New Reports and Fact Sheets; CA Budget Wins; Update on Gainful Employment

Spotlight on Federal Student Loans at Community Colleges
New Fact Sheets on Student Borrowing
2014-15 California Budget Helps Neediest Students Better Afford College
Gainful Employment Rule: Where Things Stand
White Paper Examines Trade-Offs, Challenges If All Student Loan Payments Were Income-Driven

Spotlight on Federal Student Loans at Community Colleges

This summer, TICAS released two reports on federal student loan borrowing at community colleges:

At What Cost? How Community Colleges that Do Not Offer Federal Loans Put Students at Risk found nearly one million community college students across the nation were denied access to federal student loans in 2013-14 because their college did not participate in the loan program. Our report also documents substantial disparities in loan access by state, urban/non-urban status, and race/ethnicity. It includes data for every state and delves into particularly notable changes in California, Georgia, and North Carolina.

Produced in partnership with the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), Protecting Colleges And Students: Community College Strategies to Prevent Default, takes a unique look at student loan default at nine community colleges across the nation, and how those colleges are working to help students avoid default.

New Fact Sheets on Student Borrowing

Check out our easy-to-read fact sheets with key findings from the most recently available federal data:

  • Quick Facts About Student Debt takes a look at student debt at graduation for different types of colleges and Pell Grant recipients. 

  • Private Loans: Facts and Trends notes that nearly half of undergraduates with private student loans could have borrowed more in safer federal student loans.

  • Some for-profit college industry lobbyists blame students for the high debt and default levels at their schools, claiming that their students borrow more than they need in federal loans. However, our fact sheet shows there is no evidence to support this claim, and that giving colleges greater authority to reduce aid eligibility will make it harder for students to pay for and complete college. TICAS also looked at borrowing patterns at community colleges, and found that while some schools have expressed concerns that their students borrow more than they need in federal loans, the data do not support claims of "over-borrowing" at community colleges. The fact sheet found the vast majority of community college students do not borrow federal loans at all, and the few who do borrow do not take out large loan amounts.

For more information, please visit our Fact Sheets about Student Debt and Financial Aid page.

2014-15 California Budget Helps Neediest Students Better Afford College

The California state budget signed by Governor Jerry Brown in June has some welcome news for the state's most financially strapped college students. The budget includes an increase to the long-stagnant Cal Grant B access award, which helps California's lowest income students pay for books, supplies, transportation, and other non-tuition costs of attending college. The access award was $1,473 and will now be $1,648. This is the first increase in over a decade.

The budget also enables Cal Grant recipients who lose eligibility for renewal grants because their financial situation temporarily improves to later regain eligibility if their finances worsen, fixing an unintended consequence of the 2012 Budget Act. Both of these changes are consistent with the priorities of a diverse coalition of student, civil rights, business, and college access organizations that support strengthening Cal Grants to better serve the state's neediest students.

Gainful Employment Rule: Where Things Stand

This spring, thousands of you told the U.S. Department of Education to strengthen its "gainful employment" regulation to better protect students and taxpayers from career education programs that over-charge and under-deliver. We'd like to thank those of you who joined the more than 30,000 people who submitted comments urging the Department to issue a strong final rule!  At least 45 members of Congress and 9 state attorneys general also submitted comments calling for a strong final rule.

Our analysis of data released by the Department found that 114 career education programs that had more defaulters than graduates would pass under the proposed rule, and the New York Times Editorial Board cited this finding in calling for a stronger final regulation.

And following the announcement that for-profit Corinthian Colleges will sell or close all of its campuses, we explained that if the Department had enforced the law requiring career education programs to prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation, a strong rule would have forced the worst performing programs to improve or lose eligibility for funding before burying countless students with debts that may haunt them for the rest of their lives.

The Department has said it will issue the final regulation by November 1 so it can go into effect next year, but the for-profit college industry continues to lobby the Administration and Congress to water down or block the final rule. We will continue to keep you updated on this issue.

White Paper Examines Trade-Offs, Challenges If All Student Loan Payments Were Income-Driven

Our latest white paper found that while income-driven repayment (IDR) is a crucial option for student loan borrowers, making it mandatory could have a range of unintended consequences. We analyzed the potential effects of requiring IDR for all federal loans - as some have proposed - and relying on paycheck withholding for loan payments, with particular attention to the implications for low-income students and families.

The paper also includes recommendations to streamline and improve student loan repayment options.

Read the white paper