Administration’s Gainful Employment Proposal Must Be Strengthened; Our Take on the President’s Budget; Other News

Administration's Gainful Employment Proposal Must Be Strengthened
The President's FY15 Budget Fully Funds Pell Grants, Improves Income-Driven Repayment, and Expands Access to the Most Targeted Education Tax Credit
TICAS Testifies at Two Cal Grant Hearings

Community College Groups Honor TICAS' Debbie Cochrane

Administration's Gainful Employment Proposal Must Be Strengthened

The Education Department this month released its proposed "gainful employment" regulation. While we commend the Administration for issuing a proposed rule, it needs to be strengthened to adequately protect students and taxpayers and prompt schools to quickly improve or end weak programs that consistently leave students with debts they can't pay. The rule enforces a federal law requiring career education programs that receive federal student aid - at public, nonprofit, and for-profit colleges - to prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation. 

Read our statement on the proposed rule

The President's FY15 Budget Fully Funds Pell Grants, Improves Income-Driven Repayment, and Expands Access to the Most Targeted Education Tax Credit  

President Obama released his fiscal year 2015 budget earlier this month, and we welcomed the steps it takes to make college more affordable for millions of Americans. It does this by investing in Pell Grants, making the American Opportunity Tax Credit permanent and expanding access to it, improving income-driven federal student loan repayment plans, and preventing the taxation of Pell Grants and debts forgiven for borrowers in income-driven repayment plans. 

The budget funds the scheduled $100 increase in the maximum Pell Grant to $5,830 in 2015-16, helping nearly nine million students attend and complete college. Still, even with the increase, the maximum Pell Grant is expected to cover the smallest share of the cost of attending a four-year public college since the program was started.

The budget also improves income-driven repayment, making more borrowers eligible to cap their monthly payments at 10 percent of their discretionary income and have any debt remaining after 20 years discharged without taxation. As we have recommended, the proposal also makes permanent the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), which research suggests is the most likely of the current tax benefits to increase college access and success, and enables more Pell recipients to benefit from the tax credit.

Read our press release on the budget proposal

TICAS Testifies at Two Cal Grant Hearings

This month, TICAS research director Debbie Cochrane was invited to testify about Cal Grants before both the California Assembly and Senate budget subcommittees. She shared new TICAS findings on college affordability at different income levels and recommended ways to strengthen Cal Grants for the state's neediest students. The recommendations, supported by a diverse coalition of student, civil rights, business, and college access organizations, include: increasing the Cal Grant B Access Award, which helps the lowest income recipients pay for college costs beyond tuition; providing Cal Grants to more nontraditional students; and allowing Cal Grant B students to receive tuition and fee support during their freshman year. Students and representatives of several coalition members, including California Competes, CALPIRG, the California State Student Association, the Earned Assets Resource Network, and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, echoed these priorities. Debbie noted these reforms "are affordable and within reach if the legislature chooses to make college affordability a priority."

Read Debbie's testimony

View the supplemental one-pager

Community College Groups Honor TICAS' Debbie Cochrane

The Association of Community College Trustees and the American Association of Community Colleges recognized TICAS research director Debbie Cochrane's "exceptional contributions at the federal level in promoting national public policies and goals of community colleges and their students" with their 2014 Government Relations Award. Scott Lay, CEO of the Community College League of California, presented Debbie with the award.