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2016 Millennial Memo (May 20, 2015): Keeping tabs on higher education debates

2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (May 20, 2015)

537 days to go…

WELCOME to the inaugural edition of 2016 Millennial Memo, a weekly tipsheet covering all things 2016 and Millennials, with a special focus on issues most concerning young voters and their parents, including reforming America’s higher education system to fix the nation’s $1.2 trillion student debt problem.
Between a flurry of trips to Iowa and New Hampshire and lots of fundraising in between, April was a quintessential kickoff month for (soon-to-be) candidates seeking residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But one thing definitely stood out: the public and media are demanding answers from candidates about how they would reform higher education and fix student debt.
WHAT THE CANDIDATES SHOULD BE READING: Beth Ann Bovino, U.S. chief economist at Standard & Poor’s last month: “Millennials’ heavy student-loan burdens could seriously crimp spending.” In a report she recently authored, Bovino noted that the rate of increase in student borrowing from mid-2009 to the end of 2014 is 6 times that of hourly wages. (Bloomberg)
BUSH WEIGHS IN ON FOR-PROFIT COLLEGES: When asked what additional accountability measures he would support for for-profit colleges at a Politics and Pie event in Concord, NH last month, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) said that the [federal government] “should not pick you know for-profit, not for-profit public, or private [colleges]. We should have accountability across the board.” (Audio here.)
HILLARY’S STUDENT DEBT PLAN IS ON THE WAY: She’s talked about it in early stops on the campaign trail in Iowa and New Hampshire — states with some of the nation’s highest debt loads per graduate, and even led her recent Des Moines Register op-ed talking about student debt, but Hillary’s yet to share how she would address higher education reform. That wait may be coming to a close. According to MSNBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald, “Hillary Clinton will soon roll out a detailed plan to tackle student loan debt… many [hope] she will embrace the idea of debt-free college education. Her campaign says she will, but specifics will have to wait.”
MOOK HINTS AT DEBT-FREE COLLEGE ENDORSEMENT: In an appearance earlier this month on CNBC, Clinton Campaign Manager Robby Mook said, “what voters are looking for in this election is someone who’s going to be a champion for everyday people, for young people that’s debt-free college, that’s finding that job after you graduate.”
BUT CLINTON CAMP SAYS DETAILS STILL IN THE WORKS: After Mook’s interview, Politico’s Gabriel Debenedetti reported that Clinton “would be more specific about her policy plans in the future, but [the campaign] didn’t say that Mook’s comment constituted a full embrace of debt-free higher education.”
RUBIO APPEALED FOR LENIENCY ON CORINTHIAN’S BEHALF: Last month, Bloomberg Politics’ Sahil Kapur 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.”
RUBIO CALLS INCOME-BASED REPAYMENT A “GOOD DEAL” FOR STUDENTS & TAXPAYERS: In his new book American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone, Senator Rubio describes a vision for making student loan repayment more manageable. “There is a better way for Americans struggling to pay off student debt. Government can and should make income-based repayment the default repayment method for anyone that takes out a student loan… [Income-Based Repayment is] a good deal for students and a good deal for taxpayers. Loan defaults would drop substantially, preserving students’ credit and saving the taxpayers money.”
O’MALLEY CALLS FOR “BETTER DEAL” ON COLLEGE LOANS, SAYS COLLEGE SHOULD BE DEBT FREE: In a Washington Post op-ed last month, former Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD) said the country’s student loan borrowers should be able to refinance their loans – like homeowners or businesses can do. He also endorsed the idea of making income-based repayment, which caps monthly student loan payments as a percentage of a borrower’s income, automatic. The following day, Governor O’Malley’s PAC, O’PAC, released this video under the mantra Debt Free College.
SANDERS INTRODUCES FREE PUBLIC COLLEGE PLAN: Bloomberg’s Ali Elkin reports: Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders [introduced] legislation on Tuesday to make public college tuition-free in the United States… The plan will provide tuition-free higher education to students at four-year colleges, the statement said, and is modeled after the way many European nations handle the costs of college… Sanders’s statement said his bill will also seek to ‘substantially lower student debt and bring down interest rates on college loans.'”
PAUL PROPOSES MAKING COLLEGE TUITION TAX DEDUCTIBLE: While talking to a crowd of college students at the University of Iowa last month, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said: “The president says, ‘I want to give you free college’… I have a better idea. Let’s let college students deduct the entire cost of their educations over their working careers. Let’s make college tuition entirely deductible.” According to the LA Times, Paul “did not explain whether his idea would cover student loans, parental spending, or would depend on income level.”
WALKER PLAN TO ELIMINATE FOR-PROFIT COLLEGE REGULATORY BOARD STILL ALIVE: When Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) unveiled his budget earlier this year, he proposed eliminating Wisconsin’s Education Approval Board, which – among other things – provides oversight of for-profit colleges. Governor Walker argued eliminating the EAB would “decrease the regulatory and fiscal burden on private, for-profit schools.” The Wisconsin State Journal’s Dan Simmons reports: a Wisconsin lawmaker leading the effort “plans to go forward with axing the board but is open to preserving more of its functions.”
FIORINA CALLS INTEREST RATES ON FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS HIGH: In a May 4th chat on Periscope, newly minted presidential candidate Carly Florin described federal student loans with 6.5 percent and 7.5 percent interest rates as “kind of high.” also notes that Fiorina’s assertion that “the federal government decides on the interest rate” is incorrect — “Rates are based on the 10-year Treasury note, and the auction for that is set for this month.”
JEB TALKS DEGREE ATTAINMENT AND SKILLS GAP: When addressing the nation’s student debt problem last month, former Governor Bush said, “60 percent of full-time equivalent students in our public universities — subsidized by the states and subsidized frankly by students in the student loan program — 60 percent of full-time equivalent students graduate with a 4-year degree in 6 years, and most of them have some level of debt. And the net result is that they have recourse debt on their back… A 4-year degree for people that are full-time students ought to be completed in 4 years. And it ought to be as affordable as possible. We should give them the counseling so that can happen, because college attainment as well as career readiness has to be our highest objective.”
Governor Bush also weighed in on skills and degrees, saying: “the number one degree program for public universities is psychology, and that I don’t think there is – well, maybe there is a shortage of psychologists – I don’t believe there is. But there are field out there that need to be filled, like IT workers, engineers, accounting nursing, welding, electrician. We have skilled bus drivers – we have skilled workers, jobs that need to be filled. Yet we are creating a system where we’re basically perpetuating a system that’s not that does not have the throughput necessary and college attainment rates necessary for us to continue to succeed.” (Audio here.)
42 STEPS DOWN FROM LAUREATE: On the heels of his wife’s recently critical comments about the for-profit college industry, former President Bill Clinton stepped down as honorary chancellor of the for-profit Laureate International Universities reports Bloomberg Politics’ Jennifer Epstein. “His departure has nothing to do with the campaign, the company and the former President’s office said, telling Bloomberg that he agreed to a five-year term in the position.”
BUSH ADVISOR SERVES ON BOARD OF FAILING FOR-PROFIT COLLEGE SUED BY SEC: In a piece from the Republic Report’s David Halperin: “Former Congressman Vin Weber (R-MN) is an advisor to the unofficial presidential campaign of Jeb Bush, as both Weber and the Bush camp have confirmed… Weber has also served, since 1994, on the board of directors of ITT Educational Services, one of the biggest for-profit college companies. [Earlier this month,] the Securities and Exchange Commission sued ITT, its former CEO, and former CFO, charging that the company ‘made various false and misleading statements and omissions to defraud ITT’s investors by concealing the extraordinary failure’ of its student loan programs.”
MEASURING UP MILLENNIALS: For Millennial politics and policy nerds, the Harvard Institute of Politics’ Survey of Young Americans is like the release of a new season of House of Cards — you can’t help but mine. Last month, the results of the 27th Edition of the Harvard IOP’s poll surveying 3,034 18- to 29-year-olds from March 18 to April 1, 2015 went public. Key Takeaways:
Millennial Democrats’ Candidate Preferences: Clinton 47%, Warren 11%, Biden 8%, O’Malley 3%, Webb 2%, Sanders 1%
Millennial Republicans’ Candidate Preferences: Carson 10%, Paul 8%, Bush 7%, Huckabee 7%, Walker 5%, Palin 5%, Cruz 5%, Christie 4%, Perry 3%, Santorum 3%, Rubio 2%, Fiorina 2%, Jindal 1%, Pataki 1%, Pence 0%, Graham 0%
SWIPE LEFT OR SWIPE RIGHT?: Attention Clinton, Paul, and Rubio campaigns: the latest Survey of Young Americans has some clues into methods for maximizing Millennial political engagement. Check it out: – Signed online petition: D 40%, R 35% – *Liked candidate on Facebook: D 27%, R 29% – *Advocate via Facebook: D 20%, R 20% – *Advocate via Twitter: D 17%, R 14% – Advocate via email/letter: D 14%, R 12% – Attend rally: D 14%, R 9% – Participate in online discussion: D 13%, R 19% – Donated money: D 13%, R 7% – Participated in govt/issues organization: D 8%, R 8% – Volunteered on a campaign: D 8%, R 6% * Base = people who have an account
College for the Masses, David Leonhard, The New York Times
Baltimore’s Colleges Ponder How They Can Fix a Broken City, Scott Carlson and Lee Gardner, The Chronicle of Higher Education