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2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (March 16, 2016): Keeping tabs on higher education debates

2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (March 16, 2016)

236 days to go…

Congrats! You’ve made it. We are officially past the halfway point in the presidential primary process. This is your weekly blast keeping you in the loop on Millennials and the 2016 election. Please share this week’s Millennial Memo, encourage your friends and colleagues to sign up for updates here, and follow us on Twitter at @YoungInvincible.

THREE JUDGE PANEL FEATURING SCOTUS NOM MERRICK GARLAND OKAYS GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT RULE: “A federal appeals court handed a severe blow to for-profit colleges [last week], ruling in favor of an Obama administration rule that denies federal funds to programs whose graduates perform badly on the job market. The unanimous ruling, delivered per curiam by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, is withering in its rhetoric, aggressively criticizing the reasoning that for-profit schools have sought to have unfettered access to the student loan market. ‘It would be strange for Congress to loan out money to train students for jobs that were insufficiently remunerative to permit the students to repay their loans,’ the decision says. ‘It would be a perverse system that, by design, wasted taxpayer money in order to impose crippling, credit-destroying debt on lower-income students and graduates.’ The so-called gainful employment rule, created by the Department of Education in 2014, governs which for-profit college programs are eligible to receive federal student loans. Under the rule, programs whose graduates struggle to find jobs that can repay their loans are first placed on probation, and later, if they fail to improve, are cut off from access to federal loans entirely.” (The Daily Caller, 3/9/2016)

TRUMP’S FLORIDA FOR-PROFIT EDUCATION COMPANY: “Donald Trump just won a key endorsement going into Tuesday’s Florida primary: the state’s attorney general, Pam Bondi. But her bigger favor to Trump may have been her decision in 2013 not to pursue an investigation of Trump’s for-profit education chain after he made a big donation to her re-election campaign. As Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel reported at the time, Bondi announced in September 2013 that her office was reviewing a series of complaints related to the Trump Institute of Boca Raton, a for-profit education company that is no longer in operation. Three days after the report that Bondi was considering joining other states’ attorneys general in taking action against Trump’s for-profit education chain, the real estate mogul dumped $25,000 into a committee organized for Bondi’s re-election. Bondi ended up taking no action.” (The Intercept, 3/14/2016)

PROSPECTIVE TREASURY SECRETARY UNDER HRC WEIGHS IN ON STUDENT DEBT: “Mohamed El-Erian, the former PIMCO co-head who’s thought to be Hillary Clinton’s favored pick for Treasury Secretary, compared the student loan situation in the US to the Greek debt crisis and said that some ‘debt forgiveness’ would be on the table… While student debt falls short of being a crisis, El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz, said at an industry event, it’s a ‘headwind for growth.’ He added that doing anything to alleviate the debt burden would require significant political capital. ‘You can do a lot of focused debt forgiveness,’ El-Erian said. ‘Do I like doing that? No. Does it raise whole issues of fairness? Yes. But the alternative is worse.’ ‘This is like Greece. Nobody really wants to forgive Greece’s debt because of a lot of misbehavior, but if you don’t forgive Greece’s debt, you’re going to have multiple lost generations in Greece,’ he added.” (NY Post, 3/10/2016)

SANDERS CONVERTS FREE COLLEGE SKEPTIC, VOX’S MATT YGLESIAS: “I’ve come around to the idea that the correct tuition for qualified students at public colleges and universities is $0. The traditional case against free college… is that it’s a waste of money to offer publicly subsidized higher education to the children of affluent parents. But it also reminded me of the few times in my life that I met Trump’s daughter Ivanka. [Neither] of us was attending school at public expense, but we all could have been as a matter of right and public policy. Which is to say we don’t charge tuition at public high schools and then provide grants and loans to make it affordable to families in need. We make it free, and to the extent that we need to consider families’ differential ability to pay we do that through the tax code… We should also consider the possibility that a public commitment to subsidizing college without mandating that it be free actually encourages excessive spending on the part of administrators. In static terms, creating a free public service obviously requires more money than a partially subsidized one. But with a firm “this needs to be free” rule in place, administrators are now limited to the amount of money that’s actually been appropriated, and if they want more funds for some new initiative they need to explicitly make the case that it’s valuable. The most decisive reason to like Sanders’s goal of free college, however, didn’t become clear until the campaign itself began. The great thing about free college is that people know what it means and some people are excited about it.” (Vox, 3/10/2016)

BUT YGLESIAS DIGS INTO SANDERS’S FREE COLLEGE PLAN: “It’s worth reading Sanders’s actual plan, since not only is there a lot of nitpicking one could do but there’s also an enormous glaring flaw. …Sanders’s own summary of his College for All Act makes it pretty clear that the act would not, in practice, eliminate college tuition. What it would do instead is offer federal matching funds on a 2-to-1 basis to states that want to increase higher education spending in order to eliminate tuition… There are two relevant things to note here. One is that the 2-1 match for eliminating tuition is much less generous than the 9-1 match offered by the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, yet many states have chosen not to expand Medicaid. The other is that because the College for All Act requires qualifying universities to reduce reliance on low-paid adjunct faculty in addition to eliminating tuition, in practice the federal match is worth even less than 2 to 1… Between the years 2008 and 2015, 47 out of 50 states chose to cut higher education spending. …Put it all together, and what Sanders has is a plan for tuition-free college in Vermont and, if he’s lucky, California, but not for the United States of America.” (Vox, 3/14/2016)

FORMER TRUMP UNIVERSITY STUDENTS SAID THEY WERE PRESSURED INTO GIVING THE PROGRAM POSITIVE REVIEWS: “As Mr. Trump tries to fend off claims of misleading and fraudulent practices … his biggest weapon is what appears to be the overwhelmingly positive reviews from past participants … Interviews and documents show that employees of Trump University at times applied pressure on students to offer favorable reviews, instructed them to fill out the forms in order to obtain their graduation certificates, and ignored standard practices used to ensure that the surveys were filled out objectively…. At the same time, students and their lawyers have raised doubts about Mr. Trump’s claim of 98 percent satisfaction. A website set up to defend Trump University,, has published 10,000 student evaluations, but not all of them were from paying students. They include some from the more than 3,000 free guests that paying participants were encouraged to bring to the classes. More than 2,000 other students never made it to the end of their courses — they sought and received refunds before the end of their classes… In an interview, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, Daniel M. Petrocelli, said the experience of students who felt manipulated ‘is not representative of what happened across the board.’” (The New York Times, 3/11/2016)

MEASURING UP MILLENNIALS: “Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has expanded his double-digit lead among Millennials in the Democratic presidential race, but a new USA TODAY/Rock the Vote poll finds a way for Hillary Clinton to solve her generation gap: Donald Trump. Opposition to Trump nearly unites the rising generation. In a hypothetical Clinton v. Trump contest in November, voters under 35 would choose Clinton by a crushing 52%-19%, a preference that crosses demographic lines. Among whites, she’d be backed by nearly 2-1, 45%-26%. Among Hispanics, by more than 4-1, 61%-14%. Among Asian Americans, by 5-1, 60%-11%. Among African Americans, by 13-1, 67%-5%. And the yawning gender gap she has against Sanders would vanish: Clinton would carry young men and women by almost identical margins of more than 2-1. Nearly one in four Republicans would defect to the Democrats if the GOP nominated Trump against Clinton. Just 7% of Democrats would defect to the GOP… Sanders now leads Clinton among younger voters by 54%-37%, an even bigger advantage than the 11-point edge he held in January’s survey. Millennial women now back Sanders by a jaw-dropping 61%-30% while the divide among Millennial men is much closer, 48%-44%.” (USA Today, 3/15/2016)


OHIO–PORTMAN MEETS WITH ZANE STATE STUDENTS TO PITCH CAREER AND TECH ED BILLS: “Senator Portman toured Zane State’s new Advance Science and Technology Training Center and met with some students and administrators. ‘I was really impressed with what I saw here today at Zane State. I do a lot of work in Washington to try and pass legislation that helps our community colleges and helps to connect our career and technical schools at the high school level through community colleges. There are a lot of jobs out there and unbelievably high unemployment in some areas and yet we have a lot of jobs that are open and part of that reason is the skills gap,’ said Portman. Portman is the author of the ‘Education for Tomorrow’s Workforce Act’ which raises the quality of career and technical education programs at schools in Ohio and across the country. ‘We have two bills that we are working on here right now to get passed. One directly related to what we are seeing here today, because it provides grants from the federal government for shorter-term workforce training programs and skills training. Second we have legislation to try and ensure that the career in technical schools are providing the kind of education that really provides our students with access to immediate jobs,’ said [Portman].” (WHIZ, 2/15/2016)

OHIO–STRICKLAND PREVIEWS HIGHER ED & WORKFORCE PRIORITIES IN DEM PRIMARY DEBATE: “Because higher education is so closely tied to economic opportunity, I also want to make sure these education programs are more affordable and accessible to more Ohioans — we need to allow students to refinance their debt, incentivize the creation of more workforce training courses and apprenticeships, expand Pell Grants and support the Perkins Loans program in order to make college more affordable for working families.” (Cleveland Jewish News, 3/9/2016)

ILLINOIS–DUCKWORTH DROPS CAMPUS CHILD CARE BILL TO HELP STUDENT PARENTS: Earlier this month, “Congresswomen Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Katherine Clark (D-MA) introduced the ‘Child Care Access Means Parents in Schools (CCAMPIS) Improvement Act of 2016.’ CCAMPIS is the only federal program that supports child care services on college campuses for low-income parents, and services are provided year-round… [CCAMPIS] is authorized under the ‘Higher Education Act,’ and… funds about 85 programs annually on a $15 million appropriation. The Duckworth/Clark bill would provide a permanent extension of the program at $67 million annually.” (Child Care Aware, 3/7/2016)

PENNSYLVANIA–SESTAK ON HIGH INTEREST RATE STUDENT LOANS, SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY FOR COSTS: In a recent radio interview, former Admiral Joe Sestak, candidate for the Democratic nomination, lamented the interest rates on federal student loans and called for loans to be pegged to the 30-year Treasury note. Sestak continued that the federal government should consider pulling funds from institutions that fail to control their costs. Check out the full interview here.

WISCONSIN–FEINGOLD CONTINUES TECH ED TOUR, CALLS FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE “AFFORDABLE” AND “VALUABLE FOR EMPLOYERS”: “In northern Wisconsin, many employers say they have job openings, but not enough qualified workers to fill them. Places like Northcentral Technical College in Wausau can help train workers for those jobs. Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Russ Feingold learned more about the offerings at NTC during a campaign visit on Thursday. ‘I support this kind of technical education, and it is extremely important to our employers,’ Feingold said. ‘They’re telling me they can’t produce enough people to fill the positions that employers in the area want.’ A year ago, President Obama proposed making two years of community college free for all students. Feingold thinks a plan like that could work. ‘It’s a reasonably affordable thing that is so valuable, not only to the students and their families, but as we learned here at Northcentral, it’s really valuable to the employers,’ Feingold said. ‘We have more need for people than we have.’ Feingold said free college could be paid for, in part, by closing tax loopholes.“ (WJFW, 3/10/2016)

CALIFORNIA–INVESTIGATION BY AG HARRIS LED TO EXPEDITED DEBT RELIEF FOR 85,000 DEFRAUDED CORINTHIAN STUDENTS: “More than 85,000 additional students who attended campuses owned by now-bankrupt Corinthian Colleges Inc. will be eligible for expedited debt relief, federal and state officials announced Tuesday. The announcement will have the biggest impact on California students who attended Corinthian’s Everest College and WyoTech campuses between 2010 and 2013, along with students across the country who attended Everest University online. The move comes as part of a continuing investigation by the U.S. Department of Education and California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris into inflated job placement rates claimed by Corinthian, once among the nation’s largest operators of for-profit colleges.” (Los Angeles Times, 4/9/2015)

HOUSE FY2017 BUDGET CUTS PELL GRANTS: According to the Institute for College Access & Success, yesterday’s newly released House Budget Committee’s FY2017 budget “plan eliminates the scheduled $120 increase in the maximum Pell Grant, holding the maximum award level at $5,815 instead of keeping pace with inflation to rise to $5,935 in the 2017-18 school year, as current law provides. It then freezes the maximum grant for 10 years.  This freeze reduces the share of public four-year college costs covered by the maximum grant from an already record low of 29 percent to 21 percent by 2026.” (TICAS, 3/15/2016)