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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.

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...

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.

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.”

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."

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.

The Students Who Will (and Won’t) Get to DREAM In-State

Originally posted on The Equity Line

Every year, 65,000 undocumented students who have lived in the United States for at least five years graduate from high school. Only 5-10 percent of them, though, go on to college; the majority of these students either give up on their dreams or put them on hold because they are denied the opportunities for an affordable higher education.

This week, a bipartisan organization launched TheDream.US, a $25 billion scholarship fund that will provide full tuition for 1,000 undocumented students nationwide. Currently, because of their status, they are ineligible for federal financial aid (meaning no Pell Grants or low-interest loans), so this will help draw the bridge to college for many.

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.

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).

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.

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.

U.S. Dept. Of Ed College Ratings Hearing, George Mason

George Mason University recently hosted the U.S. Department of Education’s second of four college affordability forums to discuss the Obama administration’s proposed college ratings system. At the event, students expressed the same concerns to the department that thousands of current and prospective college students, like me, have across the nation: Students want more data to assess our financial future before enrolling in college and taking on massive amounts of student loan debt. To start, these data need to include information about the net price of college, the average incomes of graduates in different fields, and data on internship placement rates.

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.

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.

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.