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All Candidates Should Address College Affordability & Student Debt

August 6, 2015

Contacts: Colin Seeberger,, 214.223.2913; Sarah Schultz,, 202.734.6510

All Candidates Should Address College Affordability & Student Debt

[WASHINGTON]– Ahead of this evening’s inaugural presidential debate, Young Invincibles’ Executive Director Jen Mishory released the following statements on college affordability, easing the burden of student debt, and strategies for increasing quality in higher education. Please also refer to Young Invincibles’ higher education proposals for a more in-depth analysis of these policy solutions:

Reducing Student Debt

Universal Income-Based Repayment

“Student debt has doubled since 2008, and the number of student borrowers has gone up by roughly 50 percent during that same time period; simultaneously, Millennials have seen their wages decline by 10 percent over the course of the last decade. Student debt is exacting a greater toll on this generation than ever before. We need to make income-based repayment universal – enabling all borrowers to repay their loans as a proportion of their income. This is a commonsense idea that has earned bipartisan support in the past.”

Student Loan Interest Rates

“The students we talk to want to repay their debt, but high interest rate loans and soaring debt are making that reality harder to achieve. The government shouldn’t be making a profit off the backs of students by charging borrowers artificially high interest rates. Refinancing student loans so that borrowers can take advantage of today’s lower interest rates could save some borrowers thousands of dollars over the life of their loans. If homeowners can refinance a mortgage and auto loan holders can refinance their debt, we should guarantee student borrowers that same option.”

Protect Borrowers

“Bad practices in loan servicing and debt collection harm too many people with student debt. We need to eradicate these bad practices and restore bankruptcy protections for borrowers who truly need it.

College Affordability: Pathway to Debt-Free

Supporting Federal and State Investment in Higher Education

“We’ve seen tuition skyrocket more than twice the rate of inflation since the Great Recession, so it is not surprising that American parents have identified college affordability as their chief financial concern. 47 states are currently spending less on higher education per student than they were before the Great Recession. Any plan to fix the nation’s college affordability problem must encourage states to return their investment in higher education to pre-Recession levels and boost our federal investments in the Pell grant to match the national average in-state tuition. We should also make Pell year-round and bolster aid programs like federal work study. 65 percent of jobs will require some sort of higher education degree by 2020, but unfortunately we stand to fall well short of that goal unless we take bold steps to make college more affordable.”

Supporting Student Parents

“Inadequate financial aid isn’t the only thing depressing college completion rates. The nature of our student population has changed substantially in the last few decades, but our higher education system has yet to accommodate their needs. For instance, since the turn of the century, the number of student parents has increased by 50 percent. Any plan intending to boost degree attainment should support the aspirations of nontraditional students by doing things like expanding access to campus-based child care.”

Simplifying the Financial Aid Process

“We need to make sure that students can actually get the help they qualify for – right now, it’s too hard for students and families to fill out the FAFSA and access aid.”

Innovation and Quality

Give Students and Families Clear Choices

“The higher education industry is too murky; students struggle to navigate the system without knowing the quality of a school, the success of a program, or the degree that is mostly like to land them a job. Let’s give students the data they need to make informed decisions through comprehensive, clear information systems they can rely on. In tandem, we also have to increase and improve counseling to support students as they make critical choices.”

Ensuring Schools Have Skin in the Game

“We should ensure that schools have skin in the game by tracking if their graduates can repay their debt and force failing schools to bear some of this liability if they can’t. This concept, known as risk sharing, has bipartisan support in Congress and would incentivize schools to expedite completion while making their programs as affordable as possible without sacrificing quality.”

Accountability for Schools

“Too many students are being taken advantage of by schools hoping to cash in on their dreams of earning a college degree. Every candidate should stand up for students and crack down on the bad actors, pulling taxpayer dollars from failing schools. If you care about how taxpayer dollars are being spent, you have to care about the quality of our colleges and universities.”


“Our education system should include proven pathways to skilled jobs through apprenticeships, which successfully give young people skills and credentials, and bring down the cost of schooling.”