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


January 3rd, 2016

CONTACT: Sarah Schultz,, 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)


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)

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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 ‘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)


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)

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Young Invincibles Applauds Bipartisan House Passage of FAFSA Simplification


Monday, July 11, 2016

CONTACT: Nina Smith,, 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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Young Invincibles: House Labor-H Bill Threatens Higher Education Access For Hardworking Students and Families


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

CONTACT: Nina Smith,, 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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2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (May 25, 2016): Keeping tabs on higher education debates

2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (May 25, 2016)

Good Wednesday morning, everyone. With a recent poll showing Libertarian party candidate, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson (R-NM), surging into double digits in a Clinton versus Trump matchup — meaning we may see him on the debate stage this fall, here’s a look at where the candidate has stood on higher education issues in the past. With the poll finding nearly 1 in 5 young voters saying they would vote for Governor Johnson, will they appreciate his views on student debt? We’ll see.

We’re 53 days away from the RNC, 60 days away from the DNC, and 166 days away from Election Day. Share this week’s roundup with your friends and colleagues, and sign up for updates here.

IN 2012, JOHNSON SAID “MY PLANS DON’T INCLUDE DOING ANYTHING WHEN IT COMES TO STUDENT LOANS”: In a virtual Q&A chat with a young person during his 2012 campaign, former New Mexico Governor and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson said, “my plans don’t include doing anything when it comes to student loans.” Governor Johnson then goes on to blame high tuition prices because the government guarantees student loans. Watch the full clip here.

ELIMINATING THE DEPT OF EDUCATION IS THE BEST THING THE FEDERAL GOVT CAN DO TO IMPROVE EDUCATION, SAYS JOHNSON: Speaking at a UCDC town hall during his 2012 campaign, Governor Johnson posited: “What is the best thing the federal government could do when it comes to education in this country? I think it’s to abolish the federal Department of Education.” Johnson goes on to acknowledge and accept that some states would perform miserably if the Department were eliminated. Watch the full clip here.

TRUMP SAYS HE GETS MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT STUDENT DEBT THAN ANY OTHER ISSUE: In a recent town hall with Hardball host Chris Matthews, Donald Trump said that he gets more questions about student debt than any other issue. Trump goes on to promise borrowers that he will offer extensions and lower interest rates. Catch the full video here.

NEW BLOG FROM THE CLINTON CAMPAIGN SEEKS TO SHOW BORROWER SAVINGS UNDER HER PLAN: The blog reads: “The graduating class of 2016 is slated to be the most indebted in U.S. history—and loan balances are disproportionately high for low-income students, including students of color. So how does student debt really affect your bottom line in the long run? It’s more than you might expect. The average undergraduate in the class of 2014 who took out loans borrowed just over $28,950. Paid back over 20 years at the unsubsidized federal loan rate, he or she would owe $186.00 per month. Those payments—every month for two decades—really add up. For instance: If you put that money in a savings account, you’d have more than $11,000 saved in just five years. If you invested that money in a mutual fund for 10 years, you could bank more than $27,000. And if you put all of those monthly payments in a 401(k), you could have $86,000 put aside for retirement in 20 years.” But not everyone was a fan of the Clinton campaign’s math. Brookings’ Beth Akers released her own blog, responding to the campaign’s original post (that has since been taken down), which makes the case that not all student debt is bad debt.

FORMER FDIC CHAIR & NOW COLLEGE PRESIDENT, SHEILA BAIR, ON TRUMP HIGHER ED PLAN: “Trump’s education advisor [suggested] that federal aid should be restricted for any student pursuing an ‘esoteric’ liberal arts degree… 45% of degrees offered by [the Bair-led] Washington College last year were in business, the STEM disciplines, and economics – which by the way, IS a liberal art and also Trump’s chosen major in college. Yes, we also have English, Philosophy and (gasp) fine arts majors, yet they find good jobs in finance, technology or go on to graduate or professional schools… Trump’s advisor sets forth many good ideas for student aid reform, including radical simplification of the application process and “skin in the game” requirements for colleges. He is right that colleges should bear some of the losses if their student loans default. But if student defaults are his concern, why pick on liberal arts colleges? Private non-profit colleges have the lowest default rates – 7%, compared to 9% for public four-year colleges, 18% for for-profit schools, and 23% for public two-year institutions… But most problematic is that his idea will effectively relegate access to liberal arts degrees to the wealthy elite… Without access to federal aid, low-income students will have to forgo pursuing a liberal arts degree.” (Fortune, May 17, 2016)


NEW HAMPSHIRE–AYOTTE CAMPAIGN INTERN PRAISES THE SENATOR IN AN LTE ON HER PRIVATE REFI BILL: In this past Sunday’s Concord Monitor, NH college student and Ayotte campaign intern, Ryan Smith of Northfield, wrote: “College. It’s expensive, and as a college student one thing I do not have is money. A life of Ramen and Mountain Dew is not the healthiest lifestyle, but it’s what fits the budget. I realize that college should not be a free ride, but it’s a little overwhelming to be in so much debt before the first job. That stress is present even in the best colleges in the country. That’s why I was grateful to learn that our senator, Kelly Ayotte, was working on ways to help students like me better afford higher education. She has put forth legislation that would help lower the interest rates on the loans I have and make it easier to repay my loans once I am done with school. With a few more dollars in my pocket and ditching the debt burden sooner, I can start saving for a more successful future. That’s thanks in large part to the work Sen. Ayotte is doing in the Senate.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE–AYOTTE SIGNS ON TO COONS-KING-PORTMAN BILL TO FORGIVE TAX ON STUDENT LOANS FORGIVEN DUE TO DEATH OR DISABILITY: Last month, Senator Ayotte signed on as a co-sponsor of S.2800, the Stop Taxing Death & Disability Act. With Ayotte putting veterans issues front and center in her campaign and NH having the highest student debt per graduate of any state in the country, watch for this bill to remain in the spotlight this cycle.

NEW HAMPSHIRE–HASSAN CAMPAIGN & SURROGATES TOUT HER SIGNING OF A BILL TO EXTEND IN-STATE TUITION RATES TO VETS: A coordinated push by the Hassan campaign and its surrogates to layout the Governor’s record on veterans issues is focusing in on Governor Hassan signing a bill enabling veterans to take advantage of in-state tuition rates at New Hampshire public colleges and universities.

MISSOURI–KANDER CITES SUPPORT OF “BAN THE BOX” LEGISLATION AND INCREASING ACCESS TO HIGHER ED AS WAYS TO REDUCE RACIAL INEQUALITY: In a candidate questionnaire from the 15th Ward Democrats, Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander said this when asked about how he would improve racial equity: “Eliminating the school-to-prison pipeline should be a top priority in Congress, and I will work to improve education in underfunded school districts to empower young people and improve access to higher education. To decrease recidivism, Congress should support federal legislation in line with ‘Ban the Box’ proposals to increase opportunities for individuals who have been incarcerated. I am proud that I have ‘Banned the Box’ in the Secretary of State’s office.”

PENNSYLVANIA–McGINTY PRESS RELEASE BLAMES STUDENT DEBT ON TOOMEY’S PELL & REFI VOTES: In a new press release out from the McGinty Campaign says: “at a time when college tuition costs are skyrocketing and Pennsylvania students are graduating with the third highest average student debt in the country, Pat Toomey… voted in support of a budget that included the largest reduction in Pell Grants in history and opposed a bill that would have permitted students to refinance student loans.”

WISCONSIN–FEINGOLD NAMES COST OF HIGHER ED & PRESCRIPTION DRUGS TOP TWO ISSUES HE HEARS ABOUT ON THE TRAIL: Speaking on WXPR radio, Feingold said, “I would say of all the things I hear in terms of anxiety around the state, the cost of higher education and the cost of prescription drugs upsets people in all 72 counties.”


CA-24–CARBAJAL SAYS HE WOULD “FORCE THE BANKS TO REFINANCE STUDENT LOANS”: In a new ad called “Standing Up” from DCCC-backed Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal, Carbajal casts the banks as the foil to the United States’ student loan problem. In the ad, a narrator says: “young people are getting crushed by student loan debt while Wall Street banks charge high interest rates. Carbajal says it’s time to force the banks to refinance student loans, saving students and their families thousands — money that should be helping young people start their lives, not line Wall Street’s pockets.”

IA-03–DEM CANDIDATES WEIGH IN ON COLLEGE COSTS & STUDENT DEBT: The Des Moines Register’s Kathie Obradovich rapid fire tweeted a recent exchange among the Democratic candidates from Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District on how they would address higher education issues. This is what you need to know:
Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 4.08.41 PM
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2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (May 18, 2016): Keeping tabs on higher education debates

2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (May 18, 2016)
And we’re back! One primary down, one to go. We’re 60 days until Cleveland, 67 days until Philadelphia, and 173 days until Election Day. I’ll keep this brief — there is a lot to catch up on in this week’s bulletin. Please share this week’s edition, encourage your colleagues to sign up for updates, and follow us on Twitter here.
PREVIEWING TRUMP’S HIGHER ED PLAN: Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik scored a rare interview with Trump campaign co-chair and policy advisor, Sam Clovis, who outlines the candidate’s plans to fix higher education. If you haven’t already, you’ll want to read this in full. Of note from the piece: “While final decisions have not been made on when the ideas will be formally unveiled, not to mention many details worked out, Clovis said the Trump campaign expects higher education to be a major issue in the fall general election.”
BURLINGTON COLLEGE TO SHUT DOWN, BLAMES DEBT INCURRED FROM LAND ACQUISITION UNDER FORMER HEAD JANE SANDERS: “Burlington College, the small Vermont institution led by Jane Sanders from 2004 to 2011… announced on Monday that it will shut down later this month, facing insurmountable financial difficulties… Many of the school’s financial difficulties date to Sanders’s tenure as president… In announcing the closure, the school blamed the ‘crushing weight of the debt’ from the purchase of a new campus in 2010, during Sanders’s tenure… The land was 33 acres on the shores of Lake Champlain. Ironically, the diocese was selling the land at the time because it was cash-strapped. The purchase was huge—especially for a school whose annual budget didn’t crack $4 million. Jane Sanders plan was to bet big. To finance the deal, Burlington issued tax-free bonds, took a $3.5 million loan from the diocese, and received a $500,000 bridge loan from Tony Pomerleau, a wealthy local real-estate developer and close friend of the Sanderses. But the land deal proved to be a white elephant.” (The Atlantic, May 15, 2016)
CLINTON ENDORSES NEW CFPB FORCED ARBITRATION PROPOSAL, WHICH WOULD CHECK ABUSES BY STUDENT LOAN LENDERS: “Hillary Clinton endors[ed] the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s plan to ban mandatory arbitration provisions in credit card and bank contracts… The regulation would allow more people to take their credit card and loan complaints to court as class action lawsuits, rather than being forced to argue their cases individually in front of closed arbitration panels. ‘With [this] proposal, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau takes aim at yet another unfair practice on Wall Street,’ Clinton said. ‘Mandatory arbitration clauses buried deep in contracts for credit cards, student loans, and more prevent American consumers from having their day in court when they’ve been harmed.’” (Money, May 5, 2016)
TRUMP UNIVERSITY “COACH” STEERED PITTSBURGH WOMAN INTO PONZI SCHEME: “Melissa Norris of Franklin Park said she is still trying to recover from the huge financial hit she took… In 2007, she spent $17,248 for a Trump University seminar in Florida….Cary Beagley, of Utah, was her coach. … She trusted Beagley because of Trump, who at the time said of Trump University’s teachers: ‘These are all people that are hand-picked by me.’ She said when Beagley told her to put her money into a company called Safevest, she did it. Eventually, she invested $230,000. But just six months later, the SEC called Safevest a fraud and a Ponzi scheme and won a court order shutting it down. Safevest ended up bankrupt, and Norris lost all her money. ‘I lost a lot of money because I trusted this organization and… I will not get anything back,’ she said… In 2011, three years after Norris lost her money, the state of Utah filed securities fraud charges against Beagley. He was accused of taking $150,000 [from pupils] who, like Norris, he coached in Trump University-licensed seminars… In 2008, she sued Trump University and Beagley in Allegheny County, but her case was thrown out because of a clause requiring her to arbitrate any dispute in Utah. …But Trump attorney Jill Martin said Trump University and Trump ‘did not ever hire Beagley or engage him as a contractor.’ So she said Trump University had no knowledge of Beagley’s criminal history.” Watch the full segment here. (WTAE, May 16, 2016)
GOV. MARTINEZ CALLS FOR REFORMS TO INCREASE COLLEGE GRAD RATES: “New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez still is pushing higher education reforms aimed at increasing college graduation rates. The Republican on Monday told New Mexico college and university administrators at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque that they should work toward limiting degree paths to 120 credit hours. She also wants them to consider new ways at helping high school graduates who aren’t ready for college… She told administrators at a higher education summit that universities needed to increase counseling efforts and reduce undergraduate degree programs to 120 hours.” (Santa Fe New Mexican, 5/9/2016)
CALIFORNIA–SANCHEZ & HARRIS CALL FOR EXPANDING PELL GRANTS & FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE: In a recent U.S. Senate debate at University of the Pacific, both Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez and Attorney General Kamala Harris called for increasing the value of Pell Grants and making community college free. Harris touted her experience cracking down on for-profit Corinthian Colleges, which she alleged engaged in predatory practices, while Congresswoman Sanchez said that [the government] should be working closer with “for-profit colleges who are doing a good job to train people up.” Catch the full higher education section of the debate starting at 22:20 here.
OHIO–PORTMAN HITS STRICKLAND FOR CUTS HE MADE TO HIGHER ED AS GOVERNOR: Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) continued running into the issue of higher education in his Senate race by releasing this new :60 second spot. The ad’s narrator says: “As governor, Ted Strickland cut funding for colleges and universities, reversing his promise to freeze tuition and driving up costs for students and parents.” The ad goes on to tout that the campaign has 30 Students for Portman groups at colleges and universities across Ohio.
IOWA & NEW HAMPSHIRE–GRASSLEY & AYOTTE JOIN BIPARTISAN GROUP ASKING TREASURY & IRS FOR CLARITY ON REFI OPTIONS FOR STUDENT LOANS OFFERED BY NONPROFIT LENDERS: In a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew & IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, Senators Chuck Grassley & Jack Reed — joined by 16 other Senators, including Kelly Ayotte — asked for “[clarity] that nonprofit lenders can use tax-exempt bonds to refinance student loans will expand the pool of lenders offering refinancing of student loans.  The members praised prior agency action in clarifying that such options are available and sought removal of remaining specific barriers to make even more students and their families potentially eligible for refinancing student debt at lower interest rates via tax-exempt bonds.”
ILLINOIS–DUCKWORTH DROPS “IN THE RED” BILL IN THE HOUSE: “U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth and congressional leaders are pushing a measure to help make college costs more affordable, according to a news release. The In the Red Act proposal calls for increasing Pell Grants, investing in community colleges and enabling more people to refinance student debt at lower interest rates. Duckworth introduced it in the House [at the end of last month]… A provision in the proposal would give 9.2 million students an additional $1,300 in grant funding to pay for college costs… ‘Sen. Kirk shares the concerns of parents and students in making college more affordable, which is why he has supported expanding grants for students and authored legislation that would create innovative tax-free savings accounts,’ said Kevin Artl, Kirk’s campaign manager in response to Duckworth’s proposal.” (Daily Herald, April 28, 2016)
NEVADA–CORTEZ MASTO CHIDES HECK FOR VOTING TO CUT TO PELL GRANTS: “‘You just have to look at his voting record. He has voted against Pell grants. He has not worked to address the issue of college affordability,’ [Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Catherine Cortez Masto] charged, pointing to [her opponent Rep. Joe] Heck’s vote on the last budget, which Democrats say would eliminate mandatory funding for Pell grants and freeze spending at their current levels. The Heck campaign says the Republican, who is still paying off his medical school loans, supports making college more affordable. ‘He worked to pass bipartisan, landmark legislation reforming and capping student loan interest rates for students and parents. Dr. Heck also introduced a bill to make the financial aid process easier for families, so more students can access the assistance they need to pursue higher education,’ Heck’s spokesperson, Brian Baluta, said in a statement to News 3.” (News3LV, April 26, 2016)
NEW HAMPSHIRE–HASSAN HIGHLIGHTS JOBS & HIGHER ED INITIATIVES IN STATE OF THE STATE MESSAGE: “[Gov. Hassan] outlined a new plan, Gateway to Work, which uses existing federal funds to help Granite Staters succeed in the workforce. ‘With this new initiative, we have the opportunity to help those on… state programs move into jobs that pay sustainable wages — lessening their need for public assistance.’ The program, she said, will involve more partnerships between the community college system and the business community to create apprenticeship programs in high-need areas such as advanced manufacturing, information technology networking, and health care. The state will provide employers with job-training grants and salary support for eligible workers for six weeks. ‘This will help ensure that workers can get a fair shot at a new career, while providing businesses with the workforce that they need to grow and thrive,’ Hassan said. Other measures include expanding after-school and summer youth employment programs for young people, including apprenticeships and on-the-job training.” (Conway Daily Sun, May 5, 2016)
NEW HAMPSHIRE–NH YOUNG DEMS TAKE AIM AT AYOTTE OVER STUDENT DEBT: Last week, “the New Hampshire Young Democrats held an anti-Ayotte rally on the University of New Hampshire campus focusing on the student loan issue. The group geo-targeted Facebook ads to the UNH campus and posted Snapchat photos of themselves and Thompson Hall filtered with mock chains, entitled ‘Lifetime of Debt.’” (WMUR, 5/10/2016)
NORTH CAROLINA–BURR UNVEILS NEW COLLEGE SAVINGS BILL: “The Boost Saving for College Act introduced by [Senators] Burr and Casey would help families pay for rising college costs, but it does not deal directly with the rates at which the costs are rising. Rather, the bill would create several ways that families could save for college or use unused savings for certain other purposes. Among its provisions: It would establish a tax credit of up to $2,000 for savings placed in 529 accounts, similar to the tax credit linked with retirement accounts[;] Employers could match an employee’s college-related contribution with a tax-deductible amount of up to $1,000[;] Families could roll unused college savings into retirement accounts, and [;] Families with disabled children could roll 529 account savings into an ABLE account. In this case, the money could be used for the cost of raising the children if they do not go to college. ‘The Boost Act is a common-sense bill that will expand ways for families to save and prepare for college so that they don’t have to rely so much on debt to get a college education,’ Burr said… [Burr’s opponent, Deborah] Ross supports 529 accounts, according to campaign spokesman Cole Leiter. Ross told the Winston-Salem Journal two weeks ago that she supports refinancing student loan debt, cracking down on private for-profit colleges that don’t have accreditation and providing initial free community colleges. In addition, Ross’ campaign aides highlighted several votes that she cast … Ross voted to extend a state income-tax deduction for families who use the deduction to save for college, according to Leiter.” (Winston-Salem Journal, 5/2/2016)
WISCONSIN–JOHNSON & BALDWIN SQUABBLE OVER STUDENT LOAN REFINANCING: “Baldwin is pushing legislation in the Republican-controlled Senate that would allow people with student debt to refinance their loans through the federal government… Johnson opposes more government involvement. ‘We already have dozens of programs that lower loan payments, tie things to income,’ he said. ‘There’s a recent Treasury Department study that showed of students who default on their loans, 70 percent qualified for one of these loan payment reduction programs. Some of them result in actual debt payment after 20 years or even 10 years.’ Baldwin addressed Johnson’s statement, and said the federal government needs to do something. ‘The idea of Republicans criticizing granting students the right to refinance their loans is actually limiting them, not expanding opportunities,’ she said.” (FOX 11, 5/1/2016)
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2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (April 27, 2016): Keeping tabs on higher education debates

2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (April 27, 2016)

Programming Note: I’m doing “field research” on the world’s perception of the U.S.’s elections over the next few weeks. Don’t worry, I’ll return in mid-May with a wrap-up of everything you missed while I am out. In the meantime, make sure to encourage your friends and colleagues to sign up for updates here and follow us on Twitter here.

CRUZ REPRESENTED STUDENT LOAN LENDER AGAINST BANKRUPT BORROWER: “Cruz hasn’t offered a plan to cut the cost of college and, in the Senate, opposed letting millions of Americans reduce their student loan payments. While working previously as a private lawyer in Houston, Cruz helped represent a lender who went to the Supreme Court to keep an Arizona man from avoiding interest payments on his student loans by filing for bankruptcy…. There, Cruz opposed Francisco Espinosa, an airline baggage handler who incurred more than $13,000 in debts to attend technical school in Arizona but then filed for bankruptcy – proposing to pay back the principal of his loan over time but not roughly $4,000 in interest. Cruz helped represent Espinosa’s lender and objected to bankruptcy protection because the original judge had not included a finding that paying back the loans with interest was an ‘undue hardship.’ A brief co-signed by Cruz argued that excusing interest payments could ‘open the floodgates’ and let others duck debts including ‘taxes, domestic support obligations, drunk driving personal injury and death liabilities and criminal fines and restitution.’ The case reached the Supreme Court, which ruled 9-0 against Cruz’s side.” (Associated Press, 4/23/2016)

BROOKINGS ANALYSIS FINDS HIGHER-INCOME STUDENTS WOULD BENEFIT 24 PERCENT MORE (IN DOLLAR VALUE) FROM SANDERS’ TUITION-“FREE COLLEGE”: A new analysis looking at who benefits from eliminating tuition and public colleges and universities finds that “families from the top half of the income distribution would receive 24 percent more in dollar value from eliminating tuition than students from the lower half of the income distribution. The non-tuition costs of attending college, including living expenses, are larger than the costs of tuition and fees for most students. Free college, which does not address these expenses, leaves families from the bottom half of the income distribution with nearly $18 billion in annual out-of-pocket college costs that would not be covered by existing federal, state, and institutional grant programs. Devoting new spending to eliminating tuition for all students involves a tradeoff with investing the same funds in targeted grant aid that would cover more of the total costs of attendance for students from less well-off families.” (Brookings, 4/21/2016)

AG’S REQUEST FOR SUMMARY JUDGEMENT IN NY LAWSUIT AGAINST TRUMP U IS DENIED, PUSHES THE STATE’S CASE TO FALL 2017: “A state judge said she won’t grant summary judgment to New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office as it pursues its fraud case against Donald Trump. Schneiderman subsequently issued a statement suggesting that his office would call on Trump to testify at a trial. ‘I’m not granting summary determination,’ Judge Cynthia Kern said Tuesday. ‘There’s nothing more for me to decide on that issue.’ Jane Azia, Schneiderman’s consumer fraud chief, said in court that there was ‘extensive evidence in the record already to demonstrate respondent engaged in fraud’ and, there being ‘no issues of fact,’ Kern should grant summary judgment… Trump’s lawyer, Jeffrey Goldman, approved Kern’s ruling, and said he wanted a jury trial… [He] said his ‘best guess’ for a trial date would be ‘in the fall,’ meaning fall 2017.” (Capital New York, 4/26/2016)

MAY HEARING SCHEDULED IN CA WAPO-TRUMP UNIVERSITY DOCS LAWSUIT: “The Washington Post’s bid to unseal documents filed in a class-action case against Trump University will get a hearing in May. Earlier this month the newspaper asked a San Diego District Court to unseal hundreds of pages of documents in the case against GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump. The Post argued the lawsuit filed by former Trump University students has become a campaign issue and the documents should thus be available to the public. …‘Plaintiff’s allegations in this case, and the lawsuit itself, have become prominent campaign issues,’ which makes the need for transparency in the case paramount. The hearing on the Post’s request is scheduled for May 27.” (Politico, 4/20/2016)

STEYER INVESTING $25 MILLION IN REGISTERING MILLENNIAL VOTERS: “California billionaire and climate change activist Tom Steyer is launching a $25-million effort to register young voters. Steyer’s group, NextGen Climate Action, announced Monday that it plans to deploy organizers to hundreds of college campuses in seven states ahead of the November election… The new registration drive will target college students in Ohio, Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire, several of which are swing states in presidential elections.” (Los Angeles Times, 4/25/2016)

HARVARD IOP POLL OUT THIS WEEK; VOX HAS YOU COVERED WITH ALL THE CHARTS: Check them out here. Looks like Mr. Trump has some serious work to do with the generation.

PA CONGRESSMAN BRENDAN BOYLE CITES CLINTON’S STUDENT DEBT PLAN IN MAKING ENDORSEMENT, SAYS SANDERS ONLY FOCUSES ON INTEREST RATES: Pennsylvania Congressman Brendan Boyle writes: “But the sheer scale of [our student debt] problem means that this work is only just beginning… And it’s why I’m so excited to announce my support for Hillary Clinton. In my view, Hillary has the most comprehensive and effective plan for tackling the burgeoning student debt… Her plan addresses the shockingly high interest rates… Just as it’s possible to refinance a home mortgage, Hillary believes people ought to be able to do the same with their student debt. Congress is debating a bill that would do just that, and the Senate is only two votes shy of passing this law. The 2016 election could be the last push that’s needed to make this solution a reality. Now, Senator Bernie Sanders’ plan also addresses this issue – but that’s where his ideas end. In contrast, it’s where Hillary’s plan is just beginning. She’s not only focused on solving this problem for kids who are born today, but on the crushing burdens that are currently weighing down millions of Americans. Too many Americans remain unaware of President Obama’s initiative to limit student debt to 10 percent of your income. Hillary’s plan will ensure that every borrower knows about and can participate in such a program and that there are no barriers to signing up. She will also crack down on predatory bill collectors, who too often harass Americans just as they’re trying to get on their feet. Her plan would require that loan servicers offer more flexibility and repayment options… Hillary’s plan will also expand debt relief for anyone who participates in national service… And she would also help entrepreneurs who are starting small businesses defer their payments, and pay zero percent interest for up to three years.” (The Hill, 4/26/2016)


COLORADO–BENNET TV AD FOCUSES ON COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY & STUDENT DEBT: “U.S. Sen. Michael Bennett released a new ad that hit TV stations in Denver and Colorado Springs [last week] touting his work on college affordability. … ‘I’m fighting for a law that would allow people to refinance their student loans just like you can a car loan or a home loan,’ Bennet says in the ad, after adults wearing their graduation caps talk about Colorado’s collective $21 billion in student loan debt. ‘Every Coloradan deserves a chance to go to college, and every graduate should have more to look forward to than a lifetime of debt.’” (The Gazette, 4/20/2016)

FLORIDA–MURPHY SPONSORS BILL TO STOP SOCIAL SECURITY GARNISHMENT TO PAY OFF STUDENT DEBT: “U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy introduced a bill last week that would prevent Social Security benefits from being garnished to pay student loans. The Jupiter Democrat seeking the nomination for an open Senate seat said it’s intended to ‘bolster our middle class.’ In the fiscal year that ended in October, 860,000 individuals had their Social Security benefits reduced to pay for federal debts, with the federal government collecting $382 million, according to the Senate Finance Committee. But that accounting included attempts to collect other debts besides student loans. A 2014 General Accountability Office report found the number of people whose Social Security benefits were reduced specifically to pay off student loan debt rose from 31,000 in 2002 to 155,000 in 2013… The numbers for those older than age 65 rose from 6,000 to 36,000 in the same period. Some of those were paying down debts incurred to educate their children through co-signing or Parent PLUS loans. People older than 65 owe $18.2 billion on student loans, according to former Harvard professor and lawyer Nancy J. Altman, founding co-director of Social Security Works, an advocacy group.” (Vero Beach Press Journal, 4/24/2016)

FLORIDA–JOLLY ENDORSES REFI, NEW BANKRUPTCY PROTECTIONS FOR STUDENT LOAN BORROWERS, AND OPEN TO EXPANDING PELL GRANTS: When asked about college affordability and student debt at this week’s first–of-its-kind “Open Debate,” Republican Congressman David Jolly “There are some simple things we can do right now by allowing student loans to be refinanced, by making them eligible for reorganization in bankruptcy cases — those are two initiatives I have supported in the past. Creating additional flexibility for accelerating Pell grant, need-based aid, [and] considering, if we can find a way to pay for it, expanding Pell grants… I think we should go back to the system where the universities are renumerated by the success of the… loan.”

MISSOURI–STUDENTS & ADMINISTRATORS TALK PROBLEMS WITH FEDERAL WORK STUDY & BARRIERS TO COLLEGE COMPLETION WITH KANDER: “Gena Boling, associate director of MU’s Office Financial Aid,… identified another weakness: the federal work-study program. She said MU receives $1.5 million annually to pay about 1,000 students participating in work-study programs. She said this allocation has not changed since it was determined by the Higher Education Act… She estimated about 90 percent of students working on campus are funded by the university, not the federal government. Amy Wasowicz, a sophomore at MU, said she was asked to find another job after she hit the $1,500 cap on her federally subsidized work-study position. Wasowicz was also concerned with the impact of the cost of student housing on student debt. She said she struggled to find affordable housing near bus stops and within walking distance from her classes. Kander said it was clear that college needed to be more affordable. He offered a couple of solutions: ensuring that students could refinance educational loans and capping interest rates on federal student loans. Kander, a Democrat, is challenging Republican incumbent Roy Blunt for U.S. Senate.” (Columbia Missourian, 4/25/2016)

NORTH CAROLINA–ROSS SAYS STUDENT DEBT THREATENS “THE BACKBONE OF OUR ECONOMY”: “The average student loan debt in North Carolina is a little more than $25,000, Ross said in an interview at the Citizen-Times during a campaign trip to several Western North Carolina counties. Rules governing the loans are unfair to students and the debt means students can’t contribute as much to the economy as they would otherwise, Ross said. ‘When people graduate with $25,000 of debt, they can’t start a small business. I have people on my staff who are saying they want to wait to have a family until they pay off their student debt,’ she said. ‘These are things that are the backbone of our economy.’ Burr has touted his support for legislation to simplify student loan programs in the past, although Ross said she feels he has not done enough. Interest rates will naturally be higher for student loans than for some other kinds of debt because they are unsecured, Ross said, but rates are still too high and the federal government can help lower them, she said. And, some student loans cannot be refinanced to allow graduates to lower their rates, she said. ‘When students get jobs and when we know they get that income stream, they should be able to refinance their student loans … just like you can refinance your house,’ Ross said. College costs have risen partly because of inflation and partly because of inadequate funding by the state General Assembly, she said. That and the fact that more people see the value of a college education to their future means many students rely on loans to finance their education, Ross said. ‘We have more and more people at different income levels who are seeking that higher education to have the American dream,’ she said.” (Asheville Citizen-Times, 4/23/2016)

NORTH CAROLINA–ELON POLL FINDS MAJOR SUPPORT FOR INCREASING AID TO LOW-INCOME STUDENTS, EVEN IF THAT MEANS INCREASES IN PERSONAL TAX LIABILITY: A new Elon University “live-caller, dual frame (landline and cell phone) survey of 692 residents of North Carolina was conducted from April 10-15, 2016” tested public opinion for increasing aid to low-income students versus tax increases. Here are the results: “The state should provide aid to low-income college students, even if I have to pay more taxes. Strongly Agree: 12 percent; Agree: 47 percent; Disagree: 30 percent; Strongly Disagree: 6 percent; Don’t Know/Unsure: 6 percent.” (The Stanly News & Press, 4/24/2016)

PENNSYLVANIA–IN LTE, KUTZTOWN PROF PRAISES SESTAK ON STUDENT DEBT: “We can continue to point fingers or we can fix the [college affordability and student debt] problem[s] at [their] source… We could change the interest on student loans using 30-year as well as 10-year notes to achieve a 30 percent reduction in rates, as Senate candidate Joe Sestak has suggested. We could bring back summertime Pell Grants so students can reduce their loan burden and graduate sooner. We might reconsider giving 31 percent of federal student loans to for-profit colleges that serve 13 percent of students, especially when half of all student loan defaults come from these colleges. Sen. Pat Toomey voted on numerous occasions against making college more affordable. Only Sestak has proposed real solutions to our student loan crisis.” (Lehigh Valley Live, 4/21/2016)

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2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (April 20, 2016): Keeping tabs on higher education debates

2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (April 20, 2016)

Keeping time (because who is counting?): 201 days until Election Day, 88 days until the Republican National Convention in Cleveland; 95 days until the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia… Millennial Memo here with your weekly 2016 roundup. Share this week’s memo with your friends and colleagues, follow us on Twitter, and sign up for updates here.

CLINTON GOES LOCAL ON ED FUNDING IN THE BLUEGRASS STATE:Hillary Clinton has jumped into the feud between Kentucky’s Republican governor and Democratic attorney general over funding cuts to higher education. The Democratic presidential front-runner’s campaign released a statement Tuesday saying Gov. Matt Bevin‘s $41 million cuts to colleges and universities are ‘shortsighted, wrong and may, in fact, be illegal.’ Attorney General Andy Beshear filed a lawsuit Monday challenging Bevin’s authority to chop the budgets without approval from the legislature. Bevin has said cuts are necessary to pay down the state’s pension debt. Clinton’s policy adviser Ann O’Leary wrote that ‘filling budget shortfalls on the backs of students and their families puts our future at risk.’ … Kentucky’s Democratic presidential primary is May 17.” (Associated Press)

STATE OF THE MILLENNIAL WORKFORCE: Feast your eyes on YI’s new state Millennial workforce backgrounders here.

PROFESSOR ON GOV. KASICH’S MID-BIENNIUM BUDGET HIGHER ED REFORMS: University of Cincinnati Professor John McNay wrote in the Cincinnati Enquirer this week: “While the mid-biennium budget proposals recently offered by Gov. John Kasich for higher education budget “reform” may seem constructive and innocuous, some serious unintended consequences appear not even to have been recognized, much less addressed… In trying to make higher education less expensive, we must not unintentionally cheapen it. There is too much emphasis on degrees, and not enough on education. We want – and the people of Ohio deserve – opportunity and quality in higher education, not simply degree production. State officials must critically reexamine this direction.”

INSIDE HIGHER ED SAYS CLINTON CAMPAIGN BUNDLERS LOBBIED FOR FOR-PROFIT COLLEGE PARENT COMPANY: “Several campaign bundlers who have raised money for Clinton’s current run have worked as lobbyists for the Apollo Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix. Republicans, who have been far more supportive of the for-profit education industry, have criticized Hillary Clinton’s position on for-profit colleges as hypocritical given her ties to Laureate… On the campaign trail, Clinton rhetorically has been sounding all the right notes for critics of for-profit colleges. Her higher education platform says she would ‘strengthen’ the Obama administration’s new regulations aimed at cracking down on for-profit colleges and expand support for federal agencies that pursue ‘law-breaking for-profits.’ And her platform calls for bringing ‘integrity to online learning,’ which is a delivery form of higher education that many for-profit companies use, as do nonprofits. Clinton directly criticized for-profit colleges in one of her first campaign events last year. And both she and rival Bernie Sanders have called for billions of dollars in new federal spending on public colleges and universities, including community colleges, which often compete directly with for-profit institutions.” (Inside Higher Ed)

OBAMA ADMIN TO EASE PROCESS OF FORGIVING $7.7 BILLION FOR BORROWERS WITH A TOTAL & PERMANENT DISABILITY: “The Obama administration plans to forgive $7.7 billion in federal student loans held by nearly 400,000 permanently disabled Americans. By law, anyone with a severe disability is eligible to have the government discharge their federal student loans. The administration took steps four years ago to make the process easier by letting people who are totally and permanently disabled use their Social Security designation to apply for a discharge, but few took advantage. The Department of Education is now taking it upon itself to identify eligible borrowers and guide them through the steps to discharge their loans…  Working with the Social Security Administration, the department has been identifying borrowers receiving disability payments and have the specific designation of ‘Medical Improvement Not Expected,’ which indicates they are eligible for the discharge. The agencies found 387,000 matches in its first review. About 179,000 of those people are currently in default on their loans, putting them at risk of losing their tax refunds and having their Social Security benefits garnished.” (The Washington Post)


CAMPUS CHILD CARE BILL GETS A BOOST FROM HOUSE MEMBERS LOOKING FOR A PROMOTION: In the past week, Reps. Chris Van Hollen, Donna Edwards, and Patrick Murphy all signed on as co-sponsors of Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s recently dropped Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) expansion bill [H.R. 4681]. (GovTrack)

ARIZONA–McCAIN DECRIES HIGH TUITION, CALLS FOR EXPANDING ONLINE DEGREE AND JUNIOR COLLEGE OPTIONS: “McCain recognizes the problems with the rising cost of tuition but wants students to remember that education and tuition is up to the state government. Even though there is no one right answer to the tuition debate, he believes the solution involves competition and alternative ways to receive degrees, such as online degrees and junior colleges. ‘We should put publicity on some of these institutions that have this continuation of inflation associated with this cost of education,’ McCain says. ‘We should not be saddling young people with debts that takes them years and years to pay off. It impacts their lives for years after they’re educated. We’ve got to put the brakes on the rising cost of education. It far outstrips the inflation. And so we are going to have to work hard on that.’” (State Press)

NEVADA–CORTEZ MASTO UNVEILS VETERANS STEERING COMMITTEE, SPOTLIGHTS HISTORY OF CRACKING DOWN ON SCHOOLS THAT TAKE ADVANTAGE OF VETERANS: Cortez Masto’s Veterans Steering Committee will advise the campaign on policy issues important to veterans and conduct outreach to other veterans in the state. The press release announcing the Committee notes: “Along with 21 Attorneys General, Cortez Masto advocated for Congress to stop for-profit colleges from preying on veterans seeking higher education after their service – specifically schools targeting some of the most vulnerable veterans who suffer from debilitating traumatic brain injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder.” Read the full release here.

NORTH CAROLINA–ROSS HEDGES WHEN ASKED WHOSE COLLEGE APPROACH [BERNIE OR HILLARY’S] SHE FAVORS: “High college prices kill choices, a group of students attending college, community college and high school told Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Deborah Ross [last] Thursday at Wake Forest University… Student loans affect the whole family as debt accumulated from attending college can be crushing, they said. And the debt can affect choices later on, such as buying a house, starting a family or starting a business… Ross said that college affordability is a priority for her though she stopped short of providing specific proposals. Asked after the meeting which of the two Democratic presidential candidates — Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton — had better proposals, she said: ‘All the plans are better than what is going on right now in Congress.’ Ross also referred favorably to proposals that she said have been made in the Senate, such as ‘refinancing student loan debt, cracking down on private for-profit colleges that don’t have accreditation and providing initial free community colleges.’ ‘Let’s start where we can start and build as far as we can go,’ Ross said.” (Winston-Salem Journal)

NORTH CAROLINA–BURR ACCUSES ROSS OF NOT HAVING POLICY IDEAS TO MAKE COLLEGE AFFORDABLE: Following Ross’s trip to Wake Forest, on Monday of this week, @Burrforsenate sent the following tweet:

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OHIO–PORTMAN SPONSORS BIPARTISAN BILL TO EXEMPT BORROWERS FROM TAX LIABILITY FOR FORGIVEN STUDENT LOANS: “A bill introduced by a bipartisan group of senators [last] Thursday is looking to change that for some by getting rid of the tax liability for families who have student loan debt wiped away after the death of their child and for borrowers who have their debts discharged because of a disability. The bill comes days after the Obama administration announced it would alert nearly 400,000 borrowers that they’re eligible for total and permanent disability discharge of their student loans, a provision that allows borrowers to get rid of their debt when they can’t work because of a disability. The Department of Education said it would send letters to the 387,000 borrowers it identified, offering them a streamlined path toward loan forgiveness, and said they would also get information about the tax consequences of forgiving the debt… The legislation introduced by Coons, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) doesn’t address the tax liability of debt forgiven under income-driven plans.” (MarketWatch)

OHIO–PORTMAN USES SNAPCHAT TO TARGET OHIO STATE STUDENTS: “Sen. Rob Portman’s campaign is going full 21 st century for Saturday’s spring football game, putting two Snapchat ‘geofilters’ around Ohio Stadium for the game. Geofilters are overlays that Snapchat allows users to put on their pictures to communicate where and when the pictures were taken. One filter will allow users around ‘The Shoe’ to show support for Portman, an Ohio Republican. The other will be used to criticize former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland’s record as governor. Both filters will be active for the entire day. The effort is part of a larger one to woo Ohio State students to back Portman, who is hoping to win a second term in November.” (Columbus Dispatch)

PENNSYLVANIA–McGINTY HITS TOOMEY FOR STUDENT LOAN REFINANCING VOTE: Speaking at a Democratic primary debate last week, Katie McGinty said: “I have sat down with families struggling with college tuition debt, now not just the students, but the parents who have taken out the parents PLUS loans… We have in Senator Pat Toomey somebody who has voted against… middle class tax cuts to afford college, has voted against enabling people to refinance their student loans.” (WGAL)

WISCONSIN–FEINGOLD HITS JOHNSON FOR “FREE MONEY” STUDENT LOAN COMMENTS: “Feingold criticized Johnson and other Republicans for what he said is a lack of support for affordable higher education. He then talked about the $28,000 average student debt that college graduates now have. Feingold also claimed Johnson has said college students ‘like’ racking up student debt, because they see it as ‘free money.’ ‘No they don’t. They consider it scary,’ Feingold said.” (GazetteXtra)

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2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (March 9, 2016): Keeping tabs on higher education debates

2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (March 9, 2016)

Programming Note: With U.S. Senate elections moving into full swing, I am pleased to announce that in addition to our coverage of the race for the White House, we will now also be following the top Senate races in the country. Try to contain your excitement. Have friends on the campaign trail? Make sure they don’t miss a thing. Encourage them to sign up for updates here and follow us on Twitter at @YoungInvincible.

TRUMP RECORDS VIDEO DEFENDING TRUMP U, NAMING FORMER STUDENTS: According to the Huffington Post’s Christina Wilkie: “Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Monday released a video in which he defends himself against fraud charges related to the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative. Formerly known as Trump University, the real estate investment seminar is facing multiple class-action lawsuits in different states from attendees who claim it was a scam. In the video, Trump reveals the full names of two former Trump University participants who say they were ripped off by the program. He holds up positive course evaluation forms he says they filled out. Trump adds that he’s ‘looking for’ a third program customer, presumably referring to a woman who also publicly has claimed she was scammed by Trump’s business. The men Trump mentions in his video both appeared in ads funded by the nonprofit American Future Fund.” Check out the video from the Trump campaign here.

TRUMP PROMISES TO RESTART TRUMP U: Speaking to supporters and the press Tuesday evening after his victories in Mississippi and Michigan, Mr. Trump — flanked by steaks, wine, water, and magazines — sought to defend his many brands that have faced increased scrutiny over the last few weeks. On Trump University, Mr. Trump pledged that after the lawsuits and if he is elected president, “Ivanka, Don, and Eric will restart Trump University in a heavy way.” (CSPAN, 3/8/16)

THURGOOD MARSHALL COLLEGE FUND PRAISES SANDERS’S FREE COLLEGE PLAN, SAYS CLINTON’S DOESN’T GO FAR ENOUGH: “‘A program like Sanders’s would ensure that blacks are less susceptible to getting caught up in a debt trap,’ said Darrick Hamilton, associate professor of economics and urban policy at the New School, who co-authored the paper with William Darity Jr. at Duke University and Mark Paul at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. While Hamilton said he is a Sanders supporter, Darity and Paul say they have not made up their minds yet. The authors say Sanders’s proposed interest rate reduction would save the average black bachelor’s degree holder $8,334 over the duration of their loan, a calculation derived from National Center for Education Statistics data on the average debt load and duration of repayment, which stands at roughly 21 years. Four out of five black graduates from public universities take out loans, compared with less than two-thirds of white graduates, according to liberal think tank Demos. Black students who borrow leave college with more debt than their peers. To be sure, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s college affordability plan, which the paper does not review, would also let borrowers lower the interest rate on their federal student loans to save money, a proposal championed by progressive leader Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). The authors say Clinton’s plan fails to go far enough to reshape the vision for higher education.” (The Washington Post, 3/7/2015)

CLINTON FAULTS SANDERS’S COLLEGE PLAN ON COST CONTAINMENT: “The money that you will need will be provided if you cannot afford to go to college. And, right now, given the costs, that covers most people except wealthy people. What I am saying is that we will fund debt-free tuition. You won’t have to borrow money. It’s different from Senator Sanders in this regard, I think the costs are too high in college and university. Tuition has gone up 42 percent over the last 10 years. I don’t understand how that can be justified. So, when Senator Sanders says ‘free college’ with no pressure on the universities and college and the universities to lower their costs, I think that will only make it more expensive. So, I’m requiring that colleges and universities take a hard look at what they’re charging, and if it’s not related to a young person getting a degree that will lead to a job, don’t charge the student. You will not be able to do that.” (Fox News, 3/7/2016)

WHAT OHIO IS READING–TOLEDO BLADE EDITORIAL BOARD ON KASICH ADMINISTRATION, OHIO UNIVERSITY LEADERS STATE HIGHER ED REFORM PLAN: “Gov. John Kasich and the presidents of Ohio’s 14 public universities and 23 community colleges have worked together productively to make a college degree more attainable and affordable. Their efforts at efficiency don’t make up for the state’s disinvestment in aid to higher education in recent years, but the exercise is still useful. As part of its midterm review of the state’s two-year budget, the Kasich administration — collaborating with the Ohio Department of Higher Education — is offering several proposals to cut college costs and pass savings on to students. Most are promising; some seem more questionable.” Read the full editorial here.

FACT CHECKERS WEIGH IN ON TRUMP U: “With Trump University at the center of an ongoing scandal, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is finding himself on the defensive about the business venture. ‘We have a 98 percent approval rating, we have an A from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and people like it,’ Trump said at the GOP primary debate Thursday. … According to a PolitiFact investigation, the BBB had given Trump’s school ratings ranging from an A+ to D-. But the most recent rating recorded, in 2010, was a ‘D-’ rating.” (CBS News, 3/3/2016)

DESSERT– CRUZ DIPLOMA: “Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz created a Trump University ‘certificate of deception’ on Thursday, allowing opponents of the GOP frontrunner to personalize their own diploma from the controversial venture.” (TIME, 3/3/2016)


WISCONSIN: FEINGOLD PITCHES CAREER TECHNICAL ED AS PART OF “BADGER INNOVATION PLAN”: In a new video posted to the Feingold campaign’s YouTube account, the former Senator outlines his Badger Innovation Plan on workforce policy, saying the plan includes “investing in STEM education, promote apprenticeships, and make sure that career and technical education is available and affordable.”

OHIO: HIGHER ED FUNDING DEBATE: In a recent Students for Portman campaign video, an Ohio State University student named Joey says directly to the camera, “when Ted Strickland was Governor, he cut a lot of money from our universities and public colleges.”

NEVADA: CORTEZ MASTO NEGOTIATED $112 MILLION DEBT RELIEF PACKAGE FOR STUDENTS AT BANKRUPT FLIGHT SCHOOL: “A year after Silver State Helicopters declared bankruptcy — leaving its students with sky-high debt — a group of attorneys general are negotiating an agreement to partially erase their debt. Under the agreement,… Student Loan Express is expected to forgive a total of $112.7 million in debt for students who had private education loans to attend the defunct flight school, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said today. The Nevada Attorney General’s Office served on an executive committee that helped negotiate the agreement… At its peak, [Silver State Helicopters] operated 34 flight schools nationwide with a total of 2,700 students enrolled. Student Loan Express served as the preferred student lender for students attending Silver State Helicopters, offering $174 million to more than 2,300 students nationwide. When the school closed in February 2008, most students were left owing Student Loan Express substantial debts for training and certification they never received… More than half of the students who enrolled in the flight school never earned a certificate. Under the agreement, Student Loan Express will forgive 75 percent of the total amount borrowed by those students.” (Las Vegas Sun, 10/15/2009)

PENNSYLVANIA: MCGINTY VOWS TO TAKE ON HIGHER ED SYSTEM: “Katie McGinty, running in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate primary, [began] a sustained TV ad campaign [yesterday]. The campaign said the 30-second ad, titled ‘It’s Your Turn,’ [began] running in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.” In a statement about the ad, McGinty Communications Director Sabrina Singh said: “‘For our families burdened with student loans – it’s your turn for a fair shot.’… The campaign said it’s spending more than $1 million to air the ad through the April 26 primary… In her message, [McGinty] suggests that ‘special interests’ in Washington aren’t doing enough to… reduce the cost of college tuition.” (WFMZ & the AP, March 7, 2016) Check out the ad here.
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