Automatic Group Student Loan Relief Offered to Defrauded Borrowers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 13, 2017
CONTACT: Sarah Schultz, sarah.schultz@younginvincibles.org, 202-734-6510

[Washington, D.C.] - The Department of Education announced today that federal student loan borrowers at the defunct American Career Institute in Massachusetts are eligible for automatic group discharge of their federal student loans under the recently finalized borrower defense rule. Investigations by the Department of Education and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office, combined with admissions of wrongdoing by ACI, demonstrated that the school misled and deceived students, employed unauthorized instructors, and exaggerated its job placement rates.

“The decision to grant automatic group discharge lifts a huge weight off the shoulders of students who were deceived,” said Reid Setzer, Deputy Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs for Young Invincibles. “Discharging loans used to attend fraudulent institutions is exactly what the Department should do in cases like these. The Department has made sure that these defrauded borrowers can get back on track, without having to go through complex and confusing processes that can prevent them from obtaining relief. We hope the Department will continue to protect students from predatory actors and help restore the financial security of students whenever fraud has been found, so they can continue to pursue their educations.”

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Young Invincibles’ Statement on NY Governor Cuomo’s Announcement of Tuition Free Plan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

January 3rd, 2016

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

[New York] – Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the Excelsior Scholarship program to provide free tuition to roughly 940,000 New York State residents who make less than $125,000 and attend a SUNY or CUNY school full-time.

Kevin Stump, Northeast Director of Young Invincibles, issued the following statement:

“After years of tuition hikes and structural disinvestment to New York State’s two public university systems, students are excited that increased state resources are going to help them access more affordable public higher education. This is a positive step forward, and we’re hopeful that this commitment to investing in the education of young adults will be extended to even more students, including part-time and immigrant students.

We look forward to continuing the conversation with the Governor and the legislature to ensure that, in addition to covering tuition costs, resources are available to help students who are struggling to pay for other expenses associated with earning degree such as child care, housing, transportation, and more. Non-tuition expenses make up the majority of the full cost of attending 4-year and 2-year public institutions.

It is critical that any proposal to make tuition free comes with a commitment from state lawmakers to also fully fund CUNY and SUNY so they can provide the high quality public higher education New Yorkers need to succeed in our workforce.”

Young Invincibles is a Steering Committee member of the CUNY Rising Alliance.

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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:
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Young Invincibles: Damaging House Labor-H Bill Passes Appropriations Committee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, July 14, 2016

CONTACT: Nina Smith, nina.smith@younginvincibles.org301-717-9006

Damaging House Labor-H Bill Passes Appropriations Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House Appropriations Committee today passed the FY 2017 Labor-H Appropriations bill via a nearly party-line vote, which would cut Pell Grants and restrict the Department of Education’s ability to protect students from predatory education providers. It would completely eliminate funding for apprenticeships, child care for student parents, and health care access for millions of young adults.

Rory O’Sullivan, deputy director of Young Invincibles stated the following:

“The House Labor-H appropriations bill passed out of committee today ignores the barriers to opportunity facing millions of young people across the country. Slashing funding for education and child care could prevent young adults from establishing lasting careers, caring for their families, and boosting their earning potential with a college degree. At a time when our generation could become the first in American history worse off than our parents, this bill would put economic security further out of reach for millions.

The cuts in this bill are expansive.  Pell Grants would lose $1.3 billion, limiting access to college for eight million students seeking a postsecondary credential. The bill would zero-out funding for on-campus childcare essential for young parents seeking a degree – something that has enjoyed longstanding bipartisan support. It would also expose vulnerable students to deceptive, high-debt education providers with an outright repeal of the Gainful Employment rule.

Even as youth unemployment remains 40 percent above the national average, this bill eliminates already meager funding to support businesses hoping to establish and expand apprenticeship training programs that lead to well-paid jobs and productive employees. Finally, the bill would defund aspects of the ACA critical to ensuring health care access for millions of young people.

Students and working families count on these resources to make a better life for themselves and for their families. We commend Members of the Committee who stood up in support of smart investments that help Americans achieve economic security.  And we remain hopeful that Congress can find common ground that ensures access to a quality, affordable higher education, health care coverage for millions of young adults, and alternative pathways to essential workforce credentials in future spending agreements.”

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Young Invincibles Applauds Bipartisan House Passage of FAFSA Simplification

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, July 11, 2016

CONTACT: Nina Smith, nina.smith@younginvincibles.org, 301-717-9006

Young Invincibles Applauds Bipartisan House Passage of FAFSA Simplification

Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. House passed HR 5528, the Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act, a bill designed to enable students and families fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) more easily. The bill codifies recent changes to the FAFSA that allow students and families to use older tax data to fill out the form. This fix will provide families with more automatic responses using pre-existing data and limit delays that prevent filling out the form, resulting in more students and families receiving the aid they need to afford postsecondary education. Accepting older tax data to simplify and streamline the application process is a vital piece of Young Invincibles’ higher education reform agenda.

“The FAFSA is the gateway to critical financial resources for students and families, but far too often confusing forms prevent hardworking students from accessing college. Up to two million more students could receive financial aid if we enshrine changes to the FAFSA,” said Reid Setzer, Young Invincibles’ Deputy Director of Policy & Legislative Affairs. “We’re pleased to see bipartisan support for improving access to federal financial aid for students and families. The Obama Administration and House of Representatives deserve credit for standing up for students and we urge the Senate to pass the bill this year. We also look forward to seeing Rep. Scott’s FAFSA simplification proposal later this week that aims to further streamline the FAFSA process.”

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2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (July 7, 2016): Keeping tabs on higher education debates

2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (July 7, 2016)

Welcome to this special Thursday edition of Millennial Memo! I hope everyone had a great 4th. We’re just 10 days until Cleveland, 17 days until Philly, and 123 days until Election Day. Get the latest on all things Millennials & 2016 by signing up for updates here.

CLINTON UNVEILS CHANGES TO NEW COLLEGE COMPACT, CALLS FOR FREE TUITION FOR WORKING FAMILIES & 3-MONTH LOAN REPAYMENT MORATORIUM: “Clinton is significantly broadening a proposal to offer debt-free college to more students as part of an effort to appeal to young voters, including many who supported rival Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries. Clinton would eliminate college tuition for working families under the proposal she is announcing Wednesday. The new proposal borrows a key principle from the Sanders college plan, but it stops short of the free-college-for-all plan he offered to great acclaim from young supporters… The original cost of Clinton’s college plan — which she said aims to help students “drowning in debt caused by ever-rising college costs” — was $350 billion over 10 years. A Clinton aide said the expansion will raise the cost by more than $100 billion. Any such plan would require congressional approval… The Clinton plan would ensure that families with income below a certain level will pay no tuition at in-state public colleges and universities, according to her campaign. The plan ultimately would cover more than 8 in 10 families. The expansion of the tuition plan would be introduced on a sliding scale: At the start, students from families making $85,000 a year or less could attend a four-year public college or university tuition-free. The income threshold will increase by $10,000 a year every year over the next four years, the campaign said, meaning that by 2021 all students with a family income of $125,000 or less could pay no tuition. Clinton is also proposing a three-month moratorium on the repayment of federal student debt immediately upon taking office. And she is proposing that federal aid called Pell grants be available to students year-round instead of only during the school year.” (The Washington Post, 7/6/2015)

SANDERS RESPONDS TO CLINTON’S UPDATED “NEW COLLEGE COMPACT: “I want to take this opportunity to applaud Secretary Clinton for the very bold initiative she has just brought forth today for the financing of higher education. This proposal combines some of the strongest ideas she fought for during the campaign with some of the principles that I fought for. The final product is a result of the work of both campaigns. Let me be very clear. This proposal, when implemented, will revolutionize the funding of higher education in America, improve the economic future of our country and make life immediately better for tens of millions of people stuck with high levels of student debt. This proposed legislation will provide free tuition at public colleges and universities for all families in America earning $125,000 a year or less – 83 percent of our families. In other words, the dream of higher education in America will become a reality for all, regardless of the income of one’s family. This proposal will also provide very substantial relief for students and families carrying student debt… I thank Secretary Clinton for introducing this proposal which, in my view, will have a profound impact on the future of our country.” (Bernie 2016, July 6, 2016)

DEMOCRATIC PARTY RELEASES PLATFORM DRAFT, INCLUDES PRIORITIES FOR HIGHER EDUCATION: “The Democratic Party released a draft version of its proposed party platform late Friday afternoon. The platform won’t be finalized until the Platform Committee meets [July 8th and 9th], followed by a vote at the party’s convention in Philadelphia, but it’s a good guidepost for what will make it into the final version.” The draft platform is available below. (Mother Jones, July 1, 2016)
Higher Education
Democrats believe that if you are an American who wants to get an education, you should always be able to get one: money should never stand in the way. Cost should not be a barrier to getting a degree or credential, and debt should not hold you back after you graduate. Bold new investments by the federal government, coupled with states reinvesting in higher education and colleges holding the line on costs, will ensure that Americans of all backgrounds will be prepared for the jobs and economy of the future. We will make community college free, while ensuring the strength of our historically minority-serving institutions. Achieving these goals depends on state and federal investment in both students and their teachers. Whether full-time or adjunct, faculty must be supported to make transformative educational experiences possible. As we make college affordable for future students, we will not forget about the millions of borrowers who need help with their debt right now.
Student Debt
Democrats will allow those who currently have student debt to refinance their loans at the lowest rates possible. We will simplify and expand access to income-based repayment so that no student loan borrowers ever have to pay more than they can afford. And we will significantly cut interest rates for future undergraduates, thereby preventing the federal government from making billions of dollars in profit from student loans. Democrats will also fight for a Student Borrower Bill of Rights to ensure borrowers get adequate information about options to avoid or get out of delinquency or default. We will hold lenders and loan servicers to high standards to help borrowers in default rehabilitate and repay their debts. Finally, Democrats will restore the prior standard in bankruptcy law to allow borrowers with student loans discharge their debts in bankruptcy as a measure of last resort.
Minority-Serving Institutions
We will strengthen our nation’s public and private Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions, and other minority-serving institutions by providing a dedicated fund of tens of billions of dollars to keep costs down, provide a quality education, and provide dedicated support to improve student outcomes and completion rates. These schools play an important role in building opportunity and creating a diverse workforce.
For-Profit Schools
Donald Trump ran a fake university—the now bankrupt Trump “University”—that scammed many out of their hard-earned savings and led to no degree and no obvious benefit to their education or economic prosperity. Democrats will not tolerate this type of fraud. We will also continue to crack down on for-profit schools that take millions in federal financial aid—often as their principal source of revenue—and then exploit students and burden them with debt rather than educating them. That is why we will strengthen the gainful employment rule to ensure that for-profit schools enable students to complete their degrees and prepare them for work. We will go after for-profits that engage in deceptive marketing, fraud, and other illegal practices. It is not right that for-profit schools with low graduation rates keep encouraging their students to take out federal loans they will have trouble paying back.”

FORMER CORINTHIAN STUDENTS RECEIVE $171 MILLION IN DEBT FORGIVENESS: “The Obama administration has agreed to forgive $171 million in student debt held by former students of the defunct Corinthian Colleges Inc., the toll of a for-profit school boom that is likely to grow as the government continues to investigate schools accused of fraud. The report released Wednesday by the Education Department provides the most detailed accounting yet of the taxpayer cost of the collapse of Corinthian, once among the nation’s largest for-profit college chains. The company liquidated in bankruptcy last year amid federal and state allegations that it advertised fraudulent statistics about the career success of its graduates. Corinthian had denied wrongdoing.” (The Wall Street Journal, June, 29, 2016)

CLINTON PITCHES STUDENT DEBT REFORMS AT YOUTUBE CREATORS TOWN HALL: Clinton’s remarks begin at 6:21 here.

TRUMP CRITICIZES CLINTON’S PLAN TO GRANT GREEN CARD STATUS TO STEM DEGREE SEEKERS:

GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE JILL STEIN PLEDGES TO CANCEL STUDENT DEBT IN NEW CAMPAIGN VIDEO: Watch the video here. In the video, Stein says: “We will bail out millennials and others in student debt… We did it for the crooks on Wall Street, it’s about time to do it for the millennials and the generation held hostage in debt.”

MEASURING UP MILLENNIALS: “While Johnson has been polling nationally at about 10 percent, he is performing particularly well among millennial voters, reports Politico. About 22 percent of millennial voters, and 25 percent of white millennials, chose Johnson in a three-way matchup with Trump and Hillary Clinton, according to a poll from the Democratic firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.” (The Plain Dealer, July 5, 2016)

VEEP WATCH

KAINE CO-INTRODUCES BILL TO HELP STUDENTS UNDERSTAND COLLEGE FINANCING: “A bill introduced in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday looks to give students who are borrowing for college a better understanding of federal financial aid. The Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act, introduced in part by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), would give student and parent borrowers more interactive, online counseling tailored to their individual financial situations. ‘[The bill] would provide reinforcement for the student to see how much they’ve borrowed thus far, what the expected monthly repayment on that would be under different repayment plan options,’ said Scott Morrison, the financial aid director at Bridgewater College. ‘That would be helpful.’” View the full bill here. (WHSV, June 30, 2016)

WARREN DISSATISFIED WITH CANDIDATES FOR FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN SERVICING CONTRACTS:
(Source: Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s Facebook account)

SENATE SPECIAL

NEVADA–ONE NATION AD TOUTS HECK’S SUPPORT FOR WIOA & INCREASING FUNDING FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL ED: Watch the ad here.

NEW HAMPSHIRE–NEW HASSAN AD TOUTS RECORD ON TUITION: Watch the ad here.

NORTH CAROLINA–IN NEW FB POST, BURR TOUTS IMPACT OF 2013 INTEREST RATE DEAL:
(Source: Sen. Richard Burr’s Twitter account)
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Young Invincibles: House Labor-H Bill Threatens Higher Education Access For Hardworking Students and Families

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

CONTACT: Nina Smith, nina.smith@younginvincibles.org, 301-717-9006

House Labor-H Bill Threatens Higher Education Access For Hardworking Students and Families 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the House Appropriations Committee released their version of the FY 2017 Labor-H Appropriations bill, which includes regressive cuts to Pell and provisions that restrict the Department of Education’s ability to regulate higher education institutions.

Rory O’Sullivan, deputy director of Young Invincibles, said the following:

“At a time when tuition and student debt levels are exploding, the House version of the Labor-H appropriations bill released today slashes financial aid for hardworking students across the country. Taking $1.3 billion from Pell Grants threatens to make college less affordable for over eight million low- and moderate-income individuals. Worse still, the bill strips out critical protections that ensure minimum educational outcomes for students attending career colleges. Finally, the bill cuts $100 million from apprenticeships expansion efforts, an essential tool to modernize our workforce and ensure young people have the skills to achieve successful careers. Now more than ever, our generation needs effective education and training beyond high school to achieve economic security and this bill would make those opportunities harder to reach.

We’re disappointed in the current bill, but we remain hopeful that during the upcoming markups, and in the months to come, common sense solutions to fix higher education will prevail over measures that threaten access for millions of hardworking students and families.”

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Young Invincibles’ Statement on the Senate FY17 Labor-H Appropriations Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Thursday, June 9, 2016

CONTACT: Nina Smith, nina.smith@younginvincibles.org, 301-717-9006

[WASHINGTON]—Following today’s Appropriations Committee markup of the Senate Fiscal Year 2017 Labor-H Appropriations bill, Rory O’Sullivan, deputy director of Young Invincibles, issued the following statement:

“We are pleased the Committee came together in a bipartisan fashion to restore Year-Round Pell for one million students, helping them complete college faster and with less debt. Unfortunately, that reform advances alongside cuts that threaten the financial future of the Pell Grant program and the approximately 8 million low- and moderate-income students it serves.

We’ve seen the purchasing power of Pell erode over the past several decades, and now our most effective economic mobility tool covers less than a third of the cost of a typical four-year public college. There are a host of reforms available to strengthen Pell, including a significant increase in the maximum Pell grant, that today’s cuts would make harder to pursue.

It is deeply concerning to see funding taken out of a program designed to expand access to higher education. While the impact  may not be felt today, this decision undermines our country’s commitment to hard-working students. We urge Congressional leaders to restore and protect Pell funding in the months to come.”  

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2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (April 6, 2016): Keeping tabs on higher education debates

2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (April 6, 2016)

Good Wednesday morning, everyone! We are just 102 days away from Cleveland and 109 days away from Philadelphia. What happens between now and then? God only knows. But we’ll have you covered with everything you need to know about 2016 & Millennials. Share this week’s Millennial Memo with colleagues and friends, sign up for updates, and follow YI on Twitter here to stay in the know. Have a great rest of this very busy week!

OUT THIS WEEK: Young people have realized gains over the last few years, but too many Millennials are still struggling to find a job or work that pays a decent living. Responding to some of the concerns we have heard from young people struggling to gain a foothold in today’s economy, Young Invincibles released our 2016 Millennial Workforce Development Priorities. If adopted in full, the reforms we outline could create over 3 million full-time, part-time, and summer jobs each year and would improve training opportunities for an additional 1 million young people at an annual cost of $13.1 billion.

KASICH CALLS FOR STRONGER CONNECTION BETWEEN EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE: During a town hall hosted by CNN last week, Ohio Governor John Kasich said: “We have got to begin to teach our kids in K through 12 and also in the community college and the four-year schools to be getting an education for a job that exists.  Don’t get educated in a vacuum.  Make sure you know what you want to do, and look for an education that can lead you to a real job.”

CRUZ SAYS BETTER WORKFORCE BEGINS WITH BETTER EDUCATION: Addressing the skills gap at a recent CNN town hall, Sen. Ted Cruz said: “it is a huge problem we see of a need for a trained workforce and a need for a workforce that’s prepared and wants to work. You know, as I meet with small business owners all across the country, I hear those concerns over and over and over again that it’s hard to get people who are qualified and who want to work and are prepared to work, and that’s a real challenge… Now, in terms of getting new and able workers, we need to do several things. Number one, we need to reform education. You know, the step to having well-trained workers is having a strong education program.”

CRUZ OUTLINES WHAT STATES SHOULD DO WITH EDUCATION BLOCK GRANTS: Cruz continued: “If you look at education right now, number one, I think the federal government needs to get the heck out of it… I think what we ought to be doing is abolishing the federal Department of Education and block-granting that money to send it back to Wisconsin. I think the people of Wisconsin know much better what to do with that money. And part of that money… ought to be directed to vocational training, ought to be directed to different nontraditional ways where people can earn skills, whether it’s distance learning, whether it is using the Internet, using options where your only option isn’t spending $50,000 a year at a four-year college but expanding the options for people to get education.”

CLINTON CASTS GOV. WALKER AS FREE COLLEGE FOIL: “In Walker’s Wisconsin, a frustrated Clinton has taken the tactic to a level beyond standard partisan jabs — she’s used his record to undermine the feasibility of Sanders’ proposals. Zeroing in on the Vermont senator’s college affordability plan that’s central to his appeal to younger voters, Clinton has taken to reminding voters they would not benefit from the proposal if they live in a state with an uncooperative GOP governor. Walker, she says on the campaign trail, fits that bill — a message echoed in a web video circulated by her campaign this weekend. ‘The way we figure it, under Senator Sanders’ plan, the state of Wisconsin would have to put in $300 million over 10 years for free college, and you have a governor who just cut $250 million from the state higher education budget,’ she said here on Monday.” (Politico, 4/3/2016) Clinton’s remarks were delivered at a recent Wisconsin Democratic Party fundraiser. Check them out in full here. The Clinton also repackages that message in a new web ad.Check it out here.

UW PROFESSOR ENDORSES SANDERS’ FREE COLLEGE PLAN: Earlier this week, UW-Madison professor of educational policy studies Sara Goldrick-Rab penned an op-ed in support of Sanders’ free college plan. “Bernie Sanders has a plan that emphasizes the importance of making public higher education affordable to everyone, period…It focuses on the public sector because government can hold schools accountable for high-quality outcomes, and encourage real competition for private institutions that shortchange students. Sadly, Hillary Clinton decries this bold effort to make college affordable because she thinks Gov. Scott Walker won’t like it, or one of Trump’s kids might actually benefit. … [Sanders is] proposing that the federal government pays two-thirds of the costs and states pay one-third. If Governor Walker refuses to make college in Wisconsin affordable, then Wisconsin residents will either vote him out or move to Minnesota where college will be free — after all, they will face a nearly $100,000 incentive per degree to do so.”

MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR ON SANDERS’ COLLEGE PLAN: “There are two surefire applause lines at any Sanders rally: His brutal takedowns of Wall Street bankers. His passion for college education. Many of Sanders’ ideas are unrealistic and have little chance of surviving death by Congress. He has a $15.3 trillion tax plan that 1) would not pass even if the Democrats took control and 2) would put a real hurt on the economy if it did. But the senator and Democratic candidate for president may be on to something if his push for free college leads to a serious discussion about educational attainment in the U.S. Training after high school is essential, whether it’s an advanced degree or a two-year technical certificate. The median weekly earnings for a high school graduate last year were $678 but rose to $800 a week for an associate degree and $1,137 for a bachelor’s degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The likelihood of being unemployed dropped like a rock as educational attainment rose… But at a time when Wisconsin businesses are complaining they can’t find enough qualified help and when the state’s biggest business lobby frets about our aging population, Wisconsin should be looking for smart ways to boost its rate of educational attainment whether through a free tuition program or some other way… The senator hasn’t sold me. But I do believe this: While 12 years of schooling was good enough for my Dad, it’s not nearly good enough for your kids.” (Journal Sentinel, 4/3/2016)

WARREN PRAISES CLINTON & SANDERS FOR COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY CONVERSATION: “By contrast, the Democratic nominating contest, Warren said, has been filled with debates over ideas that will actually affect the lives of Americans. Noting that 70 percent of Americans have to borrow money for college, Warren pointed out that Sanders and Clinton are having a good debate about the cost of higher education. ‘Between Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders, they’re talking about should it be free college or should it be debt-free college. God bless that is the right place to have that discussion,’ she said. Warren, who has declined to make an endorsement in the Democratic primary so far, added that Sanders supporters should vote for Clinton if she gets the nomination and vice versa.” (The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, 3/31/2016)

SENATE SPECIAL

ILLINOIS–DUCKWORTH TO PROPOSE NEW NATIONAL SERVICE PROGRAM: “Duckworth… tout[ed] legislation she intends to propose that would establish a voluntary national service program targeted at all young American adults. Duckworth told a group of people from local human services agencies about putting finishing touches on what she’s calling the 21st Century American Service Act, which she hopes to have ready to present when Congress returns to work the week of April 11… Duckworth’s plan-in-the-works would have any eligible American who applies to dedicate a year of service provided with an opportunity to serve and provided with a post-service educational award to help students afford college tuition. The program would enroll all legal U.S. residents and citizens 18-30 years old, Duckworth said. People could opt out of receiving further notification of the voluntary program to volunteer. Those who don’t opt out and who aren’t taking part would receive notification every two years until they turn 30, Duckworth said. The act would task a commission — within 10 years of the act being signed into law — with coming up with a plan for and a way to fund granting money to cover college costs or student debt based on hours served. Another task would be to figure out an efficient way to contact youths as they turn 18 about the details of the act.” (Chicago Tribune, 4/1/2016)

NORTH CAROLINA–DSCC EXEC DIRECTOR ON PELL: In describing Democratic candidate Deborah Ross, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Executive Director Tom Lopach said: “Her record is a stark contrast with Senator Richard Burr who has voted with his party a staggering 95 percent of the time in favor of cutting billions from Pell Grants, turning Medicare into a voucher program and protecting companies that ship North Carolina jobs overseas.”

NEVADA–HECK IS LEADING BIPARTISAN EFFORT IN THE HOUSE TO SIMPLIFY THE FAFSA: “The current guidelines for FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, can be difficult to understand for prospective college students. Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are saying that students who want to go to college shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to acquire financial aid. The bill would make it easier for prospective college students to get the information they need to fill out a FAFSA form. Congressman Joe Heck (R-Nevada) thinks the current requirements scare some students away. ‘I’m still paying off my student loans,’ said Heck. ‘I know how difficult it is to navigate this process, and we don’t want that to be a hiccup for some talented high school graduate that’s looking to go onto college.’ Heck says the fact that the current FAFSA is ten pages long with 100 questions makes it difficult for students and their families to get through the form. He says this bill will cut through a lot of unnecessary red tape, it includes the sharing of some IRS information that will automatically fill in parts of the application for the student. Another component is the tax information required… This bill allows for students to use the previous year’s [tax] information… Heck says he doesn’t think a number of the questions currently being asked on FAFSA forms have any impact on determining financial aid, and he says he’d like to see those cut out.” (KCRG)

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FACT SHEET: FAFSA Simplification

The unnecessarily complicated application for Federal Student Aid is preventing some students from accessing the financial aid they are entitled to or in some cases from going to college all together. Students tell us all the time that the application process can be quite difficult to complete and can put a strain on their families. It doesn’t have to be this way. Click here to read Young Invincibles’ fact sheet on FAFSA simplification.

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