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2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (June 15, 2016): Keeping tabs on higher education debates

2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (June 15, 2016)

Hope you all are making it through this tough week okay — I know it’s been a sad one. Please find this week’s edition of Millennial Memo below. Stay in the know by signing up for updates here, and follow us on Twitter at @YoungInvincible.

VEEP WATCH–WARREN CALLS FOR STRIPPING FOR-PROFIT COLLEGE ACCREDITOR OF ITS AUTHORITY: Senator Elizabeth “Warren is calling on an advisory board at the Department of Education to deny the [Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools] agency the recognition it needs from the department to do its job, a request that has the backing of consumer advocates and at least 13 state attorneys general. The board… is slated to meet later this month to decide the council’s future… Warren wrote in a letter to Education Secretary John B. King Jr. and Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell. ‘ … I urge the department to … take strong, aggressive action to hold ACICS accountable for its dismal record of failure.’ The council, which accredits more than 800 college campuses, gained notoriety for claiming Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit chain that state and federal authorities accused of lying to students and committing fraud, was in good enough standing to continue to receive billions of dollars in taxpayer funds… Ben Miller, senior director for post-secondary education at CAP, found that more than half of the $5.7 billion in federal student aid awarded to ACICS-approved schools in the past three years went to institutions facing some sort of state or federal investigation.” (The Washington Post, 6/10/2016)

CLINTON CAMPAIGN STAFFS UP ON MILLENNIAL OUTREACH, PLANS YOUNG VOTER LISTENING TOUR: “Hillary Clinton’s campaign, looking to shore up support with millennials, has hired Bernie Sanders’ national campus and student organizing director, according to a Clinton aide. The move comes as the Clinton campaign launches her new “millennial engagement” program, an initiative that will look to help Clinton with a demographic that overwhelmingly tilted toward the Vermont senator during the primary. Kunoor Ojha, the former Sanders aide, will serve as the Clinton campaign’s national campus and student organizing director, tasked with listening to young voters and convincing them to back Clinton. This is the Clinton campaign’s first major hire from the Sanders campaign. Anne Hubert, a former Viacom senior vice president, will lead the millennial outreach effort. Sarah Audelo, former political director at Rock the Vote, will be Clinton’s youth vote director. ‘The team will travel the country and listen directly to millennial voters — including students, parents, workers, and organizers — to ensure that they have the voice at the table and that the campaign is addressing the issues that matter most,’ a Clinton aide said. ‘They will also serve as a resource for state teams to ensure that every state has an aggressive program to reach millennial voters.’” (CNN, 6/10/2016)

SIREN–ALARMING POLL RESULTS ON STUDENT DEBT & HOMEOWNERSHIP: “The National Association of Realtors joined with the nonprofit American Student Assistance to conduct a survey of only those student loan borrowers who are current in their repayments and therefore mostly likely to be financially ready to make a home purchase. Seventy-one percent of those surveyed said their student loan debt is delaying them from buying a home. More than half said they expect that delay to last longer than five years… Forty-three percent of those polled carried between $10,001 and $40,000 in student debt, while 38 percent owed $50,000 or more. The most common debt burden was between $20,000 and $30,000. Because of their student debt, 69 percent said they don’t feel financially secure enough to buy a home, while 80 percent said they can’t save for a down payment. Student loan debt isn’t just affecting first-time buyers, although that group’s participation in the housing market is at historically low levels… Nearly a third of those surveyed who are current homeowners said they can’t afford sell their current home and buy another one because of student loan debt.” (The Washington Post, 6/13/2016)

SENATE APPROPS RESTORES YEAR-ROUND PELL, SLIGHTLY ADJUSTS MAX GRANT AWARD: “The full Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved legislation that would reinstate year-round Pell Grants for low-income students and provide a $2 billion boost for the National Institutes of Health. The 2017 appropriations bill for the Departments of Education, Labor and Health and Human Services would increase the maximum Pell Grant to $5,935 and once again allow students to receive the grants in the summer, a benefit that was eliminated in 2011 amid a spike in the program’s costs.” (Inside Higher Ed, 6/10/2016)


OBAMA ADMIN RELEASES DRAFT RULE TO CHANGE CURRENT STUDENT DEBT FORGIVENESS RULES: “Students will have a clearer path to loan forgiveness if they are defrauded or misled by their colleges, according to rules issued Monday by the Obama administration, which also create a financial backstop to ensure that schools, not taxpayers, are responsible for the debt. As it stands, students can apply to have their federal loans discharged if they can prove a school used illegal or deceptive tactics in violation of state law to persuade them to borrow money for college. Now the department is outlining a set of violations that would make borrowers eligible for loan forgiveness. Chief among them is a breach of contract as well as a state or federal court judgement against a school related to the loan or the educational services for which the loan was made. The government would also consider wiping away debt in the event of a ‘substantial misrepresentation’ by the school about the nature of the program, financial charges or the chance graduates have of finding work, according to the proposal. According to the department, the proposed regulation would have an annual budget impact of anywhere from $199 million to $4.2 billion. Department officials are aiming to have the rule in place by November 2016, which means it would take effect the following July.” (The Washington Post, 6/13/2016)


COLORADO–GRAHAM BLAMES DECREASED STATE INVESTMENT IN HIGHER ED ON MEDICAID: Speaking at an Americans for Prosperity forum in Broomfield, Colorado last Friday, former CSU Athletic Director and candidate for U.S. Senate Jack Graham said: “I experienced the consequences of the never ending expansion of Medicaid when I was at Colorado State University and I saw the increased cost of in-state tuition to our students, because as Medicaid expanded, it consumed budgetary dollars under the TABOR limits that were no longer available to higher education — to students going to Colorado State University — and as a result of that, tuition levels go up and with that goes increased levels of student debt.”

COLORADO–BLAHA ENCOURAGES BORROWERS TO SHOP AROUND IN PRIVATE MARKET: Speaking at a GOP Senate Primary debate at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs last week, Robert Blaha said: “I think the solution is actually quite simple. The solution is we let the free market come in. We let students take those products and services to the free market just like all of us do for mortgages… This [increased] competition will drive prices down.”

COLORADO–KEYSER PUSHES BACK ON REFINANCING IN THE PRIVATE MARKET: At a GOP Senate Primary debate at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs last week, Jon Keyser said: “The problem is actually something that me and my wife felt… Frankly, it’s tough to have the credit rating to be able to refinance in the private sector. And that is a risk that you take, because when you get that loan from the government you have forbearance and some other things that come along with that. So students sometimes have to take a risk to privatize to refinance their student loans, but it’s difficult because unless you have a high enough credit score and earn enough right out of college, you’re not going to be able to find somebody to lend you that money.”

COLORADO–GOP CANDIDATES RESPOND ON HIGHER ED REFORM QUESTIONS: GOP Senate primary candidates were asked a number of rapid fire questions about where they stand on everything from student loan forgiveness programs, student loan refinancing, and the federal government’s role in regulating higher education. Listen here..

NEW HAMPSHIRE–HASSAN UNVEILS “NH 2.0 PLAN”, INCLUDES HIGHER ED & WORKFORCE INITIATIVES: Late last week, the Hassan campaign unveiled its NH 2.0 plan on innovation and middle class economic opportunity. Included in the plan are a number of higher education reform ideas. Governor Hassan states that she “will fight to help these borrowers by allowing them to refinance their loans at today’s lower interest rates, a move that could benefit an estimated 129,000 Granite Staters. She will also work to cut interest rates for new student loans to stop the federal government from profiting off of this debt. And she will make it easier for borrowers to enroll in income-based repayment programs that cap their monthly payments and allow borrowers to pause repayments as they transition to high-need careers or start new businesses… She will… [work] to expand Pell Grants, consolidating and expanding tax incentives to help students and families save and pay for college, encouraging schools to experiment with ways of lowering the cost of delivering high-quality higher education and fighting to achieve debt-free public college for all families… Maggie will… [support] bipartisan efforts to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and use the Department of Education’s new college scorecards to help students and families get the information they need to compare schools and make smart choices… [Governor Hassan] will [support] bipartisan efforts to expand apprenticeship opportunities and by making federal higher education grants and loans more flexible to enable adult workers to learn new skills.” (, Innovate NH 2.0)

NEW HAMPSHIRE–PRO-AYOTTE STUDENT DEBT LTE CAMPAIGN CONTINUES WITH PIECE FROM FMR UNH COLLEGE GOP PRES: In a letter to the editor of the Union-Leader, former UNH College Republicans president Philip Boynton writes: “I applaud the work Kelly Ayotte did to get bipartisan student loan reform off the ground! Too many senators are afraid to reach across the aisle, but not Kelly Ayotte. Time and again, she has proven to be an independent leader. Thanks to this kind of leadership, more students will have many opportunities to go to college and do so with less debt. College isn’t cheap, and working across the aisle isn’t easy, but Sen. Ayotte has managed to lead an important step toward making college more affordable and do so in a bipartisan way. We’d be fortunate to have more senators like Kelly Ayotte that lead in an independent way.”

NORTH CAROLINA–ROSS CALLS FOR FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE & BAN THE BOX-STYLE APPROACH TO EMPLOYMENT FOR FELONS TRANSITIONING BACK TO THE WORKFORCE: “During her Monday event Ross took suggestions about important economic issues and answered questions from the group of attendees. Ross expressed support for free community college ‘if kids do well in school.’ In certain sectors where safety wouldn’t be a concern, Ross said felons should be able to apply for jobs without crimes counting against them. ‘If we want to prevent people from committing other crimes, we need to have a robust re-entry program,’ she said.” (Salisbury Post, 6/14/2016)

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(Source: Richard Burr’s Twitter Account, 6/13/2016)