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2016 Millennial Memo (July 8, 2015): Keeping tabs on higher education debates

2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (July 8, 2015)

488 days to go…

Welcome back, Millennial Memo readers. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and were able to enjoy a little time off with family and friends. 62. No, that not the number of major Republican candidates running for president, that’s the number of hot dogs consumed by the winner of this year’s 4th of July contest hosted on Coney Island. Can you believe it?

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BREAKING–O’MALLEY TO UNVEIL DEBT-FREE COLLEGE PLAN TODAY IN NH: The Huffington Post’s Tyler Kingkade reports “O’Malley on Wednesday will lay out a plan providing debt-free access to a college degree for all students within five years… He will seek to cut tuition ‘to no more than 10 percent of state median income at four-year public universities,’ and encourage ‘competency-based education strategies’ that allow students to graduate quicker… To cut non-tuition costs, O’Malley will propose expanding Pell grants and tripling the work-study program so that at least 2 million students can participate… O’Malley will call on states to freeze tuition at state colleges and universities and to restore funding to higher education, which has been slashed for decades. He wants to encourage higher education funding with federal grants in a process still being worked out.”

Also included in O’Malley’s plan — making childcare affordable on America’s college campuses, providing more quality college counseling services (particularly to low-income and first generation students), and allowing student loan borrowers to refinance their debt.

O’MALLEY TO CALL FOR INCOME-BASED REPAYMENT FOR PRIVATE STUDENT LOAN BORROWERS: Also from Kingkade: “To address current debt, O’Malley will propose allowing borrowers with private student loans to enroll in income-based repayment plans. Details aren’t yet being released, but aides said borrowers would enroll in a program that would essentially have them paying the government rather than banks. The Obama Administration has rolled out programs for federal student loans that tie payment to borrowers’ income. But no similar benefit exists for private loans. As a result, private student loan borrowers’ monthly payment can top $1,000, and there’s no loan forgiveness programs.”

COST OF O’MALLEY PLAN REMAINS A QUESTION: The Washington Post’s John Wagner reports that “aides declined to spell out the cost of O’Malley’s initiatives but suggested they could be paid for by measures such as closing corporate tax loopholes and taxing capital gains at the same rate as earned income.”

RUBIO PROMISES TO REVAMP HIGHER ED ACCREDITATION IN HIS FIRST 100 DAYS: In a speech delivered in Chicago yesterday, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) detailed his plan for reforming higher education. Rubio promised “as president, I will begin with a powerful but simple reform. Our higher education system is controlled by what amounts to a cartel of existing colleges and universities, which use their power over the accreditation process to block innovative, low-cost competitors from entering the market. Within my first 100 days, I will bust this cartel by establishing a new accreditation process that welcomes low-cost, innovative providers.”

RUBIO TOUTS PLAN TO LET INVESTORS PAY FOR STUDENTS’ EDUCATION: In the same speech, Rubio continued, “I’ve proposed an idea called Student Investment Plans, which would let students partner with investors who would pay their tuition in return for a percentage of their earnings for a few years after graduation. It may result in a profit for the investor or it may not — but unlike with loans, none of the risk lies with the student.”

EXPANDING APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAMS GETS BIPARTISAN LOVE ON THE TRAIL: In South Carolina last month, Clinton pushed a plan to incentivize employers to offer apprenticeships in exchange for tax credits. Indicating bipartisan support for the issue, Rubio said he “will expand apprenticeship programs, which can provide on-the-job training and help standardize skills by allowing students to learn methods from experienced workers and speed them throughout the industry.”

WEBB NAMES STUDENT DEBT ONE OF “THREE CHALLENGES” FACING AMERICA’S EDUCATION SYSTEM: In the announcement posted on his campaign website last week, former Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) said: “When it comes to education in America we are looking at three challenges… The second is the huge student loan debt that is hanging over the heads of so many of our talented young people who must mortgage their futures in order to have one.”

WEBB ON STUDENT LOAN INTEREST RATES: In 2012, Congress debated whether or not to prevent subsidized student loan interest rates from doubling from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. According to Politico’s Seung Min Kim, only “one Democrat — Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia — rejected the Democratic” plan to keep student loan interest rates low for an additional year by “eliminating a tax loophole for Subchapter S Corporations.”

CRUZ DENOUNCES AFFIRMATIVE ACTION IN HIGHER ED: In an interview with BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins, Coppins reports “Cruz argued vigorously against race-based admissions and warned that de-prioritizing academic merit in selecting applicants would inevitably lead to unintentional injustices. As evidence, he pointed to Ivy League schools that used to enforce ‘negative quotas’ to keep from accepting too many Jews. ‘We see it now with colleges in California… negative quotas against Asian students because academically they’re excelling.’ Cruz… when asked whether he thought he had personally benefited from affirmative action, sa[id] it was ‘difficult to say.'”

PERRY CALLS FOR RELAXING ACCREDITATION REQUIREMENTS FOR ONLINE PROGRAMS: In a speech at the National Press Club last Thursday, former Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) said: “We are on the cusp of an online revolution in higher education, but only if the federal government rolls back the rules that make it almost impossible for students to gain accredited bachelor’s degrees achieved with online instruction.”

POLITIFACT–ALLEGATION THAT BUSH INCREASED TUITION WHILE GOVERNOR BY 48.2% RATED “MOSTLY TRUE”: According to PolitiFact, “The Florida Democratic Party said Bush ‘oversaw [an] average in-state tuition increase of 48.2 percent during his tenure.’ While not having the power to increase tuition himself, Bush did sign budgets in which the Legislature increased tuition substantially. We came up with 56.9 percent ourselves, counting the strict cost of tuition per hour over the eight years Bush was governor. That hike doesn’t beat estimates of the nationwide average at the time, however, and in-state, undergraduate tuition was still quite a deal compared to other states when Bush left office. The statement is accurate, but needs clarification or additional information. We rate it Mostly True.”

CLINTON CAMPAIGN IOWA VOLUNTEER CITES STUDENT DEBT AS BIG REASON TO SUPPORT HER CANDIDACY: The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports that volunteer Vikki Brown in Hillary for Iowa’s Waterloo campaign office “said she’s supporting Clinton largely because her three grown daughters are all pursuing higher education degrees, and along with the education comes student-loan debt.”

CHRISTIE’S TUITION BILL: According to Politico’s Kyle Cheney, “Christie relates as many policy issues as he can to his family… He talks about the challenges of affording his kids’ college tuition — a combined $120,000 a year for Notre Dame and Princeton.”

CHRISTIE ON COLLEGE COSTS: Cheney reports that when “asked about college tuition costs by an audience member in Sundown who intends to get a law degree, Christie joked, ‘My suggestion to you is if you are going to go to college and law school… marry a really successful woman.'”

O’MALLEYS HAVE TAKEN ON $339,200 IN DEBT TO PAY FOR THE EDUCATION OF THEIR 2 OLDEST DAUGHTERS: According to the Washington Post’s John Wagner, “O’Malley’s daughter Grace, 24, graduated from Georgetown University, and another daughter, Tara, 23, graduated from College of Charleston. Aides said O’Malley and his wife, a district court judge in Baltimore, have taken out nine loans totaling $339,200 to help pay for the education of their oldest two children. The interest rates range from just over 6 percent to 8.5 percent, an aide said.”

IT CAN BE DONE–WASHINGTON STATE APPROVES PLAN TO CUT TUITION BY 15-20%: Last week, “in its 2015-2017 budget, the [Washington] Legislature cut four-year college tuition costs by 15 to 20 percent by 2016 — making Washington the only state in the country to lower tuition for public universities and colleges next year. Community-college tuition will drop by 5 percent. The rollback will save University of Washington junior Austin Wright-Pettibone $1,611 in 2016, when the biggest cut takes place. ‘It’s absolutely historic,’ he said. ‘I hope it will spark other conversations in state legislatures about the importance of higher education.'” (Seattle Times, June 30, 2015)


new CNN/ORC poll of 1,1017 adults from June 26-28, 2015 found Clinton leading her Republican rivals among registered 18- to 34-year-olds by significant margin (+/- 8.5%). Clinton 64, Bush 34  //  Clinton 63, Rubio 33  //  Clinton 62, Christie 33  //  Clinton 66, Trump 30  //  Clinton 64, Walker 32


Marco Rubio Calls for ‘Student Investment Plan,’ More Choice in Higher Education, U.S. News & World Report, Allie Bidwell

How the Department of Education Should Design Its Ratings System, Inside Higher Ed, Tom Allison

Homeless Student Erma Tired of Living a Lie (Video), Pivot TV, Secret Lives of Americans

Climbing walls aren’t driving the rise in college tuition, Inside Higher Ed & PBS NewsHour, Kellie Woodhouse

This is why state college costs so much, CNBC, Tom DiChristopher