A Millennial Agenda for Illinois

Click here to download the full report: A Millennial Agenda for Illinois.

The NextGen Illinois project is an initiative of Young Invincibles and the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network, in collaboration with dozens of other Illinois organizations, designed to activate young people to shape a unique policy agenda for the state of Illinois. Young adult voices are frequently overlooked in state-level political conversations, and the NextGen project aims to strengthen the youth voice by elevating shared political priorities.

From June to September of 2014, we met with young people from across Illinois and hosted discussions and town halls on campuses, in classrooms, and in bars to gather policy ideas. Over 700 young people, ages 14 to 34, participated in discussions about Illinois’ biggest policy challenges such as education, jobs, and health care. Participants also tackled important reform questions around political corruption, money in politics, and fair elections.

On September 27, hundreds of NextGen Illinois participants came together at a state convention to vote on some of the best ideas that young people contributed throughout the process and created a cohesive 10-item agenda for Illinois.

Here you will find the resulting agenda, containing the top 10 ideas supported by young people from all over the state. We have included a brief analysis of each policy and information on how you can help move these policies forward.

Next Gen IL

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The Case for Payroll Withholding: Preventing Student Loan Defaults With Automatic Income-Based Repayment

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A Federal Work Study Reform Agenda to Better Serve Low-Income Students

Decades ago, a young person could graduate from high school, join a company, and receive all the training on the job that she or he needed for a successful career. Today, the world is different. A young man with only a high school diploma now earns 75 cents on the inflation-adjusted dollar his father made in 1980. Even worse, a brutal recession and sluggish recovery has young people confronting double-digit unemployment rates. Fierce competition for entry-level positions requires our generation to not only acquire post-secondary education, but also gain on-the-job experience and skills. Approximately 79 percent of employers expect real-world experience from college graduates when they evaluate potential hires. Unfortunately, our higher education system is not built to meet this need, particularly for low-income students.

An updated Federal Work Study (FWS) program could help a great deal. Congress created FWS in 1964 as a part of the Economic Opportunity Act to allow low-income students to defer college costs by working while enrolled. In 2011-2012, the Department of Education allocated $972 million to over 3,000 schools, serving slightly more than 700,000 students. However, FWS could be more effective at serving those in need of financial support. Only 16 percent of institutions awarded Federal Work Study to every eligible student. During 2011-2012, only 16.4 percent of dependent students whose families make less than $20,000 received FWS aid, while 8.2 percent of dependent students with family incomes over $100,000 received FWS aid.

This report recommends reforming Federal Work Study to better serve low-income students working their way through school, and providing them with experience and skills for today’s economy.

Click here to download A Federal Work Study Reform Agenda to Better Serve Low-Income Students.

Federal Work Study Reform Agenda Sept 18_Page_01

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Tax-Exempt Borrowing at Postsecondary Institutions: How Reforming Tax-Exempt Bonds Can Improve Student Outcomes and Save the Government Money

Click here to read the full report: Tax-Exempt Borrowing at Postsecondary Institutions: How Reforming Tax-Exempt Bonds Can Improve Student Outcomes
and Save the Government Money

Click here to download the Report Summary

NEW REPORT: Young Invincibles Finds that Tax-Exempt Bonds Issued by Postsecondary Institutions Result in Excess Government Spending, Calls on Congress to Support Cost-efficient Alternative and Reinvest Savings in Pell Grants

For far too long, the federal government has done the right thing in the wrong way. The federal government spends billions of dollars in forgone revenue each year to support the construction and renovation of dormitories, athletic facilities, and other capital projects that many colleges and universities fund using tax-exempt bonds. Unfortunately, this practice is inefficient, costing the government more than the amount postsecondary institutions save by using tax-exempt bonds. The design of tax-exempt bonds also makes it difficult to ensure that one hundred percent of the federal subsidy goes to support students and schools meeting basic quality standards. We propose the policy solutions below as a way to make bonds work better for schools, students, and the federal government. Please contact Jennifer Wang, our Policy and Advocacy Manger, at jennifer.wang@younginvincibles.org as we would love to discuss our findings with you in more detail.

Our findings …

  • Tax-exempt bonds issued by postsecondary institutions could cost the federal government nearly $18.2 billion between 2013 and 2017.
  • Tax-exempt borrowing is poorly targeted. Only about 80% of the federal government’s expenditure on tax-exempt bonds benefits state and local governments. High marginal-tax rate investors capture the remaining 20%.
  • Under current policy, postsecondary institutions can issue tax-exempt bonds regardless of how well they are preparing their students for academic and professional success.
  • Redesigned tax credit bonds could deliver the same benefit to schools at a lower cost to the federal government than using tax-exempt bonds.

Our Recommendations…

Redesign and improve the way the government helps schools borrow. The federal government should replace tax-exempt bonds for postsecondary institutions with redesigned direct pay tax credit bonds. These redesigned bonds will allow the government greater control over who benefits from federally subsidized borrowing. Tax-credit bonds will make the government’s cost equal to, but not greater than, the savings enjoyed by schools. This change will save the government and taxpayers money.

Eliminate subsidies entirely to extremely low performing institutions.

Schools that do not meet basic quality assurance standards in the areas of Pell freshmen enrollment, graduation rates, and student loan default rates should not have access to federally subsidized borrowing until they do the work to get better.

Invest Savings into the Federal Pell Grant Program.

Studies show that grants increase a student’s likelihood of completing college more than loans. A student’s level of unmet financial need also impacts college completion rates. As a program that addresses both of these issues, the Pell Grant Program is an ideal destination for government savings and a strong driver of educational advancement.

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Report: Young Adults More Likely to Qualify for Special Enrollment

Young adults are more likely to experience life events that trigger special enrollment periods than any other age group in the United States.

Read our full report here:

Young Adults More Likely to Qualify for Special Enrollment

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Issue Brief: Young LGBTQ Adults and the ACA

How does the Affordable Care Act impact young LGBTQ adults? You’d be surprised!

Click here to download the full brief.

When you’re finished getting all the details, check out our infographic!

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Automatic for the Borrower: Repayment Based on Income Can Reduce Student Loan Defaults

Click here to read: Automatic for the Borrower:

Repayment Based on Income Can Reduce Student Loan Defaults.

Click here to read a Report Summary

This paper is the culmination of work by a consortium of five student-aid advocacy and research organizations – HCM Strategists, the Institute for Higher Education Policy, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), New America, and Young Invincibles – with assistance from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Committee for Economic Development, the National Campus Leadership Council, and the National College Access Network. The proposals contained in this paper reflect research conducted by and discussions between members of the consortium. However, not all proposals included in this paper are supported by all groups in the consortium. Financial support for this research was provided by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through the Reimagining Aid Design and Delivery (RADD) project.

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Borrower in Distress: A Survey on the Impact of Private Student Loans

For most, a college degree is a path to economic security. These days, that path is bumpy for many, and leads to years of indebtedness that delay steps into adulthood that were once a given – buying a home, buying a car, starting a family. For some, it gets worse: that path turns into a dead end of debt and distress.  Recently, the Federal Reserve of New York released data demonstrating that student loan debt is constraining this generation from participating in broader economic activities such as purchasing homes and cars.1  During the housing boom, homeownership among student debtors was actually 4 percentage points higher than among non-student debtors. Homeownership rates fell across the board during the recession – 30 year-olds with no student debt saw their homeownership rates decline by 5 percentage points – but 30 year-olds with student debt fell more than 10 percentage points. The homeownership rate for student debtors is now almost 2 percentage points lower than for non-debtors.

Click here to read the full report.

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Don’t Double Our Rates

Congress should be helping to keep college affordable, not making it more expensive for student loan borrowers to pay for college


Unless Congress acts decisively, the interest rate on new Federal Subsidized Stafford student loans will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1, 2013. A 2007 college affordability plan gradually reduced the interest rate from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent through 2012, when the rate was scheduled to revert to 6.8 percent. Last year, in the midst of the election cycle, motivated primarily by sluggish economic conditions, President Obama and the Congress led the successful effort to extend the low 3.4 percent rate for one more year.

Students have already suffered from a variety of aid restrictions and limitations that resulted in students contributing $4.6 billion to deficit reduction.

Since the federal government makes 36 cents on every dollar loaned, increasing interest rates simply increases the government’s profits from students.

We need to overhaul the student loan system so it is equitable to all borrowers. Such a comprehensive approach will take  and must provide ample opportunity for participation by borrowers and the general public.

Click here to read the full issue brief.

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A Fight for the Future: Education, Job Training, and the Fiscal Showdown

During the twentieth century, the United States raised living standards by creating the best-educated workforce in the world. The nation’s success rested on local, state and federal investment in high quality, universal primary and secondary schooling, coupled with affordable higher education. But public invest- ment is now on the decline. Over the last decade, funding for education fell as a share of total public spending. Meanwhile, rising tuition pushes college out of reach for millions of young people. Education is fundamentally connected to jobs, which is currently the top priority for most Americans. Yet, the federal government has also cut major training programs for disadvantaged youth at the same time that the Great Recession wiped out an estimated 2.7 million jobs held by young adults. Together these factors have created a perfect storm of reduced opportunity for America’s young people. Click here to read more.

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