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The Project on Student Debt has created a Facebook group, which we're using to promote the Income-Based Repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs. Income-Based Repayment becomes available on July 1, so we’re spreading the word about this new federal program and IBRinfo in every way we can. The Project's Facebook group is not only a way to raise awareness about our work, but a forum for borrowers to ask questions about their student loan debt or share their stories. Join us on Facebook Visit IBRinfo.org and tell your friends

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The Institute for College Access & Success' acting president Lauren Asher appears on CNN's American Morning.

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Statement of Deborah Frankle Cochrane Program Director, The Institute for College Access & Success

After months of arduous budget negotiations, the California legislature today passed an 18-month budget that maintains the state’s investment in student aid. This budget protects Cal Grants from attempts to cut both eligibility and grant levels, which would have had a devastating impact on California students. Cal Grants are the state’s primary source of financial aid and helped 300,000 students pay for college last year. This move comes just days after President Obama signed the federal economic stimulus package into law, which includes the largest Pell Grant increase in the program’s history. Together, these commitments to college affordability will help Californians get the education and skills they need to help our state stay economically competitive in these difficult times.

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It's a new year with a new administration in Washington, and the dire economic situation has made college affordability a top concern for policymakers and consumers alike. Our new policy agenda for 2009 aims to limit the growth and risks of student debt by increasing grant aid, strengthening consumer protections, and ensuring easy access to new affordable repayment options.

The Project on Student Debt's current priorities include:

  • Increase access to need-based grant aid
  • Strengthen consumer protections for private student loan borrowers
  • Ensure easy access to Income-Based Repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Read the policy agenda in its entirety here

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Newly confirmed Secretary of Education Arne Duncan responds to comments and ideas submitted to the Citizen's Briefing Book on Change.gov about the future of higher education under the Obama Administration. He focuses on FAFSA simplification, loan forgiveness and tax credits for public service, and increasing the Pell Grant.

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The Delta Cost Project recently released the study “Trends in College Spending: Where does the money come from? Where does it go?” which analyzed enrollment patterns, revenue trends, spending for education, and spending increases between 2002 and 2006 at 1944 colleges and universities. The report found that students are carrying a greater share of the cost of their education, even as institutions spend less on instruction.

Additional findings include:

  • The fastest growth in enrollment occurred at public community colleges with the least resources and with the greatest evidence of budget cuts.
  • At public institutions, spending on instruction declined from 2002 to 2005, and increased in 2006, but the increases did not make up for earlier reductions.
  • Private universities have increased spending through tuition and endowment increases. Total educational spending per student increased by 10 percent at $33,000, while spending at public universities remained stagnant and totaled less than $14,000 per year.

Read the report here.

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By Debbie Frankle Cochrane, Program Director

California is at the brink. Yesterday Governor Schwarzenegger stated that the state will "face insolvency within weeks." Come February, there simply won’t be enough money to pay the bills. Earlier this morning the California state controller released his plan for keeping the state operating, which includes painful measures like delaying financial aid payments to college students, and withholding the payments that the disabled, the elderly, the blind, and the very poor depend on.

These delays – right now for 30 days but contingent on a budget resolution – will have devastating effects for Californians. We’ve written before about how state budget delays gamble students' ability to go to college, and it’s getting hard to remember the times when the state has made good on its promise of college affordability in a timely way. But these delays take the gamble to a whole new level, putting Californians' futures, health, and lives in jeopardy.

It is not noble to adhere to rigid political ideologies when lives are in the balance. All sides need to compromise and resolve the budget crisis as soon as possible.

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The Obama transition Web site is sponsoring an online discussion on college costs — noting both the interest of many in the issue and the recent death of Claiborne Pell, who as a Democratic U.S. senator from Rhode Island led the fight to create the grant program named for him. Numerous comments deal both with policy alternatives and the personal situations of individuals trying to pay for college.

[via Inside Higher Ed]

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