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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.

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:

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.

Here’s How to Strengthen the Gainful Employment Rule

 

Blog was originally posted on The Equity Line 

Students traveled to Capitol Hill last week to tell Congress the hardships they have faced because the career education programs in which they were enrolled left them with nothing more than high debt and little, if any, real career preparation. Unfortunately, we know far too well that their stories aren’t unique. Students all across this country enrolled in predatory career education programs have similar experiences.

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.  

Take Action: Protect Students Against Predatory Programs

The U.S. Department of Education recently released its draft regulation that will take federal aid dollars away from career education programs that rip students off — many of these are for-profit colleges. While this is good news, the department has not gone far enough to protect students who frequently leave these programs with a meaningless degree (or no degree at all) and huge sums of debt. Students desperately need a strong rule to ensure that the schools they are going to meet minimal standards of quality and cost. Taxpayers also need a strong rule to make sure that they are seeing value for the billions of federal dollars that these schools collect from student financial aid. Click here to send a letter to the department now. 

 

 

 

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.

Senators Introduce Bill to Protect Pell Grants

 

35 years ago the maximum Pell Grant paid for 77 percent of the cost of tuition at an in-state, four-year college, today, that same Pell Grant pays for less than one-third of a student’s education. Furthermore, students who want to attend school year round to finish their degree in less time are not allowed to receive year-round Pell funding.  

With nearly nine million American students depending on Pell Grants to attend and complete college, this program must remain a priority in Washington.   

Luckily, there is some good news.

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.

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."

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:

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).

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.

These are the faces of our student debt crisis.

Last week, President Obama signed the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act into law, effectively guaranteeing potentially sky-high interest rates for future students. However, even though Congress made the wrong deal for students, student loan interest rates are really the symptom of a much larger disease. College costs too damn much! And, that’s the real issue affecting millions of Americans.

Government Stands to Make Billions Off the Backs of Students With New Student Loan Deal

Last Wednesday, the Senate passed a “compromise” bill on student loans, 81 to 18, to tie the federal student loan interest rates to the market rates. The compromise would lower interest rates for subsidized Stafford loan borrowers now, but allow them to rise way too high in the long run—making it even harder for students to repay their loans.