Grammar: Clauses versus Phrases

Focus: Phrases and Clauses

What is a clause?

It is a complete sentence, meaning it has a subject and predicate.


What’s the formula for a clause?

Subject + Verb + Object


Can you give me an example of a clause?

Grammar Chimp smiles with his eyes. Grammar Chimp is my subject, smiles is my verb, and with his eyes is the object (the receiver of the message).


What is a phrase?

It is an incomplete sentence, meaning it has only a predicate.


Can you give me an example of a phrase?

Smiles with his eyes. Notice there is no subject, so it is an incomplete sentence.


op-ed: the early fafsa

“Failure is the tuition you pay for success.” – Walter Brunel

The early FAFSA has brought forth a litany of questions about how it will affect admissions deadlines, financial aid policies, and recruitment efforts.

The Change: The new FAFSA will use financial aid information from the past two years instead of only using the a family’s tax information from the preceding year.

New Submission Date:  Students can now submit the FAFSA earlier−on October 1st and continue to file until the next year.

Presently, the only qualification to obtain the grant is to be a citizen or an eligible non-citizen. In each case, a student must also have a high financial need, as determined by a family’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

However, excluded from this narrative, is how a student could barely pass high school and receive a full Pell grant. For the 2016–17 award year (July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017), the maximum award is $5,815, which is to divided between fall and spring semesters.

Working with different demographics, I have seen students who barely pass high school or who have recently emigrated to the United States, as an eligible non-citizen, receive full awards. In contrast, the lower middle-class student, with perfect grades, often times gets zilch.

FAFSA states that it has implemented the change to put “less pressure” on families who “won’t need to estimate” tax information. However, working in college admissions, the real reason may be to redress loopholes in the system.

For example, some families may list only one parent on the IRS tax form, with that specific parent claiming all the dependents in the family. In this manner, those who are generally seen as “too wealthy” by the federal government, which is determined by the family’s needs analysis, will get some aid.

Nonetheless, the implementation of the two-year rule may not fully curtail abuses. Families may still try to work the system, because the federal government has yet to solve the rising cost of education and the crippling student debt crisis.

Ultimately, the socioeconomic implications of the new FAFSA have yet to be foreseen. From an institutional perspective, universities may have to reevaluate deadlines, offers of admissions, and recruitment practices. From a student perspective, families are still not being informed about the true cost of college nor is the middle-class receiving the full scope of financial aid that they should be entitled to have.

If FAFSA truly wanted to rectify its policies and procedures, as the award has not increased relative to college costs, then it should institute a GPA restriction as well as a residency requirement of at least two years.

There will be much discussion about FAFSA, included within the larger debate about the high cost of college, as many answers are still unknown and will not be known till the early FAFSA has been fully instituted.


pedagogy: does working threaten college students’ academic success?

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin

There has been limited research on the experiences of traditional-aged students at urban, commuter schools. This particular population is more likely to have higher financial aid needs, and as a result, work more and participate in on-campus activities less.

Often times these students come from economically challenged families, are minorities, first-generation American, or are considered non-traditional students. In turn, they are less likely to know how or apply for financial aid, thus missing out on state and federal opportunities to fund their education.

Instead, turning to working more hours, these students’ grades are impacted. In a study published by the Journal of College Student Retention, a negative correlation between hours worked and students success was found. Since there is a statistically significant relationship between GPA and persistence, students are advised to ideally work no more than than 10-15 hours per week.

By examining the relationship between work and student success, further study is needed on socioeconomic equity and access to higher education. Colleges and universities need to better allocate their resources to serve students who are struggling with finances. And students need to be informed how  their choices affect their ability to successfully complete college.