisan that ensures lower interest rates on loans for students heading to college this fall.
Members of the House voted 392 to 31 to lower rates for undergraduates taking out government loans this school year to 3.86% - cheaper than the 6.8% interest rate that kicked in on July 1. The new rates would be retroactive and apply to loans taken out after July 1.
The bill, which passed the Senate last week, will now go to the President Obama's desk to be signed into law.
It has provisions for rates to go higher in coming years.
By Angela Johnson
New York (CNN Money) - As children across the country start getting ready to say goodbye to summer, 17 states are preparing to offer shoppers tax breaks on back-to-school items.
The tax savings could amount to anywhere from 4% to 7% on everything from crayons to computers.
That savings could come in handy. Economic uncertainty, unemployment and a recent surge in gas prices are forcing parents to focus on necessities this school year, says Matthew Shay, chief executive of the National Retail Federation. Still, families with school-aged children are expected to spend an average of $635 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics during this year's back-to-school shopping season, down from $688 last year, the industry trade group found.
Before heading to the stores, shoppers in the states where these temporary breaks are being offered should research which items are tax exempt and the restrictions that apply, said Carol Kokinis-Graves, senior state tax analyst at CCH, a global provider of accounting and audit information.
In Florida, for example, clothing that costs less than $75 qualifies. But any item that costs more than that amount does not. Want a personal computer? You can get a tax break in Florida, but only if you opt for something that costs less than $750 - not that MacBook Air you may have been eying.
If you gotta' have that top-end Mac, try Missouri or North Carolina; those two states are offering breaks on computers worth up to $3,500.
(CNN) - A University of Southern California student said she reported a rape, and was told police won't pursue a case because the alleged rapist didn't orgasm. Another student said she was raped by her former boyfriend, and the campus brushed it off. The university says it takes sexual violence seriously, that it investigates cases and takes disciplinary action, but it's no replacement for the Los Angeles Police Department. Students have now formed the Student Coalition Against Rape, and the U.S. Department of Education is looking into how the university is handling cases of sexual violence.
It's not the first campus that has faced criticism in recent years for how it handled rape; the U.S. Department of Education has opened investigations into several universities.
By Harmeet Shah Singh, CNN
New Delhi (CNN) - The headmistress of the Indian school that authorities say served toxic lunches, killing 23 students, was arrested Wednesday, police said.
Meena Kumari, 36, was taken into custody on her way to a court where she had gone to surrender herself, police Superintendent Sujeet Kumar told CNN. She will be questioned Wednesday and taken before the court Thursday, he said.
Authorities had been working to track down Kumari, who had been at large since the July 16 incident.
The whereabouts of her husband, who is not named as an accused person in the case, are still not known, Kumar added. Police want to question him in connection with the case.
Pesticides have been found in the food and oil used in the school lunch that sickened 25 others in northern India's Bihar state, police said.
By Jennifer Liberto, CNNMoney
Washington (CNNMoney) –The Senate on Wednesday approved a bipartisan deal that ensures lower interest rates on loans for students heading to college this fall.
Senators voted 81 to 18 to lower interest rates for undergraduates taking out government loans this school year to 3.86% - cheaper than the 6.8% interest rate that kicked in on July 1. The new rates would be retroactive and apply to loans taken out after July 1.
However, the bill has provisions for rates to go higher in coming years. It is expected to become law, with support from the White House and the House of Representatives, which will likely take up the bill in coming days.
"This fall, all undergraduates, subsidized or unsubsidized, would only have to pay 3.86% interest rate for the life of the loan," said Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, whose support was key to a Washington deal. "That means real savings for borrowers."
It doesn't apply to loans that students get from private lenders. It only affects Stafford loans, which are made by the U.S. government to help finance a college education. Students can apply through their university financial aid office. The loans are limited to no more than $5,500, for a mix of subsidized and unsubsidized loans for the freshmen year and $7,500 for juniors and above.
On July 1, the interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans doubled from 3.4% to 6.8%.
(CNN) - Long-time New Yorker staff writer Malcolm Gladwell, "a football fan" and author of "The Tipping Point" and "Outliers," tells Fareed Zakaria that college football is similar to dog-fighting, allowing young men to smash into each other despite known neurological consequences: "The idea that as a culture we would be absolutely quick and sure about coming to the moral boiling point over the notion that you would do this to dogs and yet completely blind to the notion you would do this to young men is, to my mind, astonishing."
Gladwell says the sport should be banned, and that students and donors should boycott it.
"What has to happen for this crusade to work...is for one prominent school has got to drop the sport," he said. "That school has got to be, it's got to be Harvard or Penn or the great prize of Stanford...if Stanford walked away, I think that it would put a dagger in the heart of college football."
Share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter @CNNschools
By Harmeet Shah Singh and Tom Watkins, CNN
Partna, India (CNN) - A week after an Indian school served toxic food to students, leaving 23 dead, its headmistress remains missing along with her husband, police said Tuesday. A nine-member team of officers has been formed to investigate and track down the principal, Meena Kumari, police superintendent Sujeet Kumar said.
Police presence is heavy in the village in Bihar state, especially around the principal's home.
Authorities have recorded statements from 40 witnesses, including child survivors of the July 16 food poisoning, Kumar said.
Residents went on a rampage a day after the toxic meals were served in the local government school, torching at least four police cars.
In acts of protest, parents of at least three children have buried their kids near the school - one right in front of the building, according to officials.
Police will ensure the headmistress' safety when she resurfaces or is taken into custody for questioning, authorities said.
Pesticides have been found in the food and oil used in the school lunch that sickened 25 others on July 16 in northern India's Bihar state, police said.
(CNN) - The Indian government has encouraged more children to attend school by offering free lunches to students. Most are prepared in individual kitchens; they rely on rice provided by the government and other foods that cost only a few cents per student. After dozens of children were sickened or killed by pesticides in school lunch, CNN's Sumnima Udas visited an Indian school kitchen to see how the meals are made, and why they continue to draw more students to classrooms.
By Harmeet Shah Singh and Tom Watkins, CNN
Patna, India (CNN) - Pesticides have been found in the food and oil used in a free school lunch that killed 23 students and sickened 25 others on Tuesday in northern India's Bihar state, police said Saturday.
Forensic scientists found monocrotophos, an organophosphorus compound used as an insecticide, "in the samples of oil from the container, food remains on the platter and mixture of rice with vegetables in an aluminum utensil," Assistant Director General Ravinder Kumar told reporters in Patna.
Monocrotophos, which is used for agricultural purposes, is toxic to humans.
An administrative inquiry has pointed to negligence by the school headmistress in supervising food preparation for the children, Bihar state's midday meal director R. Lakshamanan told CNN on Friday.
The cook, Manju Devi, was hospitalized after eating the food she prepared, doctors said.
Devi told police that the headmistress, Meena Kumari, did not heed her warning that the mustard oil used to prepare Tuesday's lunch looked and smelled bad and instead insisted that she continue preparing the meal, Lakshmanan said, citing the inquiry report.
Police told CNN that investigators were trying to find Kumari to question her.
The investigation found compromised hygiene and sanitation in the school, which was running from a single-room makeshift building, he added.
(CNN) - This summer marks the 41st anniversary of Title IX, the federal civil rights law that banned discrimination based on gender in federally funded education. "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance," it states. Title IX is 37 words, and 41 years later, it continues to affect education opportunity, greater participation of women in athletics and equal opportunity in learning environments. Learn about the women who had a hand in and benefited from Title IX, and how it changed America.