#ItsOurInterest Student Loan Video Contest

If you could potentially save hundreds on your student loans, what would you use that savings for?

Senator Warren introduced a bill that would allow student lenders to refinance their loans, lower their interest rates, and save on student loan payments. Imagine what you could do with the money you save!

We’re inviting you to tell your student debt story! Here’s how to do it:

  1. Record a short video (3 minutes max) answering the question above. Include your name, school you attended, and borrowed amount.
  2. Upload your video to YouTube or Instagram by May 28. Your video MUST include the hashtag #ItsOurInterest to qualify.
  3. Promote your video on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #ItsOurInterest.

Important dates

Submit your videos: May 15 – May 28
Voting begins: May 29 – June 5th
Winners announced: June 9th

Top three winners will receive $500!

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Obamacare’s special enrollment period could help youth signups

Washington Post 

By: Jason Millman

Obamacare open enrollment may finally be over, but the opportunities to sign up for coverage aren’t. Some people may qualify for special enrollment periods during the year, and a new analysis from a youth advocacy group shows these enrollment windows may benefit young adults the most.

The open enrollment period finally officially ended on Tuesday, after the Obama administration had provided people extra time to sign up if they said they previously experienced enrollment problems. In a few states and Washington, D.C., that enrollment deadline has been further extended until the end of April.

The health-care law allows for special enrollment periods between open enrollment for people within 60 days of experiencing a certain life event, such as having a baby, getting married, losing insurance coverage, moving to a different coverage area, getting released from jail and others. An analysis from Young Invincibles, a group supporting the Affordable Care Act, points out why young adults — a demographic crucial to the law’s success — could benefit more from the special enrollment window. Reasons include:

  • People ages 18 to 39 are twice as likely to be uninsured at some point during the year (34 percent) compared to those between 40-years-old and 64-years-old (17.9 percent), according to a 2009 Mathematica study.
  • 83 percent of new mothers are between 18 and 34 years old, according to the CDC.
  • An estimated 1.4 million marriages, mostly between young adults, will take place in the 7.5 months between April 1 and the Nov. 15 start of open enrollment.
  • Adults ages 20 to 29 moved at twice the national rate between 2011 and 2012.
  • About half of people leaving prison, based on 2012 data, are between 18 and 34.

The report outlines other special enrollment triggers, though not everyone will be eligible for the health insurance exchanges. For example, many of the young adults leaving prison, because of income, could qualify for Medicaid, which allows enrollment year-round.

A big question, though, is just how much awareness there will be of the special enrollment period. The major outreach effort focusing on young adults near the end of open enrollment in March has come to an end. We don’t have a final enrollment breakdown from HHS yet, but initial data from six states running their own insurance marketplaces showed just a modest bump in youth enrollment in March.

And while more people will become eligible for exchange coverage during thedow special enrollment win, some young adults already enrolled in exchanges will likely find coverage elsewhere during the same time. A report from California earlier this month found that about 20 percent of California exchange enrollees of all ages will likely get employer-sponsored coverage at some point this year, and another 20 percent would see their income drop to Medicaid eligibility levels.

Young Invincibles executive director Jen Mishory said her group is planning special enrollment outreach targeting college campuses and young mothers.

“We definitely don’t think the period to reach young people is over,” she said.

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The US Is Using Its Youth as a Credit Card

Vice News 

By: Mary O’Hara

On Monday, the US Congressional Budget Office, in releasing its ten-year projections for the Department of Education, revealed that the government is projected to profit from student loan debts over the next ten years — to the tune of $127 billion.

According to experts, that student-debt-financed revenue stream is unlikely to be spent on the struggling higher education system — where tuitions are skyrocketing and graduates are increasingly defaulting on their loans.

Instead, all that profit from student loans is expected to be allocated for general government spending, so that Uncle Sam could use interest payments collected from students to pay off the government’s debts.

That’s right: the government is using America’s youth as a credit card.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, speaking this past Saturday at Suffolk University LawSchool’s research symposium on student loans, demanded that the government eliminate profit from the federal student loan program.

“The idea that we would ever allow our student loan program to generate extra cash for the government is obscene,” Warren told the crowd, “We should be investing in students, not turning them into a profit center to pay for subsidies to big agribusiness or to meet the payments on defense contracts.”

The numbers involved are staggering: 38 million borrowers currently owe $1.1 trillion in student loan debt, according to American Student Assistance, a nonprofit organization promoting financial competencies in college students and alumni. Its 2013 report, “Life Delayed: The Impact of Student Debt on the Daily Lives of Young Americans,” estimated that the US government was set to pull in a profit of $34 billion in 2014 alone.

Paul Combe, the president of American Student Assistance, likened the growing burden of student loan debt to secondhand smoke: like cigarettes, loan debt used to be seen as a matter of individual risk — until it became clear that everyone’s economic health is affected by everyone else’s.

“It’s a problem for us all,” Combe told VICE News. “The question is, what is the impact on our economy when a third of the credit of all these students who graduate and are normally the consumers — who would otherwise buy homes and buy cars — is already eaten up by student loans?”

Combe was careful to point out that the congressional budget projection is a generous estimate, not a hard number: “I’m not saying there isn’t profit here, but [the projection assumes] that everyone’s going to pay back loans in ten years. It doesn’t factor in the cost to the government of holding those loans over years, and it doesn’t factor in the cost of collections.”

Regardless of the precise numbers, it’s pretty clear that the government is profiting off student loans — and that graduates are having a hard time paying them back.

A 2011 Institute for Higher Education Policy study on student loan delinquency showed that 41 percent of student borrowers who began repaying loan in 2005 couldn’t make loan payments at all — and wound up either becoming delinquent on their loans or defaulting entirely.

Granted, those student loan borrowers entered repayment when unemployment was peaking l — but almost half of them found it impossible to make any payments at all during their first few years out of school.

The situation was pithily summed up by Nobel prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, one of the nation’s most famous living economists, in the title of a 2013 New York Times opinion piece: “Student Debt and the Crushing of the American Dream.”

Jen Mishory, executive director of the national youth policy organization Young Invincibles, elaborated on this state of affairs in a statement, reacting to the budget report, emailed to VICE News.

“The government is profiting off students at a time when tuition and debt levels are skyrocketing,” wrote Mishory, “Borrowers are being forced to choose between paying student loans and making major life purchases like buying a car or a home. Enough is enough. Young people want to contribute to the economy, but policies like this one make it more difficult to afford college and earn a decent living.”

The American Student Assistance report revealed in survey results the stunning effects of student loan debt on graduates: 75 percent of those polled said student loan debt affected their ability to buy a home, 29 percent said it caused them to delay getting married, and 27 percent said it was difficult for them to buy daily necessities because of their student loans.

“The federal government should be working to protect borrowers, but instead it is making things worse for these borrowers by embedding huge profits in its student loan interest rates. A January GAO report estimates that the federal government will bring in $66 billion in profit on just one slice of the federal loans — those made between 2007 and 2012,” Warren said at the symposium.

The Senator called on the government to reinstate bankruptcy protections on student loans and allow loans to be refinanced — as is common practice with home mortgages — when interest rates drop so that borrowing students would not be locked into a needlessly high fixed interest rate for life — and wind up paying thousands of dollars in extraneous costs.

Combe told VICE News that Paul Ryan’s recently passed House budget for 2015 changed the way free college grants are funded: “The Pell Grants have been moved into a discretionary area, meaning their funding will be up in the air every year.”

“Right now, 65 percent of all student funding is in the form of loans,” said Combes. Now that the House has voted to freeze grants for the next ten years and leave their funding up for grabs, it would appear the government is forcing college students to borrow — which, in turn, increases the government’s take.

So does that mean the government is moving toward a higher education system funded entirely by loans — and loan debt that pays other government bills?

Combes said that could be the case: “Because of budgets and this sense of government funding of social programs being perceived as a negative, we’ve been slowly moving into that direction without looking at the consequences of it.”

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Mishory to Lead Young Invincibles

Politico Pulse 

By: Kyle Cheney

MISHORY TO LEAD YOUNG INVINCIBLES — Young Invincibles, the pro-Obamacare group working to sign up young adults in health care, has named Jen Mishory — the group’s deputy director — to succeed outgoing leader Aaron Smith. Smith, who now heads YI Advisors, a nonprofit, hailed Mishory as “the perfect choice to take Young Invincibles to the next level.”

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Mishory Upped at Young Invincibles

Politico Influence 

By: Byron Tau

MISHORY UPPED AT YOUNG INVINCIBLES: Jen Mishory has been promoted to executive director of the group Young Invincibles. She replaces Aaron Smith at the organization, which bills itself as a non-partisan nonprofit voice of 18- to 34-year-olds. She had previously served as deputy director of the group since its founding in 2009. Smith has moved on to a new venture,YI Advisors — an affiliated nonprofit consulting organization providing strategic advice to mission-aligned clients on how to engage young adults.

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Young can still get covered on exchanges

Politico Pulse

By: Kyle Cheney

REPORT: YOUNG CAN STILL GET COVERED ON EXCHANGES — The healthy 18-to-34-year-olds coveted by insurers are likelier to qualify to enroll in Obamacare exchanges outside the normal enrollment season than older people, according to a new report by Young Invincibles, a health care advocacy group. That’s because Obamacare provides enrollment opportunities for people who get married, change jobs or have babies — and they’re far likelier to fit into the young adult demographic. http://bit.ly/1jLdSYB

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College grads in Volusia, Flagler face challenges parents never did

Daytona Beach Journal-News

By: Lacey McLaughlin

Sharlatay Willis printed out a stack of resumes and hopped on her bike for another day of job searching. Taking care to prevent her gray dress slacks from getting tangled in her bike chain, the 23-year-old Bethune-Cookman University graduate peddled to a strip mall on Nova Road.

Willis introduced herself and handed her resume to managers at Family Dollar, Save-a-Lot, Burlington Coat Factory and Steak n’ Shake, but they all directed her to apply online where she worries her application will fall into a black hole.

The English major graduated in December with hopes of landing a job as a magazine writer or writing coach for students. But after months of dead ends and no reliable income, Willis said she would be happy to land a part-time service job.

“It gets kind of frustrating because I spent four years working so hard for a college degree and here I am struggling to find a retail job,” said Willis, who has $30,000 in student loans. “I wanted that dream job right out of college. I didn’t know it was going to be this hard.”

Lingering unemployment and student loan debt are creating additional worries for college graduates who are entering a job market that has fewer opportunities than previous generations. An analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York two years ago showed 44 percent of recent college graduates — age 22 to 27 — were working in jobs that did not require degrees.

While jobs reports point to a modest recovery and news of new development locally is encouraging, real wages remain stagnant and good jobs are hard to find. Investing in a college degree has traditionally led to higher long-term economic benefits, but the current economic climate raises questions about the financial future of millennials, especially for those like Willis who have degrees in low-demand majors, such as liberal arts and social sciences.

“There is an across-the-board issue here that has led graduates to take positions below what they are qualified for,” said Sean Snaith, an economist at the University of Central Florida. “Every year that you are working a retail job and not in a degree-related field is a year of experience and human capital that you can’t get back.”

Georgia native Jana Lott moved to Daytona Beach with her college roommate after graduating from St. Leo University on Florida’s west coast with a professional writing degree last May. She aspires to work for a publishing company, but after months of job searching she felt relieved when Kmart hired her for a cashier’s position in October.

Realizing that her 20-hour-a-week job won’t be enough to pay off $125,000 in student loans and cover her living expenses, the 23-year-old moved back home with her mother in Jacksonville when her lease ended this month. Lott said she had been applying for about 20 career-related jobs each week but has taken a break because she feels burned out.

“By the time I am 27, I hope to be working in my career field,” Lott said. “I have never looked at what I should be making. Money isn’t a huge factor to me. I just want to do something I enjoy.”

Research indicates that young adults like Lott may never financially catch up to college graduates who started their careers shortly after graduation.

A new report by the Young Invincibles, a post-recession youth advocacy group, predicts that each jobless worker age 18 to 24 accounts for $4,100 a year in forgone tax revenue and social benefits.

Young Invincibles Policy and Research Manager Tom Allison, who co-authored the report “No End in Sight? The Long-Term Youth Jobs Gap and What it Means for America,” said that the shrinking of middle-class jobs and the burden of student loans create economic barriers for many recent graduates. His organization is pushing for the U.S. Department of Education to release data that tracks college graduates and majors to show who’s getting hired and their starting salaries, in addition to pushing for legislation that would reduce college tuition rates.

“There is a national debate over whether a college degree is working or not,” Allis said. “On average, it completely is. You can expect a million dollars more in life-term earnings with a degree. But there needs to be a shift with transparency and accountability. There needs to be more of a demand from consumers to get a better idea of what the value of a degree is.”

Milestones like becoming a homeowner or reaching retirement are far from Lott’s current worries. She believes the right job is out there and it’s just a matter of time before she finds it.

“I have a lot of friends who get pressure from their parents to just take any job they can find,” Lott said. “I think some people get pushed into jobs they don’t want, and I’m not just going to take a job to get a paycheck.”

Willis, who is from Miami, started looking for jobs in November but said she seldom received a response from publications or schools. When her 20-hour-a-week job on campus ended upon graduation, Willis started looking for any job that would provide a steady income.

“I want to stay in Daytona and find a job. Back at home there’s a lot of trouble that I don’t want to get into and the area is bad when it comes to crime,” Willis said. “Once I get set financially, I hope to go further north and move to a bigger city.”

When she was younger, Willis said her parents pushed her to do well in school and go to college. Her mother, a school bus driver, and father, a car mechanic, told their daughter they wanted her to have more opportunities than they had.

Now Willis has $30,000 in student loans and is struggling to find an opportunity as good as her parents had. She said she is considering going to graduate school if she is unable to find a job in her field by next year but worries about piling up more debt.

Graduates with social science and liberal arts degrees are faring worse in this economy, but the job market has become more competitive as graduates face higher demands from employers, Snaith at UCF said.

In 2010, the national unemployment rate for recent college graduates was about 5 percent and that rate has now climbed to 7 percent. The Federal Reserve Bank study, however, points out that those with college degrees that provide technical training are more likely to be working in their field. For example, 75 percent of those with an engineering degree are working in a job that requires a college degree. The two majors with the lowest unemployment rates are health and education majors.

Willis supports herself through baby-sitting jobs and splits her meager living expenses with roommates. With her bike as her only form of transportation, she cycles to Bethune-Cookman’s campus in Daytona Beach from her Port Orange apartment during the week. On campus, she conducts online job searches and mentors students at the university’s writing center. She also bikes to retail stores along her route to pass out her resume and inquire about jobs.

Her search took a big setback recently when her cellphone fell out of her pocket on the ride home and was never recovered. With no money to replace the phone, Willis found an app that allows her to receive calls and text messages on a tablet, but she is often unable to receive voicemails and the reception is spotty. A missed call could be a missed opportunity.

“Either I am under-qualified for a lot of these jobs or I’m overqualified,” Willis said. “I think there are a lot of different aspects that aren’t giving me the opportunity I want. I feel like I have put a lot of work to get to where I am at and I’m going to have to keep putting in work.”

Willis still hasn’t gone on an interview despite applying for more than a dozen jobs. She is saving her baby-sitting money to pay $150 for a temporary teaching certificate so she can be eligible to work with students at local schools. As she continues to search for service jobs, Willis said she often worries about living so close to the edge. She can’t afford health insurance and receives food stamps to buy groceries. While she is optimistic about her future, the lack of responses from employers is starting to take its toll.

“It’s starting to feel draining because I’m not getting any responses,” she said. “It gets frustrating but I’m still pushing forward.”

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$1tn student debt crisis crushes home-buying dream

BBC News 

By: Beth McLeod

There are plenty of “For Sale” signs in the Philadelphia suburb where Michael Nealis lives with his wife, Jessica. They dream of owning a home and on learning they were expecting their first child, they approached a mortgage adviser.

“We were told immediately that no mortgage company would touch me with the amount of student loan debt that I have,” Mr Nealis says.

He studied for an undergraduate degree for four years and owes $64,000 (£38,138) in student loans. He is now a science teacher and Jessica works as a special needs assistant in a school.

‘Beyond frustrating’

But with stricter rules for mortgage lenders now in place following the sub-prime debt crisis, their debt-to-income ratio disqualifies them from a loan.

Student debt repayments account for around 45% of Mr Nealis’ monthly take-home pay, making it impossible, he says, to save for a deposit.

“It’s beyond frustrating,” he says. “We’re left in a situation where we can’t qualify for anything. I make a decent living but I don’t make enough to pay $1,200 a month in student loans.”

Housing market experts say that many young people are in the same situation, which is dampening demand for homes. First-time buyers have historically been the bedrock of the US housing market, accounting for around 40% of total sales.

Campaigns against high college costs, including this one in California in 2012, have been waged over the years, yet the price of a degree remains high

The latest figures from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) show that in February 2014 they only accounted for 28%.

NAR President Steve Brown said that in a recent consumer survey, 56% of younger buyers who took longer to save for a down payment identified student debt as the biggest obstacle.

“It’s clear there are other people who would like to buy a home that are not in the market because of debt issues, so we can expect a lingering impact of delayed home buying,” he said.

Levels of student debt have risen substantially in recent years. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, aggregate student loans nationwide have almost quadrupled in the past ten years, from $253bn at the end of 2003 to $1.08tn at the end of 2013.

It is now the second-highest form of consumer debt after mortgages, overtaking credit card borrowing and car loans. One of the main reasons is that the price of higher education is rising.

Between 2000-12 the average cost of four-year college tuition increased 44%. The rise was highest at public universities, which have traditionally provided a cheaper alternative to for-profit and private institutions.

Call for forgiveness

The income level of the average family has not kept pace, and so students are taking out more loans. The CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association, David Stevens, is worried by the trend.

“If the average college graduate has more student debt than we have ever seen the likes of before in this country, that has an extraordinarily dampening effect on their ability to buy a home,” he says.

“With housing making up a fifth of the gross domestic product of this country, that could have an adverse impact on the pace of the economic recovery.”

Many students are paying for college – and cannot afford to buy a house

He says that policymakers are starting to take note that student debt may be starting to drag down the economy.

“Some are calling for some form of debt forgiveness programme,” he says. “Some are discussing providing subsidies for young people to buy their first homes.”

Worth it?

There are also proposals in Congress to reset student loan interest rates and make debt refinancing easier, amid concerns that increasing numbers of graduates are unable to repay their loans back in time.

In 2003, 6.2% of borrowers were at least 90 days late making a payment. By 2013 that number had risen to 11.5%.

Research shows that having a university education does pay off in the long term; graduates have lower rates of unemployment and higher salaries. But Aaron Smith, who founded Young Invincibles to represent the interests of 18-34-year-olds, says people he speaks to are increasingly worried about the cost.

“There’s a lot of scepticism out there among young people about whether it’s worth going to college anymore,” he says. “They see their older brothers and sisters in huge amounts of debt and question whether they want to be in that position.”

He said that this could hinder social mobility in the US.

“One of the ways people from different spheres of our economic system moved up was by getting an education then being able to buy a house, which opened up a path to the middle class for millions of Americans,” he says. “That is becoming more of a distant reality for a lot of young people.”

Homeownership certainly seems a very distant dream for Mr Nealis.

“I thought I did everything right,” he says. “I had a blue-collar father, a work-from-home mother and I was trying to do better. But it seems that having got an education, I’m now in a situation worse than they were.”

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Roca-Pickett: Legislators should not alter coverage

Columbus Dispatch 

By: Rae Roca-Pickett

The legislature today will likely vote on House Bill 511, a measure that would lower the age at which dependent children in Ohio will be able to stay on their parents’ insurance plans from 28 to 26. That’s right, lower the age and thus reduce insurance coverage for the generation most likely to lack coverage.

Sponsor Barbara Sears, R-Toledo, said that the proposed changes would help clear up confusing differences between the Affordable Care Act and Ohio law. In reality, this bill would marginally help insurance companies and hurt young people and their families.

Reducing confusion simply does not justify cutting back on coverage for thousands of 26- and 27-year-olds. Enacting the bill would restrict choices that young people have to get covered.

I have spoken with young adults who rely on their parents’ plans for coverage, and have heard about how much this law has helped them as they go to school, look for employment and begin paying off student debt.

When I was 21, I imagined that by the time I was 27 I would have complete financial stability. Two months into my 30s, it seems funny and more than a little naïve. Many of my friends are unemployed or trying to figure out their career and educational pathways.

I cannot imagine having to worry about a chronic condition or managing through a serious injury during this period. I am so lucky that my invincibility lasted for two years until I found a job and employer-based insurance.

Today more than ever, 26- and 27-year-olds are struggling financially. The Great Recession hit our generation hard; millennials have seen double-digit unemployment. As a result, Ohioans between ages 25 and 34 are making $5,500 less today than they were earning in 2005. Furthermore, of those young adults in the state who are working, only 49 percent have full-time jobs, down from 57 percent in 2005.

The Buckeye State has been a leader in expanding coverage options. Young people can manage small differences in state and federal law — particularly when the state law is better — and state legislatures often opt to provide more than a federally mandated floor requires of them.

Legislators should vote no on House Bill 511 this week. And I hope one day, no young person ever has to live with the uncertainty of being uninsured like I did.

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American Consumer Credit Counseling Offers 30 Tips in 30 Days for Young Americans During National Financial Literacy Month

PR Web

Leading financial education nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling announced today the launch of “30 Tips in 30 Days” as part of the organization’s ongoing efforts to better prepare young Americans for college and independent living. According to a recent study by Sallie Mae, 84 percent of high school students desire more financial education, which is why during April’s National Financial Literacy Month, ACCC will focus its efforts on tackling some of the financial challenges facing younger generations.

“A number of recent studies have exposed the significant need to educate young consumers about the financial decisions they face when graduating high school and entering college,” said Steve Trumble, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling. “The findings of these studies, combined with the upward trajectory of college tuition and increased reliance on student loans inspired us to create the “30 Tips in 30 Days” financial literacy project. Knowing how to effectively save money and navigate day-to-day financial decisions during young adulthood ensures a financially healthy future.”

In addition to the growing desire among younger generations for additional financial education, many studies show the palpable need. According to a 2011 survey by Charles Schwab & Co., more than 75 percent of 16- to 18-year-olds say they are financially savvy; however, less than 20 percent are familiar with a 401(k) plan and only 32 percent understand how credit card interest and fees operate.

“Credit, money management, even opening a savings account for the first time can be overwhelming,” said Trumble. “But these are the necessary skills that young Americans need to understand if they want to develop better money management skills at a young age.”

The state of student loans in America is bleak. The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau reports that Americans have $1 trillion in total outstanding student loan debt and 14 percent of those with student loans possess at least one account with overdue charges. Further, two out of five student loan borrowers become delinquent after entering the first five years of their repayment period.

“It’s no secret that financial problems early in life can lead to financial difficulties in adulthood,” Trumble said. “We work with thousands of consumers each year to overcome significant debt and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say they wish they had developed better habits at a younger age, especially for those who are still paying off student loans well into their adulthood.”

A lack of financial literacy education leads to a myriad of problems for those who take out loans to attend college. A 2012 report by Young Invincibles found that about 65 percent of high-debt student loan borrowers did not clearly understand the student loan process and a 2012 study by Accounting Principals found that about one-third of recent graduates wished they had found more scholarships and financial aid options when entering college.

“We cannot stand idly by while our youth continue to navigate the journey between high school and college,” added Trumble. “With adequate information and education, high school students, college students and their parents can make informed decisions and ensure a stable financial future.”

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