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Young Invincibles’ Take on the PROSPER Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

November 16, 2017

Contact: Sarah Schultz, sarah.schultz@younginvincibles.org, 202-734-6510

Young Invincibles’ Take on the PROSPER Act

The Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act was recently introduced in the House of Representatives. Ahead of the committee mark-up of the the PROSPER Act, Young Invincibles’ Government Affairs Director, Reid Setzer, released the following statements on aspects of the bill related to college affordability, easing the burden of student debt, strategies for increasing quality in higher education, and other priorities.

No Positive Changes to Pell

“This bill fails to make lasting structural improvements to the Pell Grant program, which almost 8 million low- and moderate-income students rely on to afford higher education. The purchasing power of Pell has dramatically eroded over the past several decades, but this bill does little to reverse that. It doesn’t enact policies helpful to all Pell recipients, like increasing the maximum award, indexing the award to in-state tuition or even just inflation, or shifting funding from discretionary spending to mandatory spending. It also fails to expand eligibility to millions of students, including DREAMers, the formerly incarcerated, and previously defrauded students. Without meaningful, lasting improvement to the Pell grant program, young people simply are not going to view this bill as a serious attempt to make college more affordable.”

No More Loan Forgiveness and Worse Repayment Options

“This bill undermines any positive aspects of simplifying the complex repayment system by locking borrowers into one plan that provides significantly fewer benefits. The plan raises monthly payments from 10 percent of discretionary income to 15 percent, making it harder for borrowers to fit their payments into their budgets. It no longer offers student loan forgiveness or low-income borrowers the option of a $0 monthly payment, and raises monthly payments for those in income-based repayment. Previously, borrowers who paid each month for 20 or 25 years could get their loans forgiven-providing financial relief for people in their 40s and 50s trying to save for retirement and raise a family, and giving a boost to the economy through redirecting those debt payments to other purchases. Under this plan, more individuals will be taking their student loan debt to the grave. In a time of growing student debt, this bill does nothing to alleviate the financial pressure on the over 40 million student loan borrowers in America.”

No More PSLF

“The bill also terminates the Public Sector Loan Forgiveness Program, designed to attract talented individuals into public sector employment, and make serving their country financially feasible. For many essential public sector positions like social work, education, medicine, and legal aid, graduate education is an expensive necessity to work in the field, and the promise of forgiveness after ten years of on-time payments in public sector employment makes a huge difference. Working in professions that give back to the community shouldn’t be a privilege reserved only for those who graduate without debt.”

No More Accountability for For-Profits

“The bill removes several regulations designed to protect students from predatory and poor-performing for-profit programs, including the Gainful Employment rule, the 90-10 rule, banning forced arbitration in enrollment contracts, and the state authorization rule. The collapse of massive for-profits like Corinthian and ITT Tech, in the face of years of consumer complaints and legal action against them, clearly indicates the need to demand accountability from institutions that rely almost entirely on taxpayer dollars. Students need a Department of Education that takes them seriously when they’ve been misled, and provides them relief so they can start over. This bill would create many more low-income students and veterans who have been hurt by malicious or indifferent for-profit colleges.”

Weakened Voter Registration Requirement

“The bill waters down an already weak provision requiring colleges to send out voter registration forms once every two years ahead of a major election. The provision is an opportunity for colleges to encourage millions of students to engage in our democracy for the first time. Instead of being stripped down, the provision should be strengthened to apply to all states and be an annual requirement, among other improvements.”

Failure to invest in CCAMPIS

“More than 25 percent of students are parents, many of whom struggle with affordable access to childcare while enrolled, yet as this population only grows, this bill does nothing accommodate the growing presence of parents on campus. The bill level funds the CCAMPIS program, the only federal support for on-campus childcare, when it is already only reaching a fraction of the number of student parents that need support. If we are serious about helping more people get the skills they need to provide for themselves and their families, we should help them complete school by expanding investment in this program.”

Doesn’t do enough on data

“The bill takes positive steps to make more program-level data available to students and families. However, we will still be left with a system that doesn’t count all students, deliberately leaving out the 30 percent of students who do not get Title IV aid. This choice results in an incomplete picture of student outcomes, preventing students and families from getting all the information they need to make the best choices for them, as well as frustrating policymakers trying to solve widening racial attainment gaps and other issues dependent on knowing how all students are doing. The College Transparency Act, a bipartisan, bicameral piece of legislation supported by students and institutions alike would solve these problems, yet it was not included in HR 4508.”