Crucial Senate Vote this Week, Program Updates

Crucial Vote this Week! Tell Senate Don't Slash Pell Grants or Block Gainful Employment Rule

This week, the Senate is the key battleground in the fight to preserve Pell Grants and protect students and taxpayers from rip-off career education programs. Before this Friday, Congress must reach agreement on federal spending for the rest of the current year (fiscal year 2011) to avert a government shutdown.   The House has already voted to slash Pell Grants - reducing or eliminating needed aid for nearly 9 million students - and to block gainful employment, and a Senate bill to block gainful employment (S. 460) was introduced last month.

Tell your Senators to step up for students by preserving the maximum Pell Grant and stand up to special interests by supporting a strong gainful employment rule. Take action today!

Adding It All Up: An Early Look at Net Price Calculators

By the end of October, U.S. colleges must meet a federal requirement to create online "net price calculators." These calculators are intended to help prospective students and their families gauge college affordability, providing individualized estimates of what particular colleges will cost them after grants and scholarships. Our new issue brief takes an early look at how colleges are approaching this requirement and found mixed results for how easy the calculators are to find, use, and understand. It includes recommendations for colleges as they make decisions about their own calculators, and for the Department of Education.

Read our new issue brief

A Simpler FAFSA

Since the end of January, the 2011-12 FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) has let students and parents transfer their own tax information right into the online form!  It's a quick and easy process that's based on our core FAFSA simplification proposal, which the Department of Education piloted last year. If you filed your 2010 income taxes at least 10 days ago, the data should be available to view and transfer into your FAFSA. Early reports from the Department show the average FAFSA completion time at less than half an hour, down 25 percent from the year before.

Visit the FAFSA website

IBR Enrollment Numbers

We've learned that more than 230,000 federal student loan borrowers had successfully enrolled in Income-Based Repayment (IBR) by November 2010. IBR first became available in July 2009. It helps keep federal student loans manageable by capping payments based on the borrower's income and family size, and forgiving any remaining debt after 25 years (or after 10 years of public service). Many more borrowers could benefit from IBR if they knew about it and applied. Please take a moment to help spread the word and tell a friend about IBR!