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This Week in Higher Ed

•The Supreme Court will consider whether the federal government can seize a person's Social Security payments to pay off student loan debts that are at least a decade old. Justices agreed to hear an appeal by James Lockhart, a disabled man who says he needs his monthly check to pay for food and medication. The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the U.S. Department of Education, which wants to seize his Social Security checks. •The Supreme Court will consider whether the federal government can seize a person's Social Security payments to pay off student loan debts that are at least a decade old. Justices agreed to hear an appeal by James Lockhart, a disabled man who says he needs his monthly check to pay for food and medication. The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the U.S. Department of Education, which wants to seize his Social Security checks. The case hinges on a pair of congressional statutes that send mixed messages as to whether Social Security payments are shielded: the Debt Collection Act and the Higher Education Act, or HEA. When Congress passed the HEA in 1991, it eliminated the 10-year time limit on the government's right to seek repayment on defaulted student loans by seizing payments to individuals. However, the Debt Collection Act created an exception to that rule for Social Security payments. Congress eventually amended that law to allow the seizure of Social Security payments, but then left intact—either inadvertently or not—a separate provision that continued to set a 10-year time limit. (The Washington Post/Associated Press, 4/25/05)

•The filmmaker Michael Moore has established a scholarship for students who defy the administration at California State University—the same institution that cancelled his talk last year. Moore, who directed the anti-George Bush polemic Fahrenheit 9/11, has set up the Michael Moore Freedom of Speech Scholarship, which will award two $2,500 annual scholarships to students at CSU “who have done the most to fight for issues of student rights by standing up to the administration.” (The Guardian, 4/25/05)