Better Data to Build Better Career Pathways

By Maggie Jo Buchanan, Southern Director

Last Friday, the Texas Legislature passed a bill (SB 1119) to bring more transparency to the state’s work-study program and help improve career pathways for participating students. As the bill makes its way to the Governor, it is important to recognize the valuable insight this bill will bring to the students who participate in the program.

In less than five years, more than 60 percent of all jobs in Texas will require some sort of post-secondary education. At the same time, employers nationwide have been forced to reduce training time for new employees and cut back on entry-level positions. Last year, to better understand the impact of this trend, Young Invincibles completed the “Young Texas Works Jobs Tour,” a series of conversations with over 250 young people across our state on their experiences completing their degrees and entering the workforce.

Throughout the tour, we heard young adults illustrate the reality of our changing economy: Many expressed their struggles balancing the hours of paid work they needed to cover their bills and tuition with the hours they needed to keep their grades on track for graduation and to remain eligible for financial aid. One student told us: “At some point [when trying to balance work in school], even in the beginning you can manage, but as you move forward in your career and your studies, it’s harder and harder to be able to keep your job.”

Many of the young people we work with, however, identify the Texas Work–Study Program as an important avenue for them to tackle this education–experience paradox. But before SB 1119, the only information the state was required to provide was a biannual report on the employers in the program—nothing on participating students.

The bill requires that the report be made annual and include:

  • Demographic information;
  • The program of study and majors;
  • Class-year designations; and
  • Enrollment as a full-time or part-time student of all participants.

This new data will help us better ensure the TWSP is helping young Texans gain career-relevant experience. By identifying how students’ programs of study and majors compare to the participating employers, for example, we will be able to identify gaps and misalignments in opportunities. And, if certain students are being underserved by the program—for example, students in certain class years or degree programs—we can help ensure targeted, appropriate outreach to those who may benefit most from work-study.

In 1979, a student working a minimum-wage job could earn enough in one day to pay for one academic credit hour. Today, it would take 60 hours of minimum wage work for a student to accomplish the same. The Texas Work–Study Program is a valuable tool in helping students keep their heads above water, and by ensuring we better understand the young adults participating in the program as well as the employers doing the same, we will have a clearer picture of what our next steps should be.

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Preliminary Trump Education Budget Threatens Millennials’ Ability to Obtain Higher Education

May 17, 2017
Contact: Sarah Schultz,, 202.734.6510

Today, the Washington Post reported on a preliminary version of the Trump Administration’s education budget, expected to be finalized and released next week. The budget slashes $9.2B from the Department of Education, allocating 13.6 percent less than the budget Congress approved just last month. This cut includes programs that serve millions of students by allowing them to access and complete higher education.

Reid Setzer, Young Invincibles’ Director of Government Affairs released the below statement on the reported budget cuts:

“This proposal would place more obstacles in front of students by cutting federal financial aid, on-campus supports, and reducing opportunities to gain skills, thereby making completing a credential that much harder. The President has claimed he wants to “take steps to help students” address their student debt, but this budget would do the exact opposite.”

Pell Grants –

The reported budget would leave the maximum Pell Grant amount frozen and stagnant, further eroding its purchasing power for the nearly 8 million low- and moderate-income students that rely on it. The original Trump Administration “skinny budget” also included 3.9 billion in cuts to Pell, which further reporting indicates is still included in the full budget. While the budget contains positive language about Year-Round Pell, that program was reinstated by the recent budget deal and does not need new funding to operate. However, cutting money from Pell imperils the stability of the program and will make it harder to maintain Year-Round Pell, a bipartisan achievement.


The reported budget zeroes out the $15 million CCAMPIS program, which helps low-income parents in college afford on-campus childcare. One in four students are parents, and they take on more debt and have to juggle more responsibility than other students. Young parents should be able to pursue their degree without worrying about the safety and health of their children. Eliminating funding for this program fails to support parents who are working to make a better life for their families.

Career and Technical Education –

The reported budget cuts career and technical education (CTE) by $168 million, down 15 percent compared to current funding. CTE is vital for both students and employers because it teaches young people valuable, in-demand skills that employers need and provides hands-on training. President Trump claims his priority is strengthening our economy, but cutting CTE weakens our current and future workforce by cutting off access to marketable skills. This proposal comes as House Democrats and Republicans are working together on improving access to CTE.

Federal Work Study –

The reported budget nearly halves the amount of funding for the Federal Work Study program, cutting $490 million. Work study helps students pay for the cost of tuition and attendance and gain valuable work experience while enrolled. The vast majority of employers today expect real-world experience from college graduates when they evaluate potential hires, and simply cutting this program walks away from a golden opportunity to discuss how it can work better for low-income students and provide more diverse employment opportunities for those enrolled.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness -

The reported budget would end the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which at least over 550,000 borrowers are signed up for and reliant upon for loan relief, with millions more eligible. Teachers, counselors, social workers, public defenders, medical professionals and other public servants are filling essential jobs in communities nationwide. Eliminating the program could have damaging effects to both rural and urban communities alike, and increase the indebtedness of our generation, to the detriment of the American economy.

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Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act Would Modernize & Improve the Program

May 16, 2017
Contact: Sarah Schultz,, 202.734.6510

[WASHINGTON]- Today, a bicameral group of US Senators and Representatives introduced the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act, a bill that would strengthen and expand the nation’s flagship college affordability grant program. The Pell Grant helps almost 8 million low- and moderate-income students afford higher education annually, and has done so for over fifty years. This comprehensive bill from Senators Murray (D-WA) and Hirono (D-HI) and Representatives Scott (D-VA), S. Davis (D-CA), with 10 additional co-sponsors, would put the program on firm financial footing by shifting it to mandatory funding, expanding eligibility for the program, and improving the purchasing power of Pell by boosting the award. It builds upon several existing proposals from other Congressional offices, and Young Invincibles is happy to support the bill.

Young Invincibles’ Government Affairs Director, Reid Setzer added: “This proposal modernizes and expands the Pell Grant to make it more responsive to the 21st century student. Pell currently does not reflect the true cost of college, making it difficult for today’s students to complete a degree without taking on significant debt. This proposal helps combat this trend by increasing the maximum Pell Grant award and pegging future awards to inflation. Equally important, this bill would take Pell off the chopping block by shifting funding from discretionary to mandatory spending, giving students and families the assurance that Pell will be there when deciding how to pay for college. This proposal also opens doors to higher education for millions of new students to prepare them for jobs in today’s workforce, including DREAMers, people who are incarcerated, and previously defrauded students, among others. Investing in America’s future is critical to help grow the economy, and modernizing Pell to reflect the needs of today’s students and workforce is one of the best ways Congress can do just that.”

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Young Invincibles Expresses Support for College Transparency Act of 2017

May 15, 2017
Contact: Sarah Schultz,, 202.734.6510

[Washington DC]- Today, a bipartisan group of US Senators introduced the College Transparency Act of 2017, a bill that would modernize our higher education data infrastructure by providing much needed outcomes information, while safeguarding student privacy and security. The bill from Senators Cassidy (R-LA), Hatch (R-UT), Warren (D-MA) and Whitehouse (D-RI) would ensure that vital metrics, including program-level graduation rates, loan repayment rates and job outcomes, are available to students. Those metrics would also be disaggregated by race, ethnicity, and Pell-status, among other crucial data sets.

The bill will simultaneously protect student privacy by explicitly prohibiting collecting student health records, disciplinary history, immigration status or national origin, or religion. The bill also restricts how other federal agencies can access and use the system, and prohibits using the system to take action against an individual student. Young Invincibles is happy to support the College Transparency Act, and urges the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to take up the bill.

Young Invincibles’ Government Affairs Director Reid Setzer added, “This bill would create a secure postsecondary data system that would benefit policymakers, institutions, and most importantly, students. Currently, students and their families are left in the dark when it comes to accessing basic information on whether students attending specific schools and enrolled in specific programs succeed. For example, we don’t have a clear, complete picture of how many students in a certain program graduate, get a job in the field they studied, or if they are able to pay back their loans. This bill will enable students and families to make better informed decisions, ease the burden on colleges and universities, and give policymakers a better idea of how taxpayer dollars should be invested. The bill also takes impressive measures to protect sensitive personal information, which we know is critically important to today’s students.”

Daniel Niersbach, President of the Indiana University Student Association, expressed support for the bill: “The current student record ban doesn’t empower our youth to make the right choices for themselves when it comes to higher education. Rather, it forces them to take chances and chase assumptions, when major investments are on the line. The Indiana University Student Association is in support of the College Transparency Act of 2017 because students need and deserve more accurate, accessible, and comprehensive information regarding one of the most important decisions of their lives.”

Sammy Geisinger, Executive Director of the Association of Big 10 Students said: “When I was searching for schools, information about the outcomes of majors or programs was hard to come by. Even as an enrolled student, I’m curious about job prospects and the career path that I’ve chosen and want to know how other graduates from my school are doing in the workforce. We spend a lot of time and money on college, and this data system will help students make more informed decisions on how to plan their educations and careers.”

The bill would achieve many of the principles laid out in the Student Agenda for Postsecondary Data Reform, a collection of student asks signed on by organizations representing over one million students.  We enthusiastically endorse these provisions for their role in protecting student privacy.

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Upton Amendment Breaks GOP Promise on Pre-Existing Condition Protections

May 3, 2017

Contact: Sarah Schultz,, 202.734.6510

Upton Amendment Does Not Protect People with Pre-Existing Conditions

[WASHINGTON]–A new amendment from Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) was announced today. Rep. Upton’s amendment would add a measly $8 billion to an already insufficient $130 billion fund to absorb higher costs people with pre-existing conditions would pay under the American Health Care Act. Young Invincibles’ Executive Director Jen Mishory issued the following statement on the new amendment:

“Congressman Upton’s amendment does nothing to fix a terrible bill that will make young adult uninsurance rates skyrocket, guts benefits, and increases out of pocket costs. This bill breaks Republicans’ fundamental promise to protect people with pre-existing conditions. It’s bad for young people and bad for the country.”


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Department of Education Needs to Provide Guidance on PSLF Eligibility

April 7, 2017
Contact: Sarah Schultz,, 202-734-6510

[Washington] – Recently, the Department of Education stated in a legal filing that borrowers may not be able to rely on a determination made by their student loan servicer regarding their eligibility for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Under PSLF, workers in public service jobs can qualify for student loan forgiveness after making 120 qualifying payments on their loans.

While relevant statutes make clear that certain employers, such as government and 501(c)3 jobs, automatically qualify, the eligibility of employment at other non-profit organizations remains unclear. A pending legal case focuses on nonprofit organizations not specified in statute that servicers had previously said qualified for the program. As the New York Times recently reported, the Department has yet to provide any further guidance to workers or indicate if there will be any type of appeal process for those who have had their eligible status revoked.

Borrowers rely on the representations made by servicers to manage their loan payments, and eroding their ability to trust what they are being told, regardless of their place of employment, could have serious negative consequences.

Reid Setzer, Deputy Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs for Young Invincibles, released the following comment in response:

“The Department’s lack of clarity regarding the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is putting the financial security of thousands of young adults across the country at risk. These workers have relied on their servicer’s determination that their employment qualifies them for forgiveness under the PSLF program, and have planned their finances and career decisions accordingly. The Department must provide clear guidance on which employers qualify workers for loan forgiveness and honor previous determinations that borrowers relied upon.”

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YI Hails Efforts to Protect Federal Student Aid

April 5, 2017
Contact: Sarah Schultz,, 202-734-6510

YI Hails Efforts to Protect Federal Student Aid

[Washington]- Today, over 570 higher education stakeholders sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to protect the federal student loan program and strengthen Pell Grants, the nation’s most important investment in higher education.

The letter has support from a broad swath of organizations including higher education institutional associations, state university systems, colleges, civil rights organizations, youth advocacy groups, and student advocacy groups, all deeply concerned about recent proposals to dramatically cut or eliminate federal student aid programs. These cuts would hurt America’s workforce and limit access to higher education for millions of people.

Reid Setzer, Young Invincibles’ Deputy Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, released the following statement:

“The letter is a show of force from the higher education community because these aid programs are so essential to millions of students across the country and must be protected. Cutting funding for these programs means narrowing access to higher education and removing vital supports that help students complete their degrees. They are absolutely necessary to give young people the ability to get the skills needed to contribute to today’s economy. We and our partners are prepared to fight for them in the face of potentially devastating cuts.”

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Trump’s “Skinny” Budget Makes Deep Cuts to Higher Education and Job Programs

March 16, 2017
Contacts: Sarah Schultz

Trump’s “Skinny” Budget Makes Deep Cuts to Higher Education and Job Programs

Today, the Trump Administration released its FY18 “skinny” budget, which deeply harms young adults’ economic security and drastically limits their access to higher education.

Reid Setzer, Young Invincibles’  Deputy Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs released the following statement:

“The Trump administration’s FY18 budget makes severe cuts to higher education, far deeper than any recently proposed. This includes slashing almost 4 billion dollars from the Pell Grant program, which helps nearly 8 million low- and moderate-income students access and afford college. This cut is fiscally irresponsible and will accelerate potential budget shortfalls in the program, as well as increase the financial burden on millions of young people buried under student debt. The budget also ignores bipartisan proposals to improve the program and lessen that burden, including reinstating Year-Round Pell.

Additionally, the Trump administration’s budget dramatically cuts funding for Federal Work Study, TRIO, and GEAR UP,  as well as eliminating the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant program all together. These programs, which open up access and support systems for low- and moderate-income students, have had decades of support from Congress, colleges, and higher education stakeholders. This is a clear indication that this administration is not committed to expanding opportunity or improving equity, especially for students of color.

The budget also makes vague cuts to job training and employment service grants and would eliminate AmeriCorps, further limiting options for young people looking to find work or serve their country. In an age where  a postsecondary degree or credential is necessary for achieving financial security, young people need pathways to quality education, training, and marketable skills to achieve the American dream. This budget cruelly pushes it farther away. We can and must do better, and call upon Congress to reject this vision for America’s future.”

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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 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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