New Report from Young Invincibles: A Blueprint for Higher Education Equity

March 1, 2017
Contact: Sarah Schultz,, 202-734-6510

New Report from Young Invincibles: A Blueprint for Higher Education Equity

An in-depth look at why race remains a barrier to degree attainment and what we can do to begin closing the gaps

[Washington, D.C.] — Today, Young Invincibles released its latest report, Race & Ethnicity as a Barrier to Opportunity: A Blueprint for Higher Education Equity. The report takes an in-depth look at the disproportionate challenges students of color face to achieving higher education attainment. The findings show that while overall attainment has increased for Black and Latino students, the attainment gaps between these groups and their white peers have actually widened in the last thirty years. Today’s economy increasingly demands a high quality postsecondary education to be competitive in the workforce, making these disparities troubling. Young Invincibles looked critically at the key stages of students’ higher education experiences – affording and accessing school, completing a quality education, and repaying their loans – to reveal the unique barriers faced at each. A few of the key findings include:

  • Access and Affordability: Even after financial aid, Black and Latino families dedicate 48 and 31 percent of their income to the cost of college, respectively, compared to only 24 percent for white families.
  • Attainment and Success: In 2015, just over 36 percent of white adults had completed four years of school. Black and Latino adults’ attainment rate sat at roughly 22 and 15 percent. These gaps have grown wider in the last thirty years.
  • Repayment and Outcomes: Four years after graduating with a bachelor’s degree, Latino students are twice as likely to have defaulted on their loans, while African American students are three and a half times more likely than white peers.

“We’re on track to be a majority-minority nation in our lifetime, yet right now our higher education system is leaving behind the very people our nation’s economy will soon rely on to lead us into the future,” said Christopher Nellum, Ph.D., Policy Director for Young Invincibles. “Insufficient public policy and institutional practices are failing to level the playing field for young people of color. We need interventions and solutions that will close racial opportunity gaps, in turn providing better income and financial stability for young people of color and our nation’s economy.”

In the report, Young Invincibles makes a series of federal policy recommendations to begin closing these gaps, including how to give students the tools and support they need to access college, complete a degree, and manage student loan debt. These solutions include: establishing and expanding protections for students against predatory colleges, improving financial aid systems such as federal work study and Pell grants, and simplifying the loan repayment process.

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Governor Rauner’s FY2018 Budget Funds MAP but Falls Short on True Investment in Higher Education

Yesterday, Governor Rauner released his Fiscal Year 2018 budget. Erin Steva, Midwest Director of Young Invincibles, released the statement below in response:

“We applaud the recommendation to increase Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant funding by 10 percent. Funding shortages have forced 160,000 eligible students to go without aid each year, and expanding MAP grant funding will provide critical relief to Illinois’ highest need students.

This is a critical down payment, yet much more is needed to support students from low-income families and to reverse the rapid disinvestment that has left Illinois’ higher education system starving for resources. MAP grants covered 100 percent of tuition and fees in 2002, but now only fund 46 percent of costs at four-year community colleges and 32 percent of costs at public universities.

Ultimately supporting low-income students will require a deeper investment in our higher education system as a whole. This year’s budget would cut higher education funding by over $270 million relative to FY15, additional cuts that will devastate our already resource-starved institutions. Over a decade of state disinvestment has caused tuition increases, faculty layoffs, and students to leave for out-of-state schooling. Illinois must make higher education a priority and back that commitment with meaningful investment that restores funding for the current fiscal year and brings higher education funding to pre-recession levels for FY18.”

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Young Invincibles Expresses Deep Concern Over Confirmation of DeVos as Secretary of Education

February 7, 2017
CONTACT: Sarah Schultz, sarah.schultz@younginvincibles.org202-734-6510

[WASHINGTON] - Earlier today, Betsy DeVos was narrowly confirmed as the 11th United States Secretary of Education after Vice President Pence voted to confirm, breaking a 50-50 tie. After the vote, Rory O’Sullivan, Young Invincibles’ Deputy Director, released the following statement:

“As we were throughout her confirmation process, Young Invincibles remains seriously concerned about Mrs. DeVos serving as the Secretary of the Department of Education, namely due to her lack of clarity and commitment to issues concerning Millennials and higher education. In her hearing and on-record responses, Mrs. Devos failed to address how she would stop the staggering increases in student debt, whether she would protect Pell grants and other forms of student aid, how she would use data to help students and families make more informed college choices, and how she would assist millions of student loan borrowers struggling with a complex system and unmanageable monthly payments. We simply do not know what she stands for. Moreover, Mrs. DeVos would not commit to enforcing existing consumer protections like the gainful employment and borrower defense rules, which are the only guardrails against predatory schools who target veterans and hardworking students, subsisting almost entirely on taxpayer dollars.

In a time when over 40 million borrowers are grappling with 1.3 trillion dollars of growing student debt, the Secretary of Education must be prepared to prioritize these issues, for the sake of not only today’s students, but the future of the country. Young Invincibles stands ready to advocate for our generation’s affordable access to quality higher education, and will do all we can to demonstrate to Secretary DeVos the importance of these issues in the months to come.”

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Postpartum Depression and the Economic Growth of Young Texas Families

Postpartum depression is the most common complication of childbirth and can affect families in a range of ways, including in terms of health, family stability, and economic security. Nearly 15% of women in the United States will experience postpartum depression (PPD) symptoms,ii but that rate rises to 17% for Texas women.

The condition can occur up to a year after delivery but is also frequently observable during pregnancy—which is why the condition is sometimes referred to as perinatal or maternal depression—and can include anxiety, difficulty performing daily tasks, sleeplessness, acute feelings of guilt, and major depressive episodes.

Texas lawmakers have taken positive steps to increase access to supports for those coping with PPD, but given the pressing need, further improvements remain critical. To read more about addressing postpartum depression in Texas, please read the full brief: Postpartum Depression and the Economic Growth of Young Texas Families.


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January 2017 Monthly Jobs Analysis


The young adult unemployment rate increased slightly to 6.5 percent, in January (seasonally adjusted), up from 6.3 percent in December. About 51,000 new young adults entered the workforce, which can cause the unemployment rate to increase. The number of unemployed also increased and by a larger margin than new young adults in the workforce. The young adult unemployment rate continues to persist at higher rates that the national unemployment rate, which also increased slightly  from 4.7 percent up to 4.8 percent.

The unemployment rate grew for young Latinos, African Americans, and Asian or Pacific Islanders over the month (though these are not seasonally adjusted). Notably, the rate for Asian or Pacific Islander young adults doubled, from 2.7 percent to 5.5 percent.

The workforce has largely recovered  since the Great Recession, as reflected by stronger employment rates, but new research published by Young Invincibles last month demonstrated longer-term structural problems for today’s young adults. Millennials today earn lower incomes, own houses at lower rates, and have amassed fewer assets and wealth than Boomers had when they were the same age in 1989.,This highlights that increased employment is just one piece of the puzzle needed to get this generation of young people back on track.

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Young Invincibles Delivers Testimony at New York State Workforce Hearing

January 25, 2017
CONTACT: Sarah Schultz, sarah.schultz@younginvincibles.org202-734-6510

[Albany, New York] — Today, Kevin Stump, Northeast Director of Young Invincibles, will deliver testimony at the New York State Legislative Workforce Budget Hearing. Please find his full testimony here. It underscores the critical need for training and skills development among New York’s disadvantaged young adult population. Young adults in New York age 16-24 face a stubbornly high unemployment rate of 15 percent. In particular, Kevin’s testimony focuses on the need to repurpose the Urban Youth Jobs Program–a flawed tax credit that does nothing to train up young adults and offer ways the state can better use that money.

Young Invincibles recently released a report examining the Urban Youth Jobs Program, state’s single largest youth jobs investment, demonstrating that the program does not meaningfully impact employer behavior. It also recommends how to reallocate funding to a number of other state programs, including apprenticeships. Please find the full report here: Sounding the Alarm: New York’s Young Adult Unemployment Crisis & The Need for State-Based Reforms.

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Young Invincibles Delivers Testimony at New York State Legislative Higher Education Hearing

January 24, 2017
CONTACT: Sarah Schultz, sarah.schultz@younginvincibles.org202-734-6510

[Albany, New York] — Today, Kevin Stump, Northeast Director of Young Invincibles, delivered testimony at the New York State Legislative Higher Education Hearing. Please find his full testimony here. It highlights the need for policies that reach young people in New York with the least access and means for making it through the state’s higher education system. He discusses how current proposals in the FY-2018 plan, particularly the Excelsior Scholarship, show strong committment to higher education but currently exclude and penalize part-time, working, low-income students. Moreover, the Governor has not included any Maintenance of Effort funding to ensure institutions can maintain high quality education without being crushed by costs increases (like inflation or energy).

He also discusses shortfalls of New York’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and urges the legislature to increase maximum TAP. The current FY-2018 budget proposes five more years of annual $250 tuition hikes and does not increase  TAP awards. It also force New York’s public universities to pay for the unfunded tuition credit mandate, which has cost CUNY more than $180 million since 2012.

In New York, student loan debt more than doubled during the last decade, growing to $82 billion from $39 billion, an increase of 112 percent with an average debt holder owing $32,200, $2,000 more than the national average. We are pleased that legislators on both sides of the aisle have a lot of questions around full-time criteria, part-time students, and contradictory tuition hikes.

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Young Invincibles’ Preliminary Response to Governor Cuomo’s FY-2018 Executive Budget

January 19, 2017
CONTACT: Sarah Schultz,, 202-734-6510

[New York] — On Tuesday night, New York State Governor Cuomo released his FY-2018 Executive Budget. To read Young Invincibles’ full analysis of the budget, please click here. Kevin Stump, Northeast Director of Young Invincibles, released the below statement in response:

  “Governor Cuomo just released the latest executive budget, which has the opportunity to direct much needed funding to programs that help young adult New Yorkers get the education and skills they so badly want and need to enter our state’s economy. With more than 15 percent of 16-to-24-year-olds unemployed and looking for work, this could translate to a potential loss of about $8.8 billion in earnings to New Yorkers over the course of the next decade–the stakes are too high to get it wrong.

The Governor is also proposing to double down on the state’s marquee youth employment program – the $50 million New York Youth Jobs small dollar tax credit for employers – despite evidence suggesting employers don’t find it effective and would rather see investments in training to skill up tomorrow’s workforce.

We are excited by the increased funding Governor Cuomo’s budget dedicates to supporting young adults, but see improvements that must be made to truly support this population in the longterm. The Governor’s plan to make college more affordable through the Excelsior Scholarship is laudable, but we have serious concerns with details of the current proposal that would exclude and penalize part-time, working, low-income students. Additionally the Governor’s budget proposes another five years of unaffordable annual $250 tuition hikes to SUNY and CUNY students who don’t qualify, and provides no “Maintenance of Effort” funding to ensure schools can keep up high quality programs.

We hope that these vital funding streams will continue to be bolstered but also be directed to those programs that provide quality opportunities for young people. With most jobs today requiring a post-secondary education, and with poverty and unemployment rates for young adults across the state remain high, it’s critical that the final budget deal invests in strategies we know work.”

To read Young Invincibles’ full analysis underscoring the unmet needs of young adult New Yorkers, especially SUNY and CUNY students and those entering the workforce, please click here: YI FY-2018 New York State Budget Analysis.

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Young Invincibles Voices Serious Concerns Over Secretary of Education Nominee Betsy DeVos

January 19, 2017
CONTACT: Sarah Schultz,, 202-734-6510

[WASHINGTON] — During Tuesday night’s confirmation hearing, Secretary of Education-Designate Betsy DeVos took questions from the members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on a host of issues related to education in America.

Young Invincibles’ Deputy Director, Rory O Sullivan, released the following statement in reaction to the hearing:

“Despite hours of rigorous questioning, Mrs. DeVos’ positions on a host of issues vital to today’s students and borrowers remain woefully unclear at best or outright harmful at worst. She failed to articulate clear stances on crucial questions like how to address the staggering increases in student debt, whether she would protect Pell grants and other forms of student aid, and how to assist millions of student loan borrowers struggling with a complex system and unmanageable monthly payments.  Beyond these critical policy concerns, when asked about combating “waste, fraud, and abuse” by predatory schools, Mrs. DeVos would not commit to enforcing existing rules like the gainful employment rule. Neither could she say clearly who would be in charge of any enforcement efforts should she be confirmed as Secretary.

In a time when over 40 million borrowers are grappling with 1.3 trillion dollars of growing student debt, a Secretary of Education without an agenda or even an opinion on issues that affect millions of students and borrowers is a major cause for concern. We are seriously apprehensive about the nomination of Secretary-Designate DeVos.”



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December Jobs Report: Young Adult Unemployment Lowest Since May 2007

The unemployment rate for young adults fell to 6.3 percent in December 2016,  its lowest point in nearly a decade. Last week’s report is the final jobs report of the Obama administration, which oversaw a volatile workforce that significantly impacted young adults. A few notable points:

  • Young adults suffered from 54 straight months of double-digit unemployment rates between January 2009, when President Obama first took office, to June 2013.
  • Young adult unemployment reached its height at 13.3 percent in April 2010.
  • Last month’s rate of 6.3 percent is the lowest the rate has been since May 2007.

This graph below tracks the unemployment rate among young adults and the workforce generally over the last decade. It also highlights the weak jobs market President Obama inherited from the Great Recession and the slow recovery through his administration. the Recession (yellow area) officially began in December 2007, over a year before Obama took office and continued for at least six months into his presidency. The green indicates an overlap of both the recession and the Obama administration (remember how yellow and blue make green?). Starting with the recovery in June 2009, the unemployment rate for young adults steadily declined to last month’s historic low.


Taking a closer look at the most recent unemployment rates for December of last year, we see that despite overall gains, that young African Americans still suffer from the highest unemployment rates, double the rate overall, at ten percent. Young Latino adults also have higher rates at 7.3 percent. Young Asian or Pacific Islander adults had the lowest unemployment rates at 2.7 percent.

image01While the jobs market has generally recovered from the Great Recession in the short-term, last week Young Invincibles released new research analyzing long-term declines in financial security, which show that  today’s Millennials earn lower incomes, own homes at lower rates, and have amassed fewer assets and wealth than Baby Boomers when they were the same age.

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