New Law Improves the Student Loan Repayment Process: What Borrowers Need to Know

President Trump today signed into law the FUTURE Act, an important piece of bipartisan legislation that invests in colleges serving students of color and includes important changes that will make it easier for students and families to apply for federal financial aid.

The bill also makes key improvements for student loan borrowers by making it simpler to access and remain in income-driven repayment plans for federal student loans.

Click here for more info on what this law might mean for you if you’re repaying federal student loans.

Praise for House and Senate Passage the Amended FUTURE Act

We applaud the House and Senate for advancing a bipartisan measure to provide critical permanent funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority-Serving Institutions, make it easier for borrowers to access affordable student loan repayment options, and simplify the FAFSA. We appreciate the work of leaders in both the Senate and House for their efforts to advance this important legislation.

This bill is a hard-fought victory for millions of students and families, and it highlights the importance of continued bipartisan work to improve the higher education system. But it’s not enough. New investments and greater accountability are needed to protect students from unaffordable debts and close college opportunity gaps. We urge policymakers to continue their efforts to advance a bipartisan, comprehensive Higher Education Act reauthorization that makes significant new investments in college affordability and protects students and taxpayers from low-quality institutions.

Read our statements on the House and Senate passage of the amended Future Act
Click here to read TICAS president James Kvaal’s Forbes op-ed on the FUTURE Act

Takeaways from New Program-Level Data on the College Scorecard

Last month, the Department of Education unveiled a new, more user-friendly version of its College Scorecard website, which is an important consumer resource that provides reliable, nationally comparable information about college costs and student earnings and other outcomes. Alongside improvements to the website’s user interface, the Scorecard now makes earnings by program widely available for the first time. These data are important because future earnings can vary more from program to program than from college to college. The Department also finalized the program-level student debt data released provisionally earlier this year.

The release of these data and their integration on the consumer website marks a milestone in over six years of work across two administrations to provide students with more granular information about college outcomes. And while the data come with some noteworthy limitations, their availability is an important step forward in allowing practitioners, researchers, and policymakers to examine federal student debt and earnings for individual programs and credential levels.

Read our latest blog post with key takeaways from an analysis of the new data.

From Eight Plans to Two: How the College Affordability Act Improves Student Loan Repayment

Like other proposals before it, the College Affordability Act (CAA) – House Democrats’ comprehensive proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act – makes major progress in improving the federal student loan repayment system. TICAS has long recommended simplifying the student loan system by reducing the number of repayment plans and making payments more affordable for struggling borrowers.

In this blog post, we outline the major components of the new repayment system under the CAA, which is a strong starting point for much-needed reform. We’ve also added the College Affordability Act to our summary table outlining keys features of major proposals to reform income-driven repayment.

Read the blog

A Heartfelt Thank You from TICAS

Earlier this month we reached out to you for a day of giving, and today we are giving thanks. Because of supporters like YOU, we had the best #GivingTuesday ever, and we are so grateful. Your gifts support our work to advance affordability, accountability, and equity in higher education, and you made a real difference for students and borrowers. Thank you!

And if you missed it, there’s still time to include TICAS in your 2019 charitable giving. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation to TICAS this holiday season.

TICAS in the News

  • “Cuts Averted in Budget Deal” | Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed
    “While a $150 increase to the maximum award is certainly welcome, we continue to encourage policymakers to make significant new investments in the Pell Grant program,” [said TICAS director of policy and planning Jessica Thompson], “including restoring an automatic annual inflation adjustment so that appropriators do not have to reach a political deal to plug that gap with limited funds.”
  • “Student loan borrowers could see big changes in 2020” | Annie Nova, CNBC
    “I think it’s a really constructive first step toward reauthorization,” said James Kvaal, president of the Institute for College Access & Success. “There’s a lot of potential common ground in the bill, particularly around student loan issues.”
  • “TICAS: Policymakers Should Change How Student Loan Defaults Are Measured | Joelle Fredman, NASFAA
    Author Lindsay Ahlman, TICAS’ associate director of knowledge and research management, argued policymakers should retain the CDR due to the fact that is a “reliable, well-established, and widely understood measure,” noting that holding institutions accountable for their CDRs “has a long track-record of effectively reducing the risk of student loan default.” Still, she wrote there are weaknesses to the measurement that policymakers must address as they work to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA).