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New Income-Driven Repayment Plan Now Available for ALL Federal Direct Student Loan Borrowers: REPAYE

Starting today, all borrowers with federal Direct student loans have access to a new repayment plan with monthly payments limited to 10% of your discretionary income. You can enroll regardless of when you borrowed. If you’re having trouble affording your monthly payments – or just want the assurance of payments based on your income – check out the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) plan and see if it’s right for you.

A Decade of Gains and Gaps in College Graduation Rates: A Q&A With Kimberlee Eberle-Sudré

Today, we released a new analysis, looking at a decade of graduation rates at four-year, public institutions. The report — titled Rising Tide: Do College Grad Rate Gains Benefit All Students? — shows that the majority of institutions have made improvements in these last 10 years, but those improvements don’t always translate into gains for everyone. I spoke with Kimberlee Eberle-Sudré, one of the authors of the report, to learn more.

Mapping Student Debt

More than 42 million Americans owe a total of $1.1 trillion in student debt, making it the second-largest liability on the national balance sheet. A generation ago, student debt was a relative rarity, but for today’s students and recent graduates, it’s a central fact of economic life that we don’t know much about. Mapping Student Debt is changing that.

Hey Mizzou, It’s Time to Step Up

Now that the University of Missouri’s president has resigned and the chancellor has announced that he’ll step down at the end of the year, hopefully students’ concerns will be addressed. Of all Concerned Student 1950’s list of demands, there is one that particularly impressed me because of its urgency in requiring a plan of action:

Corinthian Colleges Ordered to Pay Damages to Students

Federal consumer regulators on Wednesday won a major court battle against Corinthian Colleges Inc., the former national for-profit chain that entered bankruptcy this year amid claims of defrauding students.

A federal judge in Illinois ruled that Corinthian “engaged in deceptive practices” by misleading students about their career prospects, according to documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal. 

Coalition Letter Opposing Gainful Employment Riders

A letter to all Members of Congress from more than 50 organizations expressing strong opposition to any appropriations rider that would block or delay implementation of the gainful employment regulation.

How Best To Serve Pell Students? These Colleges Know How

The Pell Partnership, our latest report, has been noted for “debunk[ing] the notion that Pell grants are somehow being wasted.” And it’s true. Quite a few colleges and universities across the country are serving low-income students well — that is, they are graduating them at the same rates as (or in some cases, even better than) their peers from high-income families.

We spoke with nearly a dozen of these schools to learn more about how they recruit, support (academically and financially), and otherwise ensure low-income students a fair chance at a postsecondary degree.

Many Colleges Aren’t Doing Enough to Fulfill the Promise of the Pell Grant Program

Several recent reports have estimated a significant gap in the college completion rates of the low-income students who receive federal Pell Grants and other college students, leading some to question the effectiveness of this investment of taxpayer dollars. But, according to a new report and online data tool we’re releasing today, the average graduation gap between Pell and non-Pell students at the institutional level is much smaller: only 5.7 percentage points.

Finally, Help for Pell Students at Closed Campuses

When colleges shutter their campuses, who’s harmed the most? Students are, especially low-income students. They are the ones with the least protection. That’s why it was so refreshing to see Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) stand up for them by introducing the “Pell Restoration Act of 2015,” which will allow Pell Grant recipients the ability to continue their education at another institution.

Setting the Record Straight on Pell

Since Hechinger Report released its analysis on the graduation rates of Pell Grant recipients, some people have called the effectiveness of the Pell Grant program into question. Lost in those arguments, though, are three crucial points about the program:

Young Invincibles’ #MillennialMon Twitter Chat

Did you see Young Invincibles’ #MillennialMon Twitter chat on Solving the Student Debt Issue?

How to Avoid Student Debt Relief Scams

If you’ve seen or heard ads around federal student loans that seem to good to be true, they probably are. Many of these debt relief companies are charging exorbitant fees for these services. 

So How Did Financial Aid Come About?

Recently we shared two of the films in a series produced by the Lumina Foundation and the Institute for Higher Education Policy. The series — Looking Back to Move Forward: A History of Federal Student Aid — provides insight into the evolution of financial aid through first-hand experiences with the policymaking process.

Why You Shouldn’t Judge a College By its Cover

Victory University.

Just the name alone makes it sound like the most magical school on earth, doesn’t it? It conjures up visions of a campus filled with opportunity, graduates walking away with their caps and gowns and dream jobs making more money than anyone could imagine.

It’s not too late to share your #studentdebtstress story

In May, we asked you to tell us your #StudentDebtStress story by July 13th. It’s not too late to share your story.

Over 40 million Americans are working to repay more than $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loan debt.

Some borrowers have already shared with us their experiences with their student loan servicer (the company that sends a bill each month). We’ve released the first batch of your stories and we encourage you to take a look at what we’re hearing from the public at regulations.gov.

An Open Letter to College Dropout Factories

Dear College Dropout Factories,

As part of our quest to increase the public demand for greater accountability in higher education, The Education Trust has continued our commitment to identifying four-year colleges and universities that fail to graduate the vast majority of their students in a timely fashion. Roughly 95 percent of all other four-year institutions have higher graduation rates than you do. This year, 113 institutions made the list of college dropout factories, 65 of which were on this same list last year...

A Plan for Making College Affordable

If you’ve been following #highered on social media lately, you may have noticed that college affordability and student loan debt are attracting attention of the 2016 presidential contenders. Many candidates harp on colleges to lower costs and on states to increase their funding, but any solution to making college more affordable needs to do more...

For Corinthian Colleges Students: What You Need to Know about Debt Relief

Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Education announced new steps to protect students from abusive for-profit colleges, as well as a new debt relief process for students at Corinthian Colleges – which operated schools under the names Everest, Heald, and Wyotech.

Information for borrowers is available at the Federal Student Aid (FSA) website...

What I Didn’t Know About Choosing a College

When I was a high school senior (many moons ago), I thought I was well-equipped to make the best college choice for me. I had read the brochures (Google wasn’t a thing back then); talked with my school counselor as well as friends and family; and visited campuses to check things out in person. After doing all of that and receiving acceptance letters and financial aid packages, I made a decision...

An Updated College Results Online = More Data for You

College Results Online has been updated with the most recent data from the federal government (2012-13), giving you even more information to compare in this one-stop shop tool. At CollegeResults.org — now in its 10th year of compiling and sharing critical information on colleges across the country — you can select nearly any four-year college or university and compare its graduation rate with that of similar institutions serving similar students.

The Lumina Foundation’s “Where Financial Aid Began: Partnering with Campuses and States”

The last time we checked in, we shared Part 3 of the Lumina Foundation and Institute for Higher Education Policy’s Looking Back to Move Forward: A History of Federal Student Aid. It’s a great documentary series on the evolution of federal student aid. 

CFPB Public Hearing on Student Debt

If you live in Milwaukee or plan to be there this week, consider joining the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for a public hearing on student debt this Thursday. 

Reminder: What happens to your student loans if your school is shut down

When you’re told that your college will be shutting down, there can be a lot of uncertainty about what comes next. In light of recent closures of certain for-profit colleges, we wanted to share some helpful advice to help you navigate the situation.

Working Toward a Fresh Start for Corinthian Students

Imagine this: You’re 24, have your high school diploma, and have been working in a low-wage job for six years when you see an advertisement for a new career training program at a local, for-profit university. The ad promises to teach the latest, cutting-edge skills that will guarantee you a high-paying career...

A Must-See: The Lumina Foundation’s “A History of Federal Student Aid”

Have you seen The Lumina Foundation and the Institute for Higher Education Policy’s film series, Looking Back to Move Forward: A History of Federal Student Aid? The four-part series provides insight into the evolution of federal student aid over the last 60 years.

Pell Grants have helped millions of students from low-income families attend college. But you’ll be surprised to see the struggle that the program had to go through to become what it is today.

Celebrating 10 Years of College Results Online!

Ten years ago, we created College Results Online to challenge the conventional wisdom that colleges’ graduation rates were simply a function of the students they served. Since then, this online tool has shown us that colleges serving similar students often get very different results.

Student Stories: The Devastating Impact of Some For-Profits

The post and video below are from CNNMoney

Students across the country are shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for degrees that end up being completely worthless.

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:

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.

Burned by a Career-Ed Program: Real and Raw Student Stories

The U.S. Department of Education plans to release its final "gainful employment" rule in October 2014. The draft rule, circulated by the department earlier this year, proposed cutting off access to federal financial aid for career-education programs (many of which are at for-profit colleges) whose graduates have high student loan default rates or high levels of student loan debt relative to their incomes. It is essential that the department adopt a final rule with strong protections for students.

During the month of May we asked students to submit their stories as public comments on the department’s draft “gainful employment” rule. Many of the student victims who have been exploited and defrauded by career-education programs offered compelling evidence of the need for stronger protections. Here’s what some of them had to say:

First Come, Last Served

University Does Not Do Enough to Accommodate First-Generation Students

This blog was cross-posted from The Chicago Maroon, by Lynda Lopez

Recently, UChicago has shown an increased commitment to recruiting low-income students through initiatives such as QuestBridge and UChicago Promise. Fifty-one students in the Class of 2018 received full four-year scholarships through QuestBridge, the highest among all 35 partner colleges; 73 students in the Class of 2017 benefited from UChicago Promise, which includes a guarantee of no loans for Chicago residents who attended Chicago high schools and are admitted to the College.

All these initiatives are great, but what happens after these students arrive on campus? Many of them are also first-generation, meaning they are the first in their families to attend college.

Being a low-income, first-generation college student can be like jumping into a pool without knowing how to swim. As the daughter of immigrants with no college graduates in my family, I didn’t have a good idea of what to do once I was here. I didn’t know how to ask professors or TAs for help or how to pick the right classes. Everything was foreign to me.

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. 

 

 

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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.

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

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.

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.

The Bright Spot in President Obama’s Plan on Student Debt and College Affordability

Reviews for President Obama’s agenda has been mixed, but we’ll take a look on the bright side: by creating a new rating system for colleges based on affordability and student performance, the President’s new plan intends to provide the financial help that many of our students deserve, while also providing the kick that many colleges may need to shape up.

University of Virginia Overhauls AccessUVA for Low & Middle Income Students, Creates More Debt

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Last week, the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors – a Governor-appointed board responsible for long-term planning for the University – voted to end Access UVA, and will force low-income program participants to take out nearly $30,000 in student loans to attend UVA.