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2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (August 10, 2016): Keeping tabs on higher education debates

2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (August 10, 2016)

Good Wednesday morning, folks! We’re just 89 days away from the general election. With back-to-school approaching and debates right around the corner, you don’t want to miss a thing. Please share this week’s Millennial Memo, and stay in the know by signing up for updates here.

TRUMP BLAMES FEDERAL LOANS FOR RISING TUITION, PROMISES DEBT PLAN BY EARLY SEPTEMBER: “Donald Trump blamed federal student loans for rising college costs Tuesday, promising to unveil a policy proposal to address the problem of mounting student debt later in his campaign for the presidency. Calling in to Fox News Tuesday morning, the Republican presidential nominee fielded a viewer question about the problem of high student loan debt. Trump responded that he would be unveiling a plan for aiding student borrowers in early September. He then argued that the availability of federal student loans has allowed colleges to raise tuitions without suffering consequences, passing the burden of the higher costs on to students in the form of greater debt. “The students are like conduits to get money from the government,” Trump explained that students borrow money from the government, and then pay it to the schools in the form of tuition. As a result, he said, “the colleges don’t care what their costs are,” and tuitions have gone up “rampantly.” Trump has said that a federal program would be needed to make college affordable for low-income students.” (Washington Examiner, August 9, 2016)

MEASURING UP MILLENNIALS: A new Economist/YouGov poll finds Secretary Clinton leading Donald Trump, Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein 42/36/9/2 respectively. The poll finds that among voters under 30, 41 percent are supporting Secretary Clinton, 22 percent are supporting Donald Trump, 18 percent are supporting Governor Johnson, and 7 percent are supporting Dr. Jill Stein. 12 percent are either voting for someone else, not sure yet, or will not vote. For some historical perspective, according to CIRCLE, President Obama won 18- to 29-year-old voters by a 60 to 37 margin over Governor Romney in 2012.

NEW CEA REPORT EMPHASIZES IMPORTANCE OF DEGREE, YET WARNS AGAINST FOR-PROFIT UNIVERSITIES: “As discussed in a recent CEA report, the college earnings premium has reached historical highs in recent years, reflecting a trend over several decades of increasing relative demand for skilled workers. In 2014, the median full-time, full-year worker over age 25 with a bachelor’s degree earned nearly 70 percent more than a similar worker with just a high school degree. Moreover, those with a college degree are more likely to be employed: in July 2016, Americans with a bachelor’s degree or higher were 18 percentage points more likely to be employed than high school graduates. While these data suggest that the overall return to a college education is near historic highs, there is meaningful variation across individuals, largely related to the schools students attend and the programs they select. In particular, evidence suggests that the relatively low returns at for-profit colleges are increasingly becoming a cause for concern, especially given the high rates of borrowing by students at those schools. The rise in student loan debt in recent years has created challenges for some borrowers, and the Administration has taken steps—including creating options like the Pay as You Earn (PAYE) plan, which caps monthly student loan payments at 10 percent of discretionary income—to help borrowers manage debt after college.” (White House, August 5, 2016)

WHAT THE SURROGATES ARE SAYING–WALKER CALLS FOR PERFORMANCE-BASED FUNDING & INCREASING ACCESS TO OUTCOMES DATA: “One of our top goals is to make college more affordable for students and working families in Wisconsin. I am proud that, for the first time ever, we froze tuition at all University of Wisconsin (UW) campuses for four years in a row. We also want to find ways to reduce the amount of time to graduation and ways to help more students earn credits for college while still in high school. All of these reforms will help make college more affordable for students and working families. While there has been a great deal of talk about finances, it is important to note the overall UW System budget this year is the highest it has ever been, and the next state budget automatically starts with $50 million added to the base for the UW System budget. Looking ahead, I will propose an increase in funding for the UW System, and it will be connected to performance metrics. Over the past few years, we increased funding for our technical college system, including performance funding, and it is working very well. We believe it is important to know specific data such as how many students enroll, how many graduate, how many graduate on time, how much they take out in student loans, how much the student loans cost, how many graduates are employed and in what areas. New funding should help address the needs of students and employers in Wisconsin, and it should be based on performance.” (MacIver Institute, August 4, 2016)

NEW JERSEY STATE LAWMAKERS WANT TO DUMP STATE’S LOAN PROGRAM: “Two Senate Democratic leaders said Monday that New Jersey should scrap the student loan program now operated by the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority. They spoke toward the end of an over two-hour joint meeting of their committees to review the authority’s NJCLASS loan program. (The hearing was prompted by a New York Times/ProPublica article in July that said the loans have especially stringent terms.) HESAA is a state agency. Its mission is to help New Jersey students finance post-secondary education. At the hearing, several borrowers, both students and co-signatory parents, spoke about their difficulty in repaying loans. Some said they had had to declare bankruptcy because of the loans. HESAA loans are financed by tax-exempt bonds sold by the agency, which Gordon said means the program was “predestined to have problems.”” (Politico, August 8, 2016)

INSTITUTIONS LOBBY SETS COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY PRIORITIES FOR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES: “[W]e urge the restoration of the year-round Pell Grant to help low-income students attend college and reduce their time to degree. We support strong tax provisions that encourage saving for higher education (such as Sec. 529 Education Savings Plans), help students and families pay for college (such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit), and assist borrowers as they repay student loans (such as the Student Loan Interest Deduction). State governments, too, should devote greater financial and other resources to higher education in order to minimize tuition increases. Institutions have an important role to play, as well, by offering substantial financial aid to needy students, being continually aggressive in pursuing cost-saving strategies, and employing technology, when appropriate, to provide high quality, affordable higher education.” (Association of American Universities, August 8, 2016)

SENATE SPECIAL

NEW HAMPSHIRE–HASSAN RELEASES PLAN ON FOR-PROFIT UNIVERSITIES: “In the Senate, Maggie will protect veterans by closing the 90/10 Rule loophole. To help ensure that students are receiving a quality education, the 90/10 Rule requires colleges and universities that receive federal funding through student loans and grants to derive at least 10% of their revenue from non-governmental sources. However, a loophole allows federal veterans benefits to count toward the required 10% of “non-federal” revenue, leading some predatory for-profit schools to deliberately target veterans and servicemembers. As the Atlantic reported last year, many for-profit schools, such as Bridgepoint Education’s Ashford University, may only have been able to “keep afloat by exploiting veterans and their family members” in order to comply with the 90/10 Rule. [In addition, Hassan will:]
  • Promote transparency & improve 90/10 Rule compliance
  • Protect servicemembers from deceptive marketing
  • Prevent for-profit schools from saddling students with unmanageable debt
  • Provide student loan debt relief by allowing borrowers to refinance their loans
  • Maintain a strong & independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau”

(Maggie Hassan for Senate, August 2, 2016)

NEVADA–HECK TOUTS EFFORTS TO INCREASE COLLEGE ACCESS: