Blog

Latasha Myers

Michelle Obama Continues Push for Increased College Access

In November, we reported on First Lady Michelle Obama’s announcement that she will take on a policy-driven initiative to increase college going rates. While speaking at a White House college summit, Mrs. Obama said that she will spend the rest of President Obama’s term in office taking on a bigger role to achieve this mission. She plans to talk directly to young people, particularly low-income students and their families, about the importance of pursuing a college degree.

Unpredictable Interest Rates Make Federal Grants Even More Important

According to Congressional Budget Office estimates for the 2015-16 school year, the average undergraduate borrower will pay 5.72 percent to borrow from the federal government; for graduate borrowers the rate is forecasted at 7.27 percent, and for Parent Plus loans, 8.27 percent. All rates are higher than what students paid to take out loans this year.

What may be even more troubling than the rising interest rates is that the CBO has projected that the federal government will generate $127 billion in profits from loan payments over the next decade.

Predatory Programs Need to Shape Up or Ship Out

There are less than two weeks left for the public to weigh in on the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed “gainful employment” regulation. The creation of this rule was an important step toward ensuring that career education programs, many of which are at for-profit colleges, are held accountable for preparing students for work without saddling them with unmanageable student loan debt.

Still, the department needs to do more to make sure that students are adequately protected. According to a statistic reported by Young Invincibles, only 1 in 10 students go to a for-profit college, but yet they account for 46 percent of all federal student loan defaults. Read more...

TODAY, don’t miss a press conference with Young Invincibles, joined by Sens. Tom Harkin, Dick Durbin, Chris Murphy, and Brian Schatz, who will call on the U.S. Department of Education to release stronger protections for students against predatory career education programs. Join them at 10:30 a.m. today in room S-115 at the U.S. Capitol.  

Bill Will Create Loan Free College for Low-Income Virginia Residence

With the recent good news that the University of Virginia (U.Va) has once again prioritized financial aid for its lowest-income students, a promising bill in Virginia has emerged that will make a larger, statewide commitment to college affordability.  

Introduced by Virginia Delegate Rob Krupicka, Virginia College for All (formerly, the Virginia Guaranteed Assistance Program) would offer no-loan guarantees to low-income students and interest free loans to students of middle-income families who graduate within 150 percent of the time to standard completion (6 years for a traditional four year college and 3 years for a two year college).

New Bill To Protect Students From “Auto-Defaults” on Private Loans

If you have ever lost a parent, grandparent or sibling, you’ll know that on top of the pain of loss and grief, there are a thousand details that need to be addressed. But one of those details shouldn’t be your student loans.

The last thing that a borrower needs to have on their mind when someone close to them has passed away is how it will affect their student loans. Sadly though, many private student loan lenders do just that, adding headache on top of heartache.

In a report released last month, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau revealed that many private student loan contracts have clauses that automatically accelerate loans into default upon the death of the cosigner or if the consigner files for bankruptcy. This is the case even if the borrower has been making on-time payments. In some cases, lenders have gone as far as to ask for the full, early repayment of the loan. Often times cosigners are parents, grandparents, or someone else who is close to the borrower. As of 2011, about 90 percent of private student loans had cosigners. Continue reading...

Federal Legislation Introduced to Stop Abuses of Veterans’ Education Tuition Dollars

While we celebrate service members’ valor today on Veterans’ Day, we must also ensure that the men and women who protect our nation are able to pursue a valuable degree and worthwhile education at home. Yet, many for-profit colleges have preyed on military personnel— to acquire access to their federal educational benefits — and are luring them into enrolling at colleges that may not offer them the best education.

Fortunately, some members of Congress are pushing legislation to curtail further abuses.

Wisconsin State Legislation to Tackle Student Loan Debt

There is exciting news in the Badger State. Wisconsin policymakers are attempting to lower student loan debt.

As reported by One Wisconsin Now, the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act (SB 375) introduced by state senators Dave Hansen and Cory Mason would:

Working through college still not enough to cover high cost

A new survey by Citigroup and Seventeen Magazine reveals that while many college students are paying for most of their expenses, just a handful of students are able manage the burden of high tuition cost.

According to the survey, only 18 percent of students pay their way through college. The rest? 41 percent of students in the survey reported relying on financial aid – which includes student loans - to pay for their education, 16 percent of students said they finance their education through scholarships, and only 22 percent reported that their parents pick up the tab. On the other hand, 60 percent of respondents said their parent did, however, pay their monthly cell phone bill.

Low-Income Students Deserve a Real ‘CHANCE’ at Affordable College

Each year millions of Americans depend on Pell Grants to help make college affordable. Research has shown that need-based grant aid, like Pell Grants, increases college enrollment among low- and moderate-income students. But with college costs skyrocketing over the last three decades, Pell Grants have lost much of their purchasing power. In the 1980s, Pell Grants covered 77 percent of the cost of college at a four-year public college for low-income students. Today that share has dropped significantly to only 31 percent of the cost.

Michelle Obama to Advance Policy in College Accessibility

First lady Michelle Obama announced on Tuesday that she will take on a policy driven initiative to promote all students to continue their education beyond high school. The New York Times writes:

“In her new project, Mrs. Obama will work with the Education Department to help further President Obama’s initiative to vault the United States from 12th to first in the world in the percentage of college graduates by 2020.”

All students deserve affordable access to higher education and we applaud Mrs. Obama for coming to the front lines of this critical issue. Currently, our college-educated generation is crippled with student debt, which has a crippling effect our economy. Mrs. Obama said in her speech:

Senator Warren to Introduce Bill to Allow Student Borrowers to Refinance Loans

Do you have a mortgage or car loan and wish to refinance to a lower interest rate? Congratulations, you have that consumer protection. But do you know who doesn’t? Student loan borrowers. Luckily, new legislation soon to be introduced in the U.S. Senate may change this.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) recently announced her plans to introduce a bill that will allow students to refinance their federal student loans to the lower interest rates under the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013. A measure that has the potential to save student loan borrowers thousands of dollars over the course of a loan’s life.

Continue to Put Pressure on the Department of Education for a Strong Gainful Rule

With the public comment period for the proposed “gainful employment” regulations long closed, we have time to look back at what we’ve accomplished and see what work is still to be done.

With the help of borrowers, students, parents, and advocates from around the country, tens of thousands of comments were submitted to the U.S. Department of Education urging them to issue a stronger final “gainful employment” rule.

How Much Impact Does Student Debt Really Have on the Economy?

Student loan debt is rapidly approaching $1.2 trillion. What’s worse is that, with little reliable data available about the impact of student loan debt, we can't assess the real effect it's having on the economy. Regardless, we do know that student debt isn't good for sustaining a growing nation.

Freshly-minted, young graduates should be leaving college ready for the workforce and to help feed our thriving economy. Instead, burdened with high amounts of student debt, they usually don't have the extra cash to thrust back into the economy.

In-State Tuition for Vets May be Closer Than You Think

Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation that would induce public universities around the country to give veterans in-state tuition rates. With an astounding 390 House members on both sides of the aisle voting in favor of the bill (if only all agreements in Congress were that easy), the GI Tuition Fairness Act (H.R. 357) will help to ensure that our service members are able to pursue a fairly priced college education when they return home.

UVa’s Vice Rector is Out of Touch With Reality: Low-Income Students Should Not be Crippled with Debt

As many of you may know, early in August, the University of Virginia’s (UVa) Board of Visitor (BOV) – the governing board for the institution - voted to slash overall funding for AccessUVa, the school’s financial aid program, and completely eradicate the no-loan policy for low-income students in the program. Vice Rector of the Board, William Goodwin, justified the cuts by proclaiming that low income students shouldn’t get an advantage wealthier students don’t have, “they all graduate with the same degree”, as reported in this Daily Progress article.

Many For-Profit College Companies Deliver Broken Promises and Failed Dreams

If you watch daytime or late-night TV, you’ve seen the slick, 30-second commercials that promise down-on-their-luck viewers a fairy godmother-like solution – a quick, affordable, college-level education that provides hands-on experience and positions students to land their dream job. If you want proof of the quality of these career education programs, the commercials continue, look no further than the myriad of success stories of their graduates.

Yesterday’s Boston Globe article, “For-profit colleges get harsh grades by former students: Graduates complain of onerous debt, unmet promises about careers,” paints a more realistic story of what actually happens to former students of these schools, such as:

CFPB New Rule to Oversee Student Loan Servicers

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a new rule that puts the seven largest non-bank student loan servicers under its supervisory jurisdiction. Student loan servicers are third-party companies such as Sallie Mae, Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Nelnet Servicing and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency that manage borrowers account and process their monthly payments. Under this new rule, they will join banks that service student loans in being regulated by the CFPB.

The Federal Government is Profiting off of Your Student Debt

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report revealing that the federal government stands to make $66 billion in profits from student loans that originated between 2007 and 2012.

Soon following, a group of nine Senators strongly responded to the report, advocating for policies that address student loan debt, loan refinancing, and lower interest rates. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), states, "This is obscene. The government should not be making $66 billion in profits off the backs of our students. The report issued today reinforces what we already knew - instead of investing in our children and their futures, the government is squeezing profits out of our young people and adding to the mountain of debt they will spend their lives struggling to repay."

How a Government Shutdown Will Affect College Students

In the event that there’s an extended government shutdown, The Washington Post reports that most of the U.S. Education Department’s employees won’t be reporting to work. While this doesn’t have a major impact on federal student aid – as it has already been dispersed for this semester – many of you in college may still feel the effects.

Students of Color Need a Strong Gainful Rule, According to New Analysis

It is a well-known fact that many for-profit colleges fail to live up to their end of the deal with students. These for-profits lure students into enrolling with the promise of landing a high-paying job after they graduate. But come graduation — or for the many who leave without finishing — all a lot of students are left with is a mountain of debt. Oftentimes for-profits’ primary interest is to bring in the federal financial aid dollars students receive — like those from Pell Grants, federal student loan dollars, and veterans benefits — while educating students becomes secondary or worse. This is particularly worrisome for African American and Latino students who make up 21 percent of total postsecondary enrollment, yet they represent 41 percent of students at for-profit institutions.

New Report Finds Student Loan Debt Increases by Over Ten Percent

A report shows that student loan debt has increased 10.5 percent in just one year. According to The Project on Student Debt at The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), from 2011 to 2012, average student loan debt rose from $26,600 to 29,400.

President Obama’s Budget Plan Notices Pell, Student Loans, and Tax Credits

 

President Obama released his proposed $3.9 trillion budget for fiscal year 2015 on Tuesday. Although the budget plan serves chiefly to highlight the president’s priorities, the attention his plan gives to measures that will help improve college affordability should not be overlooked.  

For starters, the maximum Pell Grant would increase by $100, allowing students who demonstrate financial need to obtain up to $5,830. Additionally, the Washington Post  reports:

“Obama is seeking $7 billion over 10 years to reward colleges that enroll Pell Grant recipients and help them graduate on time. And the president wants $4 billion over 10 years for a fund to encourage states to fund colleges and universities based on outcomes such as on-time graduation rates.”

#OutWithStudentDebt Video Project to Award $500 Each to Three Top Video Submissions

Led by Student Debt Crisist, a number of groups have decided to collaborate on the #OutWithStudentDebt Video Project – an initiative designed to help shed the stigma of shame and embarrassment that comes along with the burden of student loan debt.

How is Your State Performing? New Report Cards Help Evaluate Investment in Higher Education

New state report cards reveal that some states are failing their students (or barely passing) when it comes to their commitment to higher education. As states are the No. 1 driver of rising college tuition, it’s about time we get to see just how well they are performing.

Today, Young Invincibles, a national organization committed to expanding economic opportunities for young adults, released report cards grading all 50 states on their investment in higher education. The report cards give each state an A-F letter grade based on five categories: tuition, spending per student, burden on families, state aid to students, and prioritizing education in the budget.

Simple Tips for Keeping the Cost of College Low

At last, good advice to help pay for college and reduce those ever accumulating costs!

Christina Couch, a freelance writer and author of "Virginia Colleges 101", gives some useful tips for current college students, prospective students, and recent graduates. Couch offers information that includes everything from keeping an eye on federal policy, to keeping grades up while in school, and taking advantage of income-based loan repayment plans.

Read the full list of 10 tips at bankrate.com, but click on the heading for the list, sans explanation.

Google Hangout With CFPB hosted by Higher Education Advocates Provides Tips on Managing Student Debt

On Tuesday, Young Invincibles and StudentDebtCrisis.org hosted a Google Hangout on the “Top 5 Tips for Tackling Your Student Debt.” Rohit Chopra, of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, offered some of his best tips for managing student loan debt. In case you missed the great conversation, here’s a brief recap of some of the advice offered:

“99 Percent: The Occupy Wall Street Collaboration Film” Highlights Student Debt Crisis

Participant Media has helped produce “99 Percent: The Occupy Wall Street Collaboration Film”, which details the gripping accounts of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Student debt-- something 1.2 trillion of the 99% are facing-- is a main focus of the documentary. It’s a must-see film telling the story of how disenfranchised youth, many of whom have debts they can’t pay, created a powerful voice for the 99 percent.

New Bill in Florida Will Make College More Affordable for Undocumented Students

 

The Florida House recently passed a bill that would offer in-state tuition rates to undocumented students in the state.

Sign the petition urging the Florida Senate to pass HB 851.

CFPB Report Finds Private Student Loan Borrowers Have Real Concerns

As college tuition and fees continue to rise, more students are finding that they have to turn to private loans - which are usually tagged with higher interest rates and less consumer protections than federal loans - in order to finance their degree. As of July 2012, about 850,000 private loans were in default.

This new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), summarizes roughly 3,800 complaints on private student loans received from October 1st, 2012 to September 30th, 2013. The most common complaints reported by students were having difficulties making advanced payments on their loans