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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Where Are the ACICS Accredited Institutions?

By Tom Allison

Accreditors play a significant role in authorizing colleges to operate, and the schools they approve gain access to hundreds of billions of dollars in federal financial aid every year. Many schools rely on government funding for up to 90 percent of their total revenue. So it is a big deal that the Department of Education has taken away the accrediting power of Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), a move that significantly helps protect students from predatory institutions. After all, ACICS accredited seventeen institutions that were under federal or state investigation, allowing them to receive $5.7 billion in federal aid in the last three years.

Researchers and advocates have focused a lot of attention on the aggregated outcomes of colleges ACICS accredits, and that’s a great way to compare ACICS to other accreditors (see the great work from Center for American Progress here and Pro Publica here). The results have been staggering: students at colleges accredited by ACICS graduate at the lowest rates, take on more debt, and have the most difficulty repaying their loans.

To better understand the outcomes of the 160,000 students who attend these schools we dove deeper into the actual institutions ACICS accredits and where they’re distributed across the country. This map links all ACICS  accredited institutions with outcomes measures from the College Scorecard, showing how different schools stack up. We were pretty surprised how spread out they were (38 states total). California led the pack with thirty-six campuses, Florida and Pennsylvania each had twenty, and ten are in Texas.

Map

Here are some of the worst performing schools, by the performance metrics tracked in the College Scorecard.

Highest default rates:

Institution State Default Rate
Tucson College AZ 35%
Omega Institute NJ 33%
Kaplan Career Institute-Pittsburgh PA 31%
West Tennessee Business College TN 30%
Cheryl Fells School of Business NY 29%

Defaulting on student loans can wreck your credit. It is the worst outcome for a student borrower, and about a third of these schools’ students end up in this situation.

It’s true that for-profit institutions enroll more low-income students, who end up taking on more debt, but certain institutions’ students take on truly extreme levels of debt. The median debt for students at Stenotype Institute of Jacksonville is over $58,000, for instance. In fact, Florida hosts three of the five most indebted institutions accredited by ACICS.

Highest Median Debt:

Institution State Median Debt
Stenotype Institute of Jacksonville Inc-Jacksonville FL $53,832
Digital Media Arts College FL $43,476
NewSchool of Architecture and Design CA $43,417
International Academy of Design and Technology-Chicago IL $42,103
Jones College-Jacksonville FL $38,291

Loan repayment rate isn’t a perfect outcomes measure (none of them are). In fact, there are several different ways to calculate repayment rates. We use the Department of Education’s definition in the College Scorecard, which counts the percentage of borrowers who are actively paying at least $1 off the principle of their student loans. This can leave out students in income-driven repayment plans who might be paying the interest on their loans, but not enough to go towards the principal. However, loan repayment rate is in some ways the strongest measure of the return on investment a college provides a student, because it captures both sides of the value equation – money put in to finance the education and the ability to repay once in the workforce.

Data jargon aside, it should be concerning to students, parents, and taxpayers that less than a quarter of a college’s students are able to pay a $1 off their student loans three years after leaving the school.

Lowest Repayment Rates:

Institution State Repayment Rate
Camelot College LA 12%
Gallipolis Career College OH 16%
TESST College of Technology-Baltimore MD 17%
Daymar College-Chillicothe OH 21%
Cheryl Fells School of Business NY 21%

Of course income is a major factor in students’ ability to repay their loans, and it’s somewhat expected that a college’s graduates would go on to earn higher incomes than a typical high school graduate. So here are the schools with the lowest percentages of graduates able to earn more than that high school annual income ($25,000 per year):

Institution State % Earning Above High School Graduate
Camelot College LA 11%
Gallipolis Career College OH 12%
Forrest College SC 19%
Laurel Technical Institute PA 21%
West Virginia Junior College-Charleston WV 22%

Considering most students pursue higher education for better career opportunities, the fact that only one in five of these colleges’ students are able to improve their prospects is unacceptable.

While many of these schools are clearly failing their students, other schools don’t look too shabby by these limited measures. Premiere Career College in Los Angeles, for instance, graduates 83 percent of its students, with 73 percent able to repay their loans, and only 2 percent defaulting. Fortunately, these institutions can find a new accreditor, and the Department should ensure a smooth process for these and other high performing institutions to do so.

Author’s Note: Institutions with data missing in the College Scorecard were removed from the rankings. Puerto Rico institutions were also excluded from the rankings, but included in the map. Some institutions marked as accredited by ACICS in the College Scorecard data are no longer accredited by them, while other institutions have closed. I made every effort  to expunge these institutions as well. Big thanks to Ben Miller for pointing out those anomalies and sending over updated data.

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Helpful Resources for 40,000 Students Impacted by ITT Tech Closure

ITT Technical Institute (ITT Tech), one of our nation’s largest for-profit institutions, announced recently that it is closing all of its campuses. This comes as the Department of Education implemented consumer protections prohibiting the institution from accessing federal financial aid programs when enrolling students. While YI is happy thousands of students will be shielded from ITT’s predatory business practices, many students are wondering what’s next.

The decision impacts approximately 40,000 students across the country enrolled at ITT and it is imperative to ensure those students have access to reliable information as the situation develops.  The Department of Education has outlined possible paths in a message from the Secretary of Education sent to ITT Tech students along with the creation of a new announcement page and FAQ for updates.

Additionally, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) also released a blog post with  advice and next steps, as well as other helpful information, to thousands of students impacted by the closure.

Share this post with your networks and help us reach students whose educational journeys are forever altered to ensure that they are equipped with reliable information to help them navigate the process moving forward.

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New Regulations Imposed on ITT Technical Institute Help Protect Students from Dubious Practices

Friday, August 26th, 2016

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

Yesterday, the Department of Education used its power to impose new regulations and financial oversight on ITT Technical Institute  (ITT Tech), including prohibiting the chain of schools from enrolling additional students who use federal financial aid to finance their education. Christopher Nellum, Policy Director of Young Invincibles issued the following statement:

“The move by the Department of Education continues steady progress toward protecting students from predatory, for-profit institutions like ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges. The Department’s decision will help  ensure that hardworking and committed students, who invest significantly in order to attend college, will no longer be harmed by deceptive practices. We commend the decision to prevent ITT from enrolling additional students with taxpayer dollars, and we are hopeful that students currently enrolled will have strong academic and financial options moving forward.”

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Young Invincibles, Assem. Weber, Students and Advocates Hail Final Passage of Campus Hunger Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 23, 2016

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

Young Invincibles, Assem.Weber and Advocates Hail Final Passage of Campus Hunger Bill 

The measure would ensure greater access to food resources for vulnerable students on California college campuses

SACRAMENTO, CA — Young Invincibles joined Assem. Weber (D-San Diego), students and fellow activists in hailing final passage of AB 1747 out of the California state legislature. If signed into law, the measure would eliminate bureaucratic barriers that prevent the Golden State’s most vulnerable students from accessing food resources on its college campuses. It now heads to Governor Brown for his signature.

“We are very pleased AB 1747 has achieved successful passage with strong support. AB 1747 allows the state to take a few small steps to reduce hunger and increase college completion for thousands of  California students,” said Gustavo Herrera, Western Director of Young Invincibles, a Millennial research and advocacy group leading organizing efforts for AB 1747. “We know that hunger and economic deprivation result in higher dropout rates for our most vulnerable students. By maximizing federal food assistance received and spent in California through AB 1747, we can not only ensure more students can access college, but also ensure they complete their degrees. We urge Governor Brown to sign this common-sense measure into law.”

“Nearly a quarter of students in the CSU system and nearly 20 percent of UC students are facing food insecurity,” Assem.Weber, AB 1747’s lead legislative sponsor said. “California should be finding solutions to support low-income college students, reduce hardships, and remove economic barriers to graduation. While some campuses are stepping up to address food insecurity and homelessness, many are not. AB 1747 is a vital step in connecting students with available resources to help improve campus climate and a student’s overall academic success.”

Frequently, students who’ve overcome significant challenges to attend college go hungry when they come to campus. For them, CalFresh, California’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), has proven difficult to access. AB 1747 would address challenges students face accessing CalFresh, which provides federally funded food benefits for low-income Californians. Newly implemented state laws (AB 1930, Chaptered Bills of 2014) reduce barriers to application for CalFresh for low-income college students, but many students still don’t know about the rule change or how to apply.

“Vulnerable students who have made it to college are among California’s best and brightest students, and they shouldn’t be undermined by the indignity of hunger,” said Jessica Bartholow, policy advocate for Western Center on Law and Poverty, a co-sponsor of the bill. “AB 1747 takes meaningful steps toward protecting these college students from hunger and state investments in their education.”

Today’s legislative action is welcome news for current and former students for whom this issue is all too familiar. One advocate added, “I am shocked that almost 20 years later, food insecurity is still a major obstacle in beginning, thriving and completing one’s education,” said Kathleen Selke, an advocate working with Young Invincibles. “And with tuition and fees at both 4-year and 2-year institutions having risen 28 percent since the beginning of the 2008 financial crisis,  I fear for future students, including my four younger siblings who have yet to complete school as my experience discouraged them from going to college. With college tuition costing so much, something has to give and it shouldn’t be students’ health.  I am pleased to see our state’s lawmakers recognize the need for AB1747 and have taken action to ensure that we make providing students with the basic support they need while completing their degrees, such as access to affordable food, a priority.”

Should AB 1747 be signed into law, it would establish a fund to support partnerships between food banks and on-campus food kitchens and allow local partnerships to improve on-campus pantry food safety and increase the amount of food available. It would also allow for more information about on-campus pantries and will help the California Department of Social Services better serve low-income college students most at risk of dropping out of school.

California colleges have already taken steps to understand the growing student hunger crisis on campus. Senate passage follows the release of data pointing to a growing hunger crisis on California college campuses. According to a Cal State study released this year, one in four students go hungry on the system’s campuses. Another survey from the University of California Student Association found that 19 percent of UC students indicated they had “very low” food security. As a result of the survey, UC’s President Janet Napolitano approved $3.3 million in new funding over the next two years to help students access food on and off campus.

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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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2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (August 4, 2016): Keeping tabs on higher education debates

2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (August 4, 2016)

Good Thursday morning! With the Olympic Games set to kick off in Rio this week, the electorate will largely be distracted these next few weeks — focusing their attention on Team USA, not Teams Trump or Clinton. How will the campaigns cut through the clutter to deliver important messages through the end of the month? We shall wait and see. Please share this week’s memo, and encourage your friends and colleagues to stay in the loop by signing up for updates here.

TRUMP TO RELEASE COLLEGE DEBT PLAN: “Trump said he would announce his plan to address college debt in four weeks. During [a] press conference, Trump accused colleges of viewing students simply as a “conduit” for federal loans and went on to say that he would help students even if that idea “doesn’t fit beautifully into the Republican framework.” “The saddest thing I see is these students are leveraged, [with] debt up to their necks,” he said. “They can’t breathe, they’re scared, they’re so scared — they have leveraged their entire life.” It’s hard to know exactly what Trump’s student debt and college affordability plan would look like. “Nothing to add at this time,” campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks wrote in an email when asked for more details on Trump’s proposal. Most of Trump’s comments related to higher education thus far have been defenses of his real estate seminar program, Trump University, which is facing multiple lawsuits. But a close reading of the tea leaves provides some inklings of what his proposal might look like. Trump accused the government of profiting off student loans during a Twitter chat last year, calling the situation “not fair” and adding “we’re going to make it really good for the student.” Trump’s team has given other hints that he would curtail the government’s role in student lending. Sam Clovis, the national co-chair and policy director for Trump’s campaign, told Inside Higher Ed earlier this year that the campaign is considering requiring colleges to be on the hook in some way for loans made to their students (that idea made it into Clinton’s plan as well) and giving private banks a bigger role in an overhauled federal student loan system.” (MarketWatch, July 27, 2016)

SUMMARY JUDGEMENT DENIED IN TRUMP U CASE: “Late Tuesday afternoon, Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel denied Donald Trump’s motion for summary judgment in the Trump University case, finding instead that there is enough evidence to move forward with the case.  The class action lawsuit alleges that Trump University defrauded students out of thousands of dollars. Judge Curiel also found that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Trump “knowingly participated” in the “scheme to defraud” and whether he made representations that were “false and misleading.” Trump’s attorney filed a motion to essentially get the case dismissed, stating that Trump was not integrally involved in the running of the organization, and that evidence from depositions showed that there was not enough to proceed with the case. In a separate order, Judge Curiel ruled against media organizations seeking to get Trump’s videotaped deposition released.  Trump sate for two depositions under oath in December and January. Trump’s attorneys argued that releasing the videotapes could taint the jury pool, whereas the media organizations argued it was in the public interest to release the videotapes.” (Law Newz, August 2, 2016)

CLINTON ALIGNS HERSELF WITH SANDERS, TOUCHES ON COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY, IN DNC SPEECH: “If we invest in infrastructure now, we’ll not only create jobs today, but lay the foundation for the jobs of the future. And we will transform the way we prepare our young people for those jobs. Bernie Sanders and I will work together to make college tuition-free for the middle class and debt-free for all!   We will also liberate millions of people who already have student debt. It’s just not right that Donald Trump can ignore his debts, but students and families can’t refinance theirs.” (LA Times, July 28, 2016)

PRIVATE COLLEGE INDUSTRY PUSHES BACK ON CLINTON PLAN: “Clinton’s “plan is facing significant blowback from private, nonprofit colleges, who warn that the tuition help for public schools would reverse decades of federal policy, undercut private institutions and spur an exodus of middle-class students that would turn private schools into bastions of the rich… There are about 1,600 private colleges across the U.S., and they enroll about one in five college students. Private colleges compete directly with public colleges for students and that competition would get a lot harder if public schools are suddenly free… [Responding to criticism of the campaign’s plan,] spokesman Jesse Ferguson stressed that Clinton has a “comprehensive” college plan “that includes support for students at private colleges, as well as public, including lower interest rate loans, the ability to refinance existing loans, support for student-parents, debt forgiveness for AmeriCorps [volunteers], and a year-round Pell grant, to name just some.”” (Politico, August 2, 2016))

CLINTON HIGHER ED ADVISOR CALLS FOR FOCUSING STUDENT DEBT CONVERSATION ON NON-COMPLETERS: “The Urban Institute’s Sandy Baum, who advised Secretary Clinton’s campaign on her higher education plan said: “I think what is most important is for people to understand that the common image of the student loan problem really misses the point… People have an image of a recent bachelor’s degree recipient who went to college for four years and is now 22-23 years old and is working at Starbucks. Those people are very rare. People who earn bachelor’s degrees, by and large, do fine. The problem is that we have a lot of people actually borrowing small amounts of money, going to college, not completing [a degree] or completing credentials that don’t have labor market value. They tend to be older. They tend to come from disadvantaged, middle-income families and they’re struggling. [But] not because they owe a lot of money.” (NPR, July 28, 2016)

THOUSANDS COMMENT ON DEPT. OF ED’S PROPOSED FEDERAL LOAN DISCHARGE RULE: “The U.S. Department of Education has received more than 10,000 comments in response to a proposed rule for federal loan forgiveness for students whose colleges have defrauded them. The deadline for submitting comments was 11:59 p.m. Aug. 1.The department released the new proposed regulations, known as defense to repayment, in June in response to the collapse of Corinthian Colleges. Among the main requirements of the proposed rules: colleges and universities must provide warnings to students about poor loan repayment rates and set aside money for loan forgiveness. Most critically, they lay out a path for the government to forgive students’ debt when they claim they were defrauded by their institution. But a number of groups representing a range of public and private colleges are raising concerns about whether they would be applied too broadly. A primary focus of those groups is the possibility that the definition of misrepresentation in the rules could be interpreted extremely loosely and applied to nearly every college and university in the country. Other groups have been broadly receptive to the proposals and even called for certain measures to be strengthened. The Institute for College Access and Success released a letter with the backing of 56 organizations advocating for students, consumers and other interest groups affected by potential loan regulations that applauded the protections included in the draft proposal. But the letter said loopholes in sections on predispute arbitration and class-action claims would leave some borrowers unprotected.” (Inside Higher Ed, August 2, 2016)

WHAT WOULD FREE COLLEGE COST?: “The Sanders campaign had previously estimated the cost of free college for all at $75 billion, and proposed a tax on Wall Street transactions to pay for it. But when you’re talking about government subsidies for anything, the math isn’t simple. States have relied on large annual tuition increases for decades. Tuition has risen 40 percent in the last 10 years at four-year public colleges and universities, as Hillary Clinton’s campaign notes. To avoid signing a federal blank check that rises each year, Clinton’s platform talks about getting buy-in from colleges and states to rein in costs. The Department of Education might use accreditation or eligibility for federal financial aid as carrots or sticks to encourage states to keep tuition low. Eliminating four-year college tuition would inevitably mean handing free money to some families that can afford to pay. On the other hand, the current means-tested financial aid program requires low-income students to jump through lots of hoops, like dealing with the daunting FAFSA form, to prove their status and maximize their aid. Many can’t navigate the system and fall out along the way.” (WBEZ, July 28, 2016)

MAJORITY OF STUDENT BORROWERS BEWILDERED BY REPAYMENT PROCESS: “The latest [National Financial Capability Study (NFCS)] data find that about one-in-five loan holders do not know the terms of their student loans. For example, they can’t say whether their monthly payments are determined by their income. And the majority (54%) of borrowers did not calculate their monthly payments when they took out their most recent loan. The new data also show that 48% of loan holders fear they will be unable to pay off that debt. If they could go back in time, a whopping 53% of student-loan holders say they would do it differently. Financial-literacy education, starting as early as elementary school, won’t help current loan holders but it will prepare the next generations of students. For example, one new question tucked into the survey was designed to measure knowledge of interest compounding in the context of debt. What it reveals could explain why people are ending up with such surprising amounts of debt: Only 33% of respondents know that it takes less than five years for debt to double if one borrows at a 20% interest rate. When it comes to financial capability, the field is wide open to help people and, in particular, the young get savvy about their personal finances. Financial education is key to repairing our economy’s weak link.” (MarketWatch, July 31, 2016)

DEPT. OF ED SHUTS DOWN THREE FOR-PROFIT MEDTECH CAMPUSES: “The U.S. Department of Education [cut] off federal student financial aid for three MedTech College campuses…because MedTech officials allegedly lied about job placement rates at the three schools. The three MedTech campuses, which enroll a total of about 750 students, received about $16 million in Pell Grants and federal student loans for the 2014–15 award year, according to the U.S. Department of Education. MedTech made “numerous misrepresentations” to its accreditor, the department, and to the public regarding the career outcomes of its graduates.” (Diverse Education, July 26, 2016)
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2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (July 28, 2016): Keeping tabs on higher education debates

2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (July 28, 2016)

Good morning! As convention season comes to a close and families scramble to write tuition checks, look for back to school to play a prominent role throughout the month of August. It’s go-time in the race for Millennial voters’ support. Please share this week’s Millennial Memo, and encourage your colleagues and friends to stay in the know, sign up for updates here.

SANDERS ON COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY IN DNC SPEECH: “This election is about the thousands of young people I have met all over this country, the thousands that I have met who have left college deeply in debt, and tragically the many others who cannot afford to go to college. During the primary campaign, Secretary Clinton and I both focused on this issue but with somewhat different approaches. Recently, however, we have come together on a proposal that will revolutionize higher education in America. It will guarantee that the children of any family in this country with an annual income of $125,000 a year or less – 83 percent of our population – will be able to go to a public college or university tuition-free. That proposal also substantially reduces student debt.” (NPR, July 25, 2016)

ANALYSIS COUNTERS REPORT THAT COLLEGE STUDENTS SPEND VERY LITTLE TIME ON ACADEMICS: According to a new Heritage Foundation report, students are being paid to “slack off. The report…looked at data from the American Time Use Survey (sponsored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics) and concluded that full-time college students spend just eight hours a week in class and just 19 hours a week on any kind of educational activity at all, including homework and extracurricular activities. Even students who don’t work spend just 25 hours a week on education. But the study extrapolates far too much from far too little evidence. There are also other key gaps. The survey only tracks each person for one day, so we don’t know whether a student who doesn’t have a job one semester might have one the next. And importantly for the authors’ thesis, the survey doesn’t track who receives student aid, so there is no way to know whether subsidized loans are encouraging students to work or study less. There are hints that they don’t: Low-income students, who generally receive the most generous subsidies, spend more time studying than any other group.” (FiveThirtyEight, July 22, 2016)

WAPO DETAILS KAINE HIGHER ED RECORD AS VIRGINIA GOV: “Timothy M. Kaine backed a major construction initiative for public colleges during his four years as Virginia governor and oversaw increases for higher education funding until economic recession squeezed state spending midway through his term. As governor, Kaine left a mark on higher education in Virginia. He consoled Virginia Tech after a gunman killed 32 students, faculty and staff members on campus in 2007 in what was at the time the deadliest mass shooting in the nation’s history. Kaine also made numerous appointments to college boards, perhaps none more significant than his choice in 2008 of Virginia Beach home builder Helen E. Dragas to fill a seat on the University of Virginia Board of Visitors. In December 2007, Kaine proposed borrowing $1.65 billion to support construction projects at public colleges and universities — an initiative described at the time as the largest proposal of its kind in state history. The legislature in April 2008 approved a bond initiative totaling $1.5 billion, mostly benefiting higher education. At the outset of his term, Kaine oversaw funding increases for higher education. Data from the State Higher Education Executive Officers shows that Virginia   provided public appropriations of $6,856 per full-time college student in 2007, up from $6,145 in 2005 before Kaine took office. (Figures were adjusted for inflation.) But state funding ebbed after the nation plunged into recession in 2007-08. The appropriation per student fell to $6,314 in 2009 — Kaine’s final full year in office — and $5,561 in 2010.” (Washington Post, July 25, 2016)

HECHINGER ANALYSIS ON ROLE OF STATES VIS-A-VIS DEM HIGHER ED PROPOSAL: “Tuition is a little more than one-third of the actual cost of attending most state colleges, according to federal data. Students, then, can be on the hook for up to an additional $15,000 after tuition – and that’s why student debt has been rising so fast. Back in 1980, Pell grants covered 77 percent of the cost of attending a four-year public university, but by 2011 that had dropped to barely one-third of the cost, according to The Education Trust. Student debt now averages about $30,000 per student. Students with children can be hit even harder, juggling work, childcare costs and college. More than a quarter of all college students are raising kids. Single mothers comprise 43 percent of students raising children and single fathers 11 percent. Clinton says that her proposal to expand funding for on-campus child care centers would open 250,000 new spots for children of college students. She’s also offering a maximum of $1,500 a year to up to one million students to defray transportation and child care costs. It’s not clear from the platform how the Democrats would or could implement their pledge to increase state funding for college. Most of the funding decisions – such as tuition rates and financial support for public colleges and universities – take place at the state level. The Democrats’ higher education platform may indeed solidify, and even excite, their traditional base, but it’s unclear how much of it will become policy. Even if it does, it’s equally unclear whether it would increase the number of low-income Americans who earn college degrees.” (The Hechinger Report, July 25, 2016)

FAFSA UPDATES SIMPLIFY FILING PROCESS: “For the 2017-18 academic year, people can turn in the FAFSA as early as Oct. 1, 2016. [And] students and their families will use their financial information from the 2015 tax year to fill out the FAFSA. The idea is that this will make it easier to fill out the form earlier. It also allows more people to take advantage of the IRS Data Retrieval tool. It transfers your tax information to the FAFSA, but because many people have traditionally filled out the FAFSA before completing their taxes, that tool hasn’t been as helpful as it could be. ‘This will simplify the FAFSA, cutting about a page of questions from the form,’ Mark Kantrowitz, said in an email to Credit.com. ‘Also, any data element that is transferred unmodified from the IRS will not be subject to verification … This is especially important for low-income students, who often have difficulty completing verification.’ ‘The switch to prior-prior year also increases the amount of time available to apply for financial aid, from 18 months to 21 months,’ Kantrowitz said. He said he hoped the earlier availability of the form would lead to more low-income students filing their FAFSAs early, consequently allowing them to qualify for more state aid. Changes to how people apply for federal student aid hardly solves the burden of rising education costs and the ever-growing student loan debt in the U.S., but they simplify a process that many people find intimidating.” (Marketwatch, July 20, 2016)

FEDS WORK FOR STUDENT LOAN SERVICER ACCOUNTABILITY: “The Obama administration is taking a hard line on the contractors it uses to collect federal student loan payments, threatening to withhold compensation or new business if companies fail to adhere to new standards for servicing over a trillion dollars in student debt. On Wednesday, the Department of Education issued guidance directing the head of its financial arm, James Runcie, to hold student loan servicers accountable for borrowers receiving accurate, consistent and timely information about their debt. The 56-page memo calls for the creation of financial incentives for targeted outreach to people at great risk of defaulting on their loans, a baseline level of service for all borrowers and a contract flexible enough to penalize servicers for poor service, among other things. Researchers at the Government Accountability Office found that 70 percent of people in default actually qualified for a lower monthly payment through income-driven plans that cap monthly payments to a percentage of earnings, but servicers are failing to provide sufficient information about the options. Even when the contractors reach out to delinquent borrowers, the information is often inconsistent.” (Washington Post, July 20, 2016)

SENATE SPECIAL

ILLINOIS–DUCKWORTH HIGHLIGHTS FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE: “Duckworth sat down with WGIL for an in-depth interview and took aim at Kirk on a number of issues, including his opposition of free community college.The Hoffman Estates Democrat says her opponent ‘calls free education a hand out’ and she ‘couldn’t disagree more.’ ‘You’ve got Carl Sandburg College that is such a great feeder program and then you’ve got Knox College right there,’ Duckworth says. ‘We could find ways to make certain programs at Sandburg free community college so that anyone who qualifies can go to school for free. It helps lower that debt burden so that we don’t have people from college graduating with huge student loan debt.’” (WGIL, July 17, 2016)

NORTH CAROLINA–2016 IS BURR’S LAST SENATE RACE: “Burr, 60, told the Tar Heel State GOP delegation Wednesday morning that he would not be running again for the Senate after this November. The decision to not run again after 2016, Burr said, came down to his age and a desire to eventually return to the private sector and spend more time with his family.” Burr ranks high on the Senate Education committee. (Stars and Stripes, July 20, 2016)

NEVADA–CORTEZ MASTO TOUTS DISCUSSING COST OF HIGHER ED WITH FUTURE COLLEGE STUDENTS:
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2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (July 20, 2016): Keeping tabs on higher education debates

2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (July 20, 2016)

Happy Wednesday, folks. What a whirlwind of a week! Wishing everyone safe travels to/from Cleveland and Philly. Read this week’s roundup to stay in the know about all things 2016, Millennial voters, and higher ed. Feel free to share this bulletin with your colleagues and friends, and encourage them to sign up for updates here.

WHAT ROLE WILL COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY HAVE AT RNC? “Debt-ridden graduates, and families of current and future college students will want to listen for any firm student loans proposals that might emerge from this week’s Republican National Convention. Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump has no major policy statements about student debt on his website. But some of his ideas have trickled out in stump speeches and interviews. Sam Clovis, the national co-chair and policy director of Trump’s campaign, said Trump is considering a complete overhaul of the federal student loan program, taking government out of the lending business and restoring the role of private banks, according to the Inside Higher Ed website. Other proposals being considered by Trump would require colleges to share in the risk of student loans and discourage borrowing by liberal arts majors, Inside Higher Ed says.” (Bankrate, July 18, 2016)

REPUBLICAN PARTY RELEASES PLATFORM, OUTLINES GOALS FOR HIGHER ED: At the Republican National Convention on Monday, the Republican Party voted to adopt its party platform, which outlines the party’s issue stances until the next election. See the full platform here.

Improving Higher Education
Our colleges, universities, and trade schools, large and small, public and private, form the world’s greatest assemblage of learning. They drive much of the research that keeps America competitive and, by admitting large numbers of foreign students, convey our values and culture to the world. Their excellence is undermined by an ideological bias deeply entrenched within the current university system. Whatever the solution may be in private institutions, in state schools the trustees have a responsibility to the taxpayers to ensure that their enormous investment is not abused for political indoctrination. We call on state officials to preserve our public colleges, universities, and trade schools as places of learning and the exchange of ideas, not zones of intellectual intolerance or “safe zones,” as if college students need protection from the free exchange of ideas. A student’s First Amendment rights do not end at the schoolhouse gates. Colleges, universities, and trade schools must not infringe on their freedom of speech and association in the name of political correctness. We condemn the campus-based BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) campaign against Israel. It is anti-Semitism and should be denounced by advocates of academic freedom.

College Costs
The cost of a college education has long been on an unsustainable trajectory, rising year by year far ahead of inflation. Nationwide, student debt now exceeds credit card debt with average debt levels per student totaling roughly $27,000. Delinquency rates on student loans are now as high as they were on subprime mortgages during the housing crisis. Over half of recent college grads are unemployed or underemployed, working at jobs for which their expensive educations gave them no preparation. We need new systems of learning to compete with traditional four-year schools: Technical institutions, online universities, life-long learning, and work- based learning in the private sector. Public policy should advance their affordability, innovation, and transparency and should recognize that a four-year degree from a brick-and-mortar institution is not the only path toward a prosperous and fulfilling career. The federal government should not be in the business of originating student loans. In order to bring down college costs and give students access to a multitude of financing options, private sector participation in student financing should be restored. Any regulation that increases college costs must be challenged to balance its worth against its negative economic impact on students and their families. In order to encourage new modes of higher education delivery to enter the market, accreditation should be decoupled from federal financing, and states should be empowered to allow a wide array of accrediting and credentialing bodies to operate. This model would foster innovation, bring private industry into the credentialing market, and give students the ability to customize their college experience.”

CLINTON ON PENCE’S HIGHER ED RECORD: “As Indiana faced a budget shortfall, Pence signed a law giving huge tax cuts to Indiana corporations. Just months later, he tried to balance the books by cutting millions out of Indiana’s higher education budget. His record on  education is dismal generally.” (Hillary for America, July 15, 2016)

STEIN CALLS FOR QUANTITATIVE EASING PACKAGE TO PAY FOR CANCELING STUDENT DEBT: In an MSNBC interview, Dr. Jill Stein states she would cancel student debt if elected president. When asked how she would do that, Dr. Stein says: “What you can do is a quantitative easing. How did we bail out Wall Street? We gave them $4.5 trillion and more in a quantitative easing, which actually it doesn’t cost the taxpayers. It’s essentially expanding the money supply, which is a terrible thing to do unless you have made the economy more productive, which is exactly what we would do by wiping out the debt for young people.” Watch the clip here at 3:53. (MSNBC, July 14, 2016)

PODESTA HOPES SANDERS WILL HIT CAMPAIGN TRAIL TO ENGAGE YOUNG VOTERS: “He said he wants to send Bernie Sanders, who gave Clinton a full-throated endorsement last week, out on a college campus speaking tour through the fall, as part of a millennial get-out-the-vote operation. “We’d like him to spend time in battleground states and do college campuses,” Podesta said of Sanders, who enjoys massive popularity with the under-30 set, the same segment of the population Clinton has struggled to enthuse. “But he’s got some places that are not on our map that he wants to do for congressional races, like California.”” (Politico, July 18, 2016)

GOP LAWMAKERS CALL FOR REVIEW OF BILL CLINTON TIES TO FOR-PROFIT U: “Dozens of House Republicans, led by Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, ask[ed] the feds Friday to investigate the Clinton Foundation — including the Clintons’ ties to Laureate Education, a for-profit college chain. A letter to the FBI, IRS and FTC, signed by more than 65 lawmakers, ask[ed] the agencies to review allegations ‘pursuant to your jurisdictional charge.’ They say ‘unresolved media reports’ suggest the foundation is a ‘lawless ‘pay to play’ enterprise.’ Former President Bill Clinton was paid $16.5 million to serve as honorary chancellor of Laureate International Universities, and Laureate has donated money to the Clinton Foundation, the letter says. In addition, it says that the International Youth Foundation, an organization focused on training and educating young people for the workforce, is ‘run by’ Laureate founder Douglas Becker, and received over $55 million in USAID grants from 2010 to 2012. Blackburn is a Trump ally and is scheduled to speak at the RNC convention next week in Cleveland. The lawmakers’ letter follows a similar line of attack made last month by Donald Trump against the foundation and its ties to Laureate. The accuracy of the comments were challenged by outlets such as Politifact and the Washington Post’s fact checker.” (Politico, July 15, 2016)

CLINTON CAMPAIGN RESPONDS: According to Politico, “Josh Schwerin, a Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman, called the letter ‘another baseless political attack from House Republicans.’”

SENATE SPECIAL 

OHIO–NEW PORTMAN CAMPAIGN VIDEO SPOTLIGHTS STUDENT VOLUNTEERS & INTERNS: Watch the ad featuring many of his 500 summer interns, who are both high school and college students, here.

NEW HAMPSHIRE–HASSAN COMMENDS WARREN ON STANCE AGAINST FOR-PROFIT COLLEGES:

WISCONSIN–FEINGOLD TIES STUDENT DEBT TO DELAYS IN HOME OWNERSHIP:
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