Making the Most of Millennial Talent

Navigating today’s post-recession job market is daunting for many new graduates. Employers expect entry level hires to come with work experience, which often means taking an unpaid internship (or two, or three) for those lucky enough to be able to afford it. For the rest of our generation, it can be a real struggle moving from graduation into the workforce. Young workers without a degree beyond high school face even tougher prospects. It comes as no surprise that jobs and education are the top policy priorities among young voters.

The Lumina Foundation is leading an effort called #TalentTuesday designed to get people talking about the need for more Americans with education beyond high school. Our generation understands this challenge on a very personal level. We know the path to economic security runs through the doors of higher education, but face many barriers along the way. Here’s our take on what policymakers and employers can do to alleviate these challenges and ensure our generation reaches its full potential.

For the vast majority of our generation, the conversation about getting a degree after high school starts with affordability. As college costs have skyrocketed, students are graduating with ever high levels of debt. Currently the national the total now stands at $1.3 trillion. Tackling this problem requires making college more affordable for current students and alleviating the debt burden for borrowers. Our report Higher Education Promise for the 21st Century lays out our ideas on both fronts. The federal government should focus on increasing investment in Pell grants and encourage states to reverse major budget cuts to higher education. Simplifying the application process as well as the number of income-based repayment plans would ease repayment for millions.

The conversation, however, must go beyond debt and affordability. As we note above, our higher education system needs stronger connection to the 21st century workforce to meet the needs of students and employers. One option is reforming Federal Work Study, which currently provides work experience to students while assisting them with college costs. Congress should change the formula to reach more low-income and community college students while encouraging schools to do more to ensure that work-study positions serve as stepping stones to careers.

Solutions must also go beyond two- and four-year degrees. The best evidence suggests that quality apprenticeships offer young people an opportunity to learn marketable skills and get paid to do it. They also have the added benefit of zero student debt. Promising policy proposals moving through Congress include the LEAP Act, which offers tax credit incentives to employers who host apprenticeships for Millennials, and the PACE Act, which increases grant funding to higher education institutions that offer apprenticeships.

Employers have a role to play as well. To attract Millennial workers, employers should keep a couple things in mind. First, benefits that help workers repaying student loans will appeal to millions of recent graduates soon to face their first monthly loan payment. Second, our generation is motivated by more than simply financial rewards. More than half of young workers report that having a job where they could make an impact was important to their happiness. Business need to show how Millennial workers can make a difference in the world.

More than one out of three American workers are now Millennials. Millions more will join this month as they graduate from universities across the country. We’re a diverse generation of creators, leaders, and entrepreneurs whose influence is growing in statehouses and business throughout the country. We look forward to being part of the #TalentTuesday dialogue, and to working with policymakers, higher education, and business leaders to ensure our generation is ready for the 21st century workforce.

Rory O’Sullivan is the Deputy Director at Young Invincibles where he directs the organization’s policy and advocacy strategy. He is an expert in a variety of issues related to young adults including federal financial aid, skills acquisition, youth employment, health insurance coverage, and consumer information.

Share Button

FACT SHEET: FAFSA Simplification

The unnecessarily complicated application for Federal Student Aid is preventing some students from accessing the financial aid they are entitled to or in some cases from going to college all together. Students tell us all the time that the application process can be quite difficult to complete and can put a strain on their families. It doesn’t have to be this way. Click here to read Young Invincibles’ fact sheet on FAFSA simplification.

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 4.25.47 PM

Share Button

Student Loan Relief Act of 2015 Is a Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing


October 7, 2015

Contacts: Colin Seeberger,, 214.223.2913; Sarah Schultz,, 202.654.6501

Student Loan Relief Act of 2015 Is a Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing

[WASHINGTON]–Last week, U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced S. 2099, the Student Loan Relief Act of 2015, which would establish a mechanism for refinancing Federal student loans with non-public lenders.

Jennifer Wang, policy director of Young Invincibles, released the following statement in reaction to the legislation’s introduction:

The Student Loan Relief Act of 2015 is a wolf in sheep’s clothing — offering borrowers the chance to refinance at the expense of their consumer protections. Yes, borrowers should be able to refinance their loans just like mortgage or auto loan holders, but they shouldn’t have to give up their federal protections, like the right to repay their loans as a proportion of their income, or ability to put their loans into deferment or forbearance during tough economic times, in order to refinance.”

“Borrowers are also not the only ones threatened by this legislation. By steering borrowers into the private loan market via federally guaranteed loans, this bill privatizes profits made on the backs of students and families while placing the risk squarely on the taxpayer. A smarter approach would be to allow federal borrowers to bring their interest rates down while simultaneously preserving consumer protections.


Share Button

Testimony: Second Chance Pilot Program is Commonsense

On September 22, 2015, Young Invincibles testified before the New York City Council’s Higher Education Committee hearing on President Obama’s Second Chance Pilot Program, which will allow incarcerated youth to qualify for important college access lifelines like the Pell Grant. Please find a complete readout of Young Invincibles’ testimony here.

Share Button

Gainful-Employment Rule Survives For-Profit Group’s Court Challenge

“The U.S. Education Department’s gainful-employment rule is one step closer to taking effect. A federal judge on Tuesday rejected a serious legal challenge, brought by the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, to the controversial rule. The lobbying group’s lawsuit was the highest hurdle remaining for the proposed rule, which will judge career-oriented programs on their graduates’ ability to repay their student loans. The rule is slated to take effect on July 1.” Read more at the Chronicle of Higher Education by clicking here.

Share Button

Hillary Clinton Set to Unveil New Plan to Tackle Youth Unemployment

“At a forum Wednesday in South Carolina, Hillary Clinton will introduce a proposal that would offer businesses a $1,500 tax credit for every worker hired to a government-rated earn-and-learn apprenticeship. The program, meant to target stubbornly high unemployment rates among young Americans, would require apprentices to be registered with state or federal regulators, and make qualifying apprenticeship programs subject to standards and outcome measures, according to a senior campaign aide.” Read more at Policy Mic by clicking here.

Share Button

2016 Millennial Memo (May 27, 2015): Keeping tabs on higher education debates

2016 Millennial Memo (May 27, 2015)
530 days to go…

WALKER RESPONDS ON UW SYSTEM CUTS: From an interview with local interview WXOW reporter Ginna Roe, “When asked about his proposed $300 million in cuts to the UW System, Walker defended the cuts. ’2.5 percent, any of us I think can make an adjustment certainly in our businesses in our own homes. That’s all we’re talking about. 2.5 percent of the entire University of Wisconsin System budget.’ Walker said it’s a small amount when you consider the entirety of the UW System. ‘Four years ago, the same detractors said that education wasn’t going to work because of our reform. Four years later, graduation rates are higher, reading scores are higher, ACT scores are second best in the country,’ he said.”
WISCONSIN LAWMAKERS REJECT WALKER PROPOSAL TO AXE FOR-PROFIT COLLEGE REGULATORY BOARD: According to the Wisconsin State Journal‘s Dan Simmons, “The [Wisconsin] Legislature’s budget committee has rejected Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to do away with a small state agency that approves and regulates for-profit colleges. It’s a sign the Educational Approval Board will continue unchanged after being targeted for elimination since February.”

CHRISTIE DISCUSSES RECORD ON HIGHER ED INVESTMENT: At an event last month in Newmarket, N.H., Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) talked about increases in New Jersey’s state tuition aid grants for the last 3 years and $1.2 billion in capital improvements to the state’s universities as ways to keep tuition down. When asked whether that has helped tuition stay flat, Christie said, “Well, no, but it’s started to tick back down because we just started to make those investments last year. So we passed the bonds issue last year. So now the last year and a half, they have been building the buildings and I think that’s going to really help because they’ve had to do that all on their own for the last 25 years. I’m the first Governor in 25 years to invest in capital improvements in our colleges and universities.” (Video here.)

NEW REPORT FINDS NJ HIGHER ED FUNDING IS WAY DOWN, DEBT WAY UP:’s Adam Clark reports: “New Jersey’s ‘lackluster’ financial support of its colleges and universities has led to increased tuition, ballooning student debt and erosion in the quality of higher education, according to a new report. The state’s higher education funding has dropped by more 22 percent since 2008 when adjusted for inflation, a decrease of more than $2,150 per student, according to an analysis by New Jersey Policy Perspective, a Trenton-based public policy research group. Meanwhile, average four-year tuition costs in New Jersey grew by 23.7 percent between 2004 and 2013 while the average family income fell by 7.3 percent with inflation factored into both calculations. As a result, average student debt for New Jersey students rose by 40.5 percent when adjusted for inflation, the report said.”

DEM POLLSTER WEIGHS IN ON STUDENT DEBT: In an interview with the Washington Post’s Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, Democratic pollster Geoff Garin said “he thinks student debt is as important to millennials ‘war and peace issues’ were to baby boomers… it’s a crucial motivator to get younger people to vote… student debt is often the defining economic fact of their lives.”
HUCKABEE CONCERNED ABOUT IMPACT OF STUDENT DEBT ON HOUSING MARKET: In his first speech as an official candidate, Huckabee expressed concern about student debt’s affect on the housing market, “one-in-four American families is paying more than half their income for housing. Home ownership is at its lowest level in decades and young people with heavy student debt aren’t likely to afford their first home for a while.
TOP-ED OF THE WEEK: Low Cost College Isn’t Enough, by David Perry in last week’s CNN Opinion: “I hope that the cost of college becomes a major political issue. But let’s remember that low cost must be paired with high quality. High quality means providing good jobs for the people asked to prepare students for good jobs of their own. It means building educational structures with lots of face time, individualized education, and support systems for those new to learning. Otherwise, we can cut costs down to nothing, but we won’t help the people most in need. To fix higher ed, the focus on savings must be accompanied by a massive public reinvestment in teaching and advising.
CLINTON RECEIVED $225K FOR SPEECH FROM JEB BUSH-AFFILIATED ACADEMIC PARTNERSHIPS: Lee Fang reporting for the Intercept: “Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton received nearly a quarter of a million dollars last year for a speaking engagement on behalf of Academic Partnerships, a for-profit education company in which Jeb Bush held an ownership stake and on whose board he served. Clinton’s newly filed personal financial disclosure shows that she was paid $225,500 on March 24, 2014 by Academic Partnerships. At the invitation-only event in Dallas, Texas, Clinton reportedly said, “today a student doesn’t need to travel to Cambridge, Mass., or Cambridge, England, to get a world-class education.” Academic Partnerships assists universities in converting their academic degree programs into online versions that can be taken by students around the world.”
CHRISTIE PROMISES ANSWER ON BOOSTING PELL GRANTS, IF HE RUNS FOR PRESIDENT: At the same event, when asked whether he would support boosting investment in the Pell grant, which helps low-income students be able to afford college, Christie said, “Well, we’ll see. You know, if I decide to run for president, I’ll definitely answer that one.” (Video here.)
WARREN UNLOADS ON NEED TO REDUCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN INTEREST RATES: In an appearance last month on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), when discussing the need to lower student loan interest rates, “Why can’t we just say, ‘look, that’s not what we should be doing as a country.’ We should not say to kids, if your mom and dad can write a check for college, you pay this much for college, but if they can’t, you have got to pay a much higher rate because you have to pay more on your student loans.”
RAND ON REFI: At a “Disrupting Democracy” event with Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), hosted in San Francisco earlier this month by Lincoln Labs and Brigade, SF Weekly reports that “when asked about his opposition to a bill that would allow people to refinance their student loans, [Senator Paul] mocked the idea that college should be free, saying, ‘That’s ridiculous. That’s absurd.’” (SF Weekly)
RUBIO CALLS FOR OVERHAUL OF HIGHER ED SYSTEM; SPECIFICS YET TO COME: According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution‘s Greg Bluesmen, earlier this month, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) “told Georgia Republican delegates that he would overhaul the higher education system… Rubio told the crowd he would encourage more students to go into vocational fields and offer more pathways for non-traditional students to get college degrees. ‘We need competition in higher education. We need choices in higher education so that people who are working full time and also raising a family can receive a certificate.’”
RUBIO-WYDEN’S STUDENT-RIGHT-TO-KNOW-BEFORE-YOU-GO ACT GETS BIPARTISAN HOUSE INTRO: According to Inside Higher Ed: “Newly introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives would enable the linking of student-level enrollment information with data on employment and wages. The bipartisan bill would provide post-graduate earnings averages at both the institutional and academic program levels… It would make public these and other performance data about higher education by overturning the ban on a federal ‘student unit record’ system and freeing up existing, but currently unavailable information… Dubbed the ‘Student Right to Know Before You Go Act,’ it mirrors a companion bill that a bipartisan group of Senators previously introduced, including Marco Rubio.”
CLINTON SOUNDS THE ALARM ON INDEBTEDNESS: On the campaign trail in Mason City, Iowa last week, Clinton said: “We have got to make sure that college is affordable, and that cannot happen at the rate we are going unless we change the way we fund college education for young people who wish to have that experience. Many of us in this room, like I did, borrowed money to be able to college, but then we were able to pay it back because it wasn’t such an overwhelming burden as it has become now. The average student in Iowa graduates with $30,000 in debt and that then makes it very difficult for them to start a business, buy a new home, or even get married as one young man told me not so long ago. So we have to deal with the indebtedness to try to move toward making college as debt free as possible. I’m 100 percent behind President Obama’s proposal for free community college. We’ve got to try to get that through, and then we’ve got to try to do everything we can to make college available and affordable to all of our young people.” (C-SPAN)
MEASURING UP MILLENNIALS: A new Fox News poll of 1,006 registered voters conducted May 9-12, 2015 found some surprisingly close match-ups for Millennial voters’ support. Among those polled under 35, here are how the Republican candidates stack up against Hillary.
Clinton 45, Bush 43
Clinton 46, Cruz 43
Clinton 46, Rubio 40
Clinton 47, Walker 40
Clinton 48, Carson 40
Clinton 48, Kasich 38
Clinton 52, Fiorina 32
Clinton 47, Huckabee 42
Have someone you think should receive this blast? Have a tip? Write me at
Share Button

Young Invincibles’ Policy Director Jen Wang’s Testimony on Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act

Click here to read Young Invincibles’ Policy Director Jen Wang’s Testimony on Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, delivered on May 20, 2015.

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 10.07.34 AM

Share Button

New White House Report Highlights Need to Lower College Costs

May 7, 2015
Contact: Colin Seeberger,, 214.223.2913
Young Invincibles Lauds New White House Report Highlighting Need to Lower College Costs
[WASHINGTON]–Earlier today, the White House released a new report called Making College More Affordable for Millions of Americans, which looks at steps the President and Congress have taken to make college more affordable and what work still remains. The report also includes a state-by-state breakdown on Pell grant availability and number of recipients. Jen Mishory, Executive Director of Young Invincibles, released the following statement on the report’s release:
“For many young people, a college education is the gateway to finding a job and achieving economic security. With the cost of college and student debt having risen dramatically for this generation, we are pleased to see the Administration calling for additional reforms like the America’s College Promise to decrease costs in our higher education system.”
Share Button

New Report Looks at Unprecedented Challenges Facing Millennial Parents


April 29, 2015
Contacts: Colin Seeberger, colin.seeberger@younginvincibles.org214.223.2913

New Report Looks at Unprecedented Challenges Facing Millennial Parents
Report Finds More Than 1 in 5 Millennial Parents is in Poverty; Declining Wages, Rising Debt and Exploding Costs 
[WASHINGTON]–On Wednesday, Young Invincibles released a new report, Finding Time: Millennial Parents, Poverty, and Rising Costs, which looks at the driving forces behind rising poverty among Millennial parents, such as student loan debt, falling wages and the exploding cost of education and childcare.
The report finds, for example, that more than 1 in 5 Millennial parents is in poverty (a nearly 40 percent increase since the start of the new millennium) and that providing affordable childcare on college campuses, paid leave, and flexible and secure work scheduling could make a significant difference in supporting young parents.
“We know that the Great Recession ravaged many Millennials, but few have felt the strain more than today’s young parents,” said Konrad Mugglestone, author of Finding Time. “Failing to address the problems plaguing Millennial parents could have significant financial and social costs not only for this generation, but for the next.”
Already, we’re seeing young parents work a midnight shift at twice the rate of young non-parents. Changing job schedules is just one of many shifts happening across today’s workforce.
Share Button