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2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (April 20, 2016): Keeping tabs on higher education debates

2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (April 20, 2016)

Keeping time (because who is counting?): 201 days until Election Day, 88 days until the Republican National Convention in Cleveland; 95 days until the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia… Millennial Memo here with your weekly 2016 roundup. Share this week’s memo with your friends and colleagues, follow us on Twitter, and sign up for updates here.

CLINTON GOES LOCAL ON ED FUNDING IN THE BLUEGRASS STATE:Hillary Clinton has jumped into the feud between Kentucky’s Republican governor and Democratic attorney general over funding cuts to higher education. The Democratic presidential front-runner’s campaign released a statement Tuesday saying Gov. Matt Bevin‘s $41 million cuts to colleges and universities are ‘shortsighted, wrong and may, in fact, be illegal.’ Attorney General Andy Beshear filed a lawsuit Monday challenging Bevin’s authority to chop the budgets without approval from the legislature. Bevin has said cuts are necessary to pay down the state’s pension debt. Clinton’s policy adviser Ann O’Leary wrote that ‘filling budget shortfalls on the backs of students and their families puts our future at risk.’ … Kentucky’s Democratic presidential primary is May 17.” (Associated Press)

STATE OF THE MILLENNIAL WORKFORCE: Feast your eyes on YI’s new state Millennial workforce backgrounders here.

PROFESSOR ON GOV. KASICH’S MID-BIENNIUM BUDGET HIGHER ED REFORMS: University of Cincinnati Professor John McNay wrote in the Cincinnati Enquirer this week: “While the mid-biennium budget proposals recently offered by Gov. John Kasich for higher education budget “reform” may seem constructive and innocuous, some serious unintended consequences appear not even to have been recognized, much less addressed… In trying to make higher education less expensive, we must not unintentionally cheapen it. There is too much emphasis on degrees, and not enough on education. We want – and the people of Ohio deserve – opportunity and quality in higher education, not simply degree production. State officials must critically reexamine this direction.”

INSIDE HIGHER ED SAYS CLINTON CAMPAIGN BUNDLERS LOBBIED FOR FOR-PROFIT COLLEGE PARENT COMPANY: “Several campaign bundlers who have raised money for Clinton’s current run have worked as lobbyists for the Apollo Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix. Republicans, who have been far more supportive of the for-profit education industry, have criticized Hillary Clinton’s position on for-profit colleges as hypocritical given her ties to Laureate… On the campaign trail, Clinton rhetorically has been sounding all the right notes for critics of for-profit colleges. Her higher education platform says she would ‘strengthen’ the Obama administration’s new regulations aimed at cracking down on for-profit colleges and expand support for federal agencies that pursue ‘law-breaking for-profits.’ And her platform calls for bringing ‘integrity to online learning,’ which is a delivery form of higher education that many for-profit companies use, as do nonprofits. Clinton directly criticized for-profit colleges in one of her first campaign events last year. And both she and rival Bernie Sanders have called for billions of dollars in new federal spending on public colleges and universities, including community colleges, which often compete directly with for-profit institutions.” (Inside Higher Ed)

OBAMA ADMIN TO EASE PROCESS OF FORGIVING $7.7 BILLION FOR BORROWERS WITH A TOTAL & PERMANENT DISABILITY: “The Obama administration plans to forgive $7.7 billion in federal student loans held by nearly 400,000 permanently disabled Americans. By law, anyone with a severe disability is eligible to have the government discharge their federal student loans. The administration took steps four years ago to make the process easier by letting people who are totally and permanently disabled use their Social Security designation to apply for a discharge, but few took advantage. The Department of Education is now taking it upon itself to identify eligible borrowers and guide them through the steps to discharge their loans…  Working with the Social Security Administration, the department has been identifying borrowers receiving disability payments and have the specific designation of ‘Medical Improvement Not Expected,’ which indicates they are eligible for the discharge. The agencies found 387,000 matches in its first review. About 179,000 of those people are currently in default on their loans, putting them at risk of losing their tax refunds and having their Social Security benefits garnished.” (The Washington Post)


CAMPUS CHILD CARE BILL GETS A BOOST FROM HOUSE MEMBERS LOOKING FOR A PROMOTION: In the past week, Reps. Chris Van Hollen, Donna Edwards, and Patrick Murphy all signed on as co-sponsors of Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s recently dropped Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) expansion bill [H.R. 4681]. (GovTrack)

ARIZONA–McCAIN DECRIES HIGH TUITION, CALLS FOR EXPANDING ONLINE DEGREE AND JUNIOR COLLEGE OPTIONS: “McCain recognizes the problems with the rising cost of tuition but wants students to remember that education and tuition is up to the state government. Even though there is no one right answer to the tuition debate, he believes the solution involves competition and alternative ways to receive degrees, such as online degrees and junior colleges. ‘We should put publicity on some of these institutions that have this continuation of inflation associated with this cost of education,’ McCain says. ‘We should not be saddling young people with debts that takes them years and years to pay off. It impacts their lives for years after they’re educated. We’ve got to put the brakes on the rising cost of education. It far outstrips the inflation. And so we are going to have to work hard on that.’” (State Press)

NEVADA–CORTEZ MASTO UNVEILS VETERANS STEERING COMMITTEE, SPOTLIGHTS HISTORY OF CRACKING DOWN ON SCHOOLS THAT TAKE ADVANTAGE OF VETERANS: Cortez Masto’s Veterans Steering Committee will advise the campaign on policy issues important to veterans and conduct outreach to other veterans in the state. The press release announcing the Committee notes: “Along with 21 Attorneys General, Cortez Masto advocated for Congress to stop for-profit colleges from preying on veterans seeking higher education after their service – specifically schools targeting some of the most vulnerable veterans who suffer from debilitating traumatic brain injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder.” Read the full release here.

NORTH CAROLINA–ROSS HEDGES WHEN ASKED WHOSE COLLEGE APPROACH [BERNIE OR HILLARY’S] SHE FAVORS: “High college prices kill choices, a group of students attending college, community college and high school told Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Deborah Ross [last] Thursday at Wake Forest University… Student loans affect the whole family as debt accumulated from attending college can be crushing, they said. And the debt can affect choices later on, such as buying a house, starting a family or starting a business… Ross said that college affordability is a priority for her though she stopped short of providing specific proposals. Asked after the meeting which of the two Democratic presidential candidates — Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton — had better proposals, she said: ‘All the plans are better than what is going on right now in Congress.’ Ross also referred favorably to proposals that she said have been made in the Senate, such as ‘refinancing student loan debt, cracking down on private for-profit colleges that don’t have accreditation and providing initial free community colleges.’ ‘Let’s start where we can start and build as far as we can go,’ Ross said.” (Winston-Salem Journal)

NORTH CAROLINA–BURR ACCUSES ROSS OF NOT HAVING POLICY IDEAS TO MAKE COLLEGE AFFORDABLE: Following Ross’s trip to Wake Forest, on Monday of this week, @Burrforsenate sent the following tweet:

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OHIO–PORTMAN SPONSORS BIPARTISAN BILL TO EXEMPT BORROWERS FROM TAX LIABILITY FOR FORGIVEN STUDENT LOANS: “A bill introduced by a bipartisan group of senators [last] Thursday is looking to change that for some by getting rid of the tax liability for families who have student loan debt wiped away after the death of their child and for borrowers who have their debts discharged because of a disability. The bill comes days after the Obama administration announced it would alert nearly 400,000 borrowers that they’re eligible for total and permanent disability discharge of their student loans, a provision that allows borrowers to get rid of their debt when they can’t work because of a disability. The Department of Education said it would send letters to the 387,000 borrowers it identified, offering them a streamlined path toward loan forgiveness, and said they would also get information about the tax consequences of forgiving the debt… The legislation introduced by Coons, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) doesn’t address the tax liability of debt forgiven under income-driven plans.” (MarketWatch)

OHIO–PORTMAN USES SNAPCHAT TO TARGET OHIO STATE STUDENTS: “Sen. Rob Portman’s campaign is going full 21 st century for Saturday’s spring football game, putting two Snapchat ‘geofilters’ around Ohio Stadium for the game. Geofilters are overlays that Snapchat allows users to put on their pictures to communicate where and when the pictures were taken. One filter will allow users around ‘The Shoe’ to show support for Portman, an Ohio Republican. The other will be used to criticize former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland’s record as governor. Both filters will be active for the entire day. The effort is part of a larger one to woo Ohio State students to back Portman, who is hoping to win a second term in November.” (Columbus Dispatch)

PENNSYLVANIA–McGINTY HITS TOOMEY FOR STUDENT LOAN REFINANCING VOTE: Speaking at a Democratic primary debate last week, Katie McGinty said: “I have sat down with families struggling with college tuition debt, now not just the students, but the parents who have taken out the parents PLUS loans… We have in Senator Pat Toomey somebody who has voted against… middle class tax cuts to afford college, has voted against enabling people to refinance their student loans.” (WGAL)

WISCONSIN–FEINGOLD HITS JOHNSON FOR “FREE MONEY” STUDENT LOAN COMMENTS: “Feingold criticized Johnson and other Republicans for what he said is a lack of support for affordable higher education. He then talked about the $28,000 average student debt that college graduates now have. Feingold also claimed Johnson has said college students ‘like’ racking up student debt, because they see it as ‘free money.’ ‘No they don’t. They consider it scary,’ Feingold said.” (GazetteXtra)