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2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (July 22, 2015): Keeping tabs on higher education debates

2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (July 22, 2015)

474 days to go…

With higher education and student debt developments a plenty on the campaign trail, I’m cutting right to the chase this week. Be sure to share Millennial Memo with your colleagues, friends, aunts, uncles, and more — and encourage them to sign up for updates here.

STUDENT DEBT VOTERS TAKE OVER IOWA: From Ottumwa to Cedar Rapids, dozens of “Student Debt Voters” descended across the Hawkeye State this past week demanding candidates reveal how they would reduce student debt and make repayment more manageable. Frustrated with years of being told by candidates, “We need to make college more affordable,” these “Student Debt Voters” were hungry for details, not just rhetoric.

WALKER CALLS FOR RISK SHARING FOR SCHOOLS, DEBT RELIEF FOR THOSE WITH HIGH DEBT: When addressing student debt at a town hall in Cedar Rapids last week, Governor Walker said, “I would do two different parts. One, I think we need to look at people who already have high levels of student loan debt, so we need to help relieve some of that burden. But the other thing we have got to do in conjunction with that – that I think is really important – is help put in an incentive to keep tuition down. In my state, I am proud of the fact that we froze tuition four years in a row. Because really the heart of why the loans are going up so much is because tuition was going up three to four times the rate of inflation. So one of the ideas we’re looking at — we’ll probably come out around the time school starts up and announce a plan — is have higher education institutions take on not all but a small percentage of that loan so that they have an incentive to keep their tuition down and people aren’t taking on debt they can’t afford to pay. So even if it is like 4-5%, that would keep them in a position where they would want to raise it.” Governor Walker then clarified that his 4-5% target referenced total student loan debt, not just tuition. (Audio here.)

WALKER CALLS FOR SENDING MONEY TO STATES FOR APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAMS: In laying out his vision to get the economy moving during the same town hall, Governor Walker said, “The fourth thing [we need to do] is giving people the skills, the education, the qualifications that they need to succeed — and with doing that, we can help people find careers that pay far more than just the minimum wage and find many career options out there. And it’s not just in our traditional four-year colleges and universities. In many cases, it’s sending money and power from Washington back to the states and in some cases back to the local governments for schools and in many cases for things like two-year Associate degree programs and apprenticeships.” (Audio here.)

CLINTON ATTACKS ON REFINANCE, COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY: Speaking at a pre-Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame Dinner event, Secretary Clinton said that if Republicans win the White House, “you can say goodbye to refinancing student debt and making college more affordable.” (Video here.)

CLINTON ON UNIVERSAL INCOME-BASED REPAYMENT: At her pre-Hall of Fame Dinner event, when addressing repaying student debt, Clinton noted that both she and President Clinton were able to repay their loans through an income-contingent repayment program after law school. When asked if everyone should be able to qualify for an income-based repayment option, she said, “yes, absolutely, absolutely.” (Video here.)

DID CLINTON JUST DROP ANOTHER HINT ABOUT HER STUDENT DEBT PLAN ON FACEBOOK?: During a Facebook Q&A, Clinton wrote to a student borrower on Monday that in addition to offering plans to refinance student debt and expand repayment programs tied to a borrower’s income, we must “try to make college more affordable to start with so that students today and tomorrow don’t end up with the amount of debt you and 40 million other Americans currently have.”

CARSON CALLS FOR MAKING SCHOOLS FOOT THE BILL FOR ALL INTEREST ON STUDENT DEBT: At a town hall in Marshalltown, Iowa, Dr. Ben Carson said about student debt: “My plan is to make the colleges and universities responsible for the interest… Students would be responsible for the loans themselves, but not for the interest. That’ll change things in a hurry.” (Audio here.)

CARSON PROMISES TO PUT STUDENT DEBT PLAN ON HIS WEBSITE: When asked whether the plan was on his website, Dr. Carson said: “It will be.” (Audio here.)

CORINTHIAN DONATED MORE THAN $27,000 TO RUBIO: Last week, Bloomberg Politics’ Sahil Kapur reported “in the last five years, Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s various political operations have accepted $27,600 in contributions from Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit education chain that shut down in April after a federal investigation found it had engaged in ‘predatory’ practices.”

FLASHBACK–RUBIO WROTE LETTER ON CORINTHIAN’S BEHALF: Kapur previously reported that Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) “asked the Department of Education to ‘demonstrate leniency’ toward Corinthian Colleges by permitting the [now-bankrupt] for-profit company to continue accessing millions of dollars in federal financial aid while it was cooperating with a federal investigation.”

JINDAL ON FEDS AND STUDENT LENDING: At a town hall meeting in Urbandale, Iowa, Governor Jindal (R-LA) said, “It’s also true that under this President in Obamacare, they gave the government a monopoly on providing student loans. So a lot of students are saying, ‘well, why can’t we refinance our debt now? We could get lower interest rates if we had that option.’ There should be that option. We need to break up the monopoly and provide more competition so that you can choose where you borrow your money from and you can have different and better repayment options.” (Audio here.)

JINDAL CALLS FOR EASING ACCREDITATION STANDARDS AND PRIOR LEARNING ASSESSMENTS AS MEANS TO LOWER COST: At the Urbandale event, Governor Jindal argued “we’ve got to drive down the actual cost of education, and they way you can do that is with more competition. There are so many different methods to combine courses and life experiences and online training… I asked the President, ‘why don’t we break up the monopolies? Give the states more flexibility in accreditation and other options.’ The President said if we did that, kids and their families would be ripped off all across the country. He was basically saying I don’t trust the states because the only person smart enough to do this is the federal government.” (Audio here.)

JINDAL TOUTS LOUISIANA OPPORTUNITY GRANTS: Touting his own record at the same event, Governor Jindal closed by saying that “Louisiana actually ranks really, really well when it comes to the percentage of kids with debt and the amount of debt. We are actually one of the best states in the country. Part of that is we have a state-funded program called TOPS that says if you have an average GPA or ACT, we will pay for your tuition. And if you do better than average, we will pay for books, and the higher you go, the more we’ll pay — we will pay for accommodations and other things. And I’ve fought every year to protect that program and grow that. Hundreds of thousands of Louisiana kids have benefitted from that… [TOPS] started with a very wealthy, very generous businessman. He didn’t have any kids of his own, was a billionaire. Donated the money to get it first started in Louisiana… The thing that makes [TOPS] different is [that] it’s not one of these advanced scholarships… [it] is purposely an average GPA, if you do the average state ACT score, then we pay for you to go to college because it is meant to be an opportunity program.” (Audio here.)

SANTORUM CALLS STUDENT LOAN REFINANCING A SUBSIDY FOR COLLEGE EDUCATED AT THE COST OF NON-COLLEGE GOERS: When asked about whether he would support allowing students to refinance their loans at a town hall meeting in Keosauqua, Iowa,  former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) said: “What you’re saying is for the… 74 percent [without a college degree], we’re going to help subsidize the other 26 percent [with a degree]… We’re already providing aid and support and now you’re saying that we need to provide more aid support for people that go to college. And the people that don’t go to college are paying for that… I just think it’s a transfer of resources, and are we getting our bang for the buck? I really question whether we are.” (Audio here.)

SANTORUM ON COLLEGE COSTS: At the same event, Santorum said college costs have gone up “because they are hugely subsidized by the federal government… It’s a vicious cycle, and I think the way to break it is for students to say we’re not jumping on that merry-go-round. We’re gonna go to technical school or college. Get a job… If it’s gonna take 6 years anyway for the average person to finish college, well go part time and work part time.” (Audio here.)

OREGON PASSES FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE: “A bill promising free community college to eligible Oregon students is official state policy. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed the bill Friday, limiting college tuition to $50 per term — a big discount from the $1,500 cost of attending full-time… Students have to apply for government financial aid and maintain at least a 2.5 grade-point average. The program doesn’t start until Fall 2016, and eligibility is limited to students within six months of finishing high school. So it will exclude the vast majority of current community college students.” (Oregon Public Broadcasting, 7/17/2015)

MEASURING UP MILLENNIALS: A new ABC/Washington Post poll released on Monday found Secretary Clinton leading Governor Bush by a 71% to 25% margin among voters 18-29. In a 3-way race, these voters support Clinton 65% to Bush’s 17% to Trump’s 15%.


Mortality Attributable to Low Levels of Education in the United States, PLOS One, Patrick M. Krueger, Melanie K. Tran, Robert A. Hummer, Virginia W. Chang

2015 Students Speak Report on Federal Student Aid & Job Readiness, National Campus Leadership Council, Andy MacCracken & James Scimecca