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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.’”


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.