Our Commitment to Racial Equity

All of us at TICAS are appalled by the callous police killings of unarmed Black Americans. We know that Black lives matter, and we stand alongside all who work for racial justice.

We also know that it’s not enough to believe or say that Black lives matter; we have to dedicate ourselves to bringing about a society that recognizes that fact. The inspiring anti-racist actions across the country have renewed our passion for promoting social justice through our work and personal lives.

We devote our professional lives to closing disparities in college opportunity because college is an essential path to economic security and better lives. Yet a heavy reliance on student debt and inequitable funding of colleges serving students of color have compounded racial inequities. More than a decade after leaving school, most Black borrowers owe more than they borrowed due to interest and fees.

At the same time, education is only one part of the solution. Racial inequities were centuries in the making and are compounded by continued systemic racism. We recognize and embrace the need to listen to voices of people of color as we work toward greater empathy and understanding of people whose experiences are different from our own.

President Vetoes Bipartisan Resolution to Restore Strong Borrower Defense Rule

On the evening of Friday, May 29, on a day when the nation was overcome with grief for a man gone too soon and anger against racism and injustice in this country, President Trump quietly vetoed bipartisan legislation to protect students – many veterans – against illegal actions of their colleges.

On July 1, the Trump Administration plans to implement its plan to repeal the strong borrower defense rule and replace it with a watered-down version. Students cheated by their colleges will be required to repay 97 percent of the resulting debts. Meanwhile, unscrupulous colleges will face few or no consequences for illegal wrongdoing.

In the coming days, Congress will consider overriding President Trump’s veto in a last-ditch effort to protect students. The fight is uphill: while the bill passed Congress once before, now it needs the votes of two-thirds of Congress.

Read our statement

More than 80 Organizations Call on Congress to Invest in Pell During and After COVID-19

As lawmakers work on providing economic relief to American families amid the COVID-19 crisis and move forward with the FY21 appropriations process, it is critical that they invest in and protect the Pell Grant program – the nation’s cornerstone investment in higher education – to ensure students have the funds to pursue postsecondary education during this emergency and in its aftermath. Eighty-one organizations representing the voices of students and families, consumers, institutions, and civil rights groups wrote to urge Congress to significantly increase the purchasing power of the Pell Grant by doubling the maximum award. Additionally, as the FY21 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations process moves forward, the groups asked policymakers to commit to ensuring that the grant increases at least at the rate of inflation and to commit to keeping the Pell Grant surplus funds within the Pell Grant program to help secure the program’s long-term viability.

Read the letter

Statement on House Passage of HEROES Act

The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to devastate America’s colleges and universities, which face deep state budget cuts and the potential loss of significant tuition and other revenue as millions of students are considering their college plans for the coming year.

The HEROES Act, which passed the House of Representatives earlier this month, would help colleges and students survive the recession and drive the recovery. Of particular importance, the bill proposes $37 billion in relief to colleges — including $27 billion to states to shore up higher education spending — while also requiring states to do their part to ward off tuition hikes and help prevent a new explosion in student debt. The remaining $10 billion would go directly to public and nonprofit colleges and universities to cover coronavirus-related costs. States, colleges, students and advocates now wait for the Senate to act.

Read our statement

California May 2020-21 Budget Revisions Protects Cal Grants, Minimizes the Most Harmful Cuts to Financial Aid

California Governor Newsom’s revised state budget plan for 2020-21 confirms the devastating blow that the COVID-19 pandemic will deliver to California’s public colleges and universities absent federal investment. Yet by protecting the state Cal Grant program, and directing colleges to minimize impacts on programs and services for underrepresented students, Governor Newsom’s updated budget proposal makes clear that college affordability and opportunity remain priorities.

Read our statement

Coalitions Urge State Legislatures to Protect Students’ Financial Aid During COVID-19

A coalition of more than 20 organizations representing statewide student leadership, higher education advocacy, civil rights and social justice, and business and workforce in California sent a letter to state legislative leadership urging policymakers to make targeted reforms to protect students’ state financial aid through the COVID-19 pandemic. These recommendations will help ensure that the ongoing crisis does not jeopardize students’ ability to pay for college even more than the sharp economic downturn already has.

Read the letter

Eighteen Michigan organizations representing the voices of students and families, institutions, civil rights groups, business, and philanthropic organizations wrote to urge the Michigan legislature and governor to ensure that students continue to receive the financial aid necessary to successfully earn a higher education credential.

Read the letter

New Tools and Data on College Access, Affordability, and Success Available on College Insight

College Insight, a unique resource that provides user-friendly college profiles as well as detailed, research-level higher education data for over 12,000 U.S. colleges and universities and includes over 400 variables, was recently upgraded with new tools and features to bring higher education data to your fingertips.

Use College Spotlight to compare institutions to other institutions, state or the nation, or the Explore All Data tool to build custom tables from our giant library of variables. The newly launched advanced search function lets users compare multiple colleges, states, or types of schools, with pre-populated common searches to quickly get the information you need.

Want even more flexibility? Download our full dataset and codebook to make the data your own. Our new Topics feature allows users to learn more about top issues facing students and graduates in the U.S., including affordability, distance education, and completion.

Visit College Insight

Tell Policymakers How the Coronavirus has Affected You

COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of our lives, including higher education, and we want to hear from you. Have you been negatively affected by the coronavirus? What college affordability challenges are you facing? During this health crisis, what can policymakers be doing to help students and borrowers?

We want to hear your stories and share them with policymakers. Help us advocate for college access & success by sending your story here: Join the Conversation.

WATCH: CFPB Symposium on Student Loans During the COVID-19 Pandemic

TICAS external affairs and policy analyst Michele Streeter provided advice and guidance for borrowers seeking relief during the COVID-19 pandemic for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s symposium on student loans.

Watch here

TICAS in the News

  • Interest Rate on Federal College Loans Is About to Hit a Record Low | Ann Carrns, The New York Times
    “Jessica Thompson, associate vice president of the Institute for College Access & Success, said the low rates were a ‘silver lining’ during the current economic turmoil. Students, however, may be wondering whether it is worth borrowing to attend college if classes this fall are all or mostly online. Some colleges are considering switching primarily to remote learning for the semester because of the coronavirus. While acknowledging the uncertainty, Ms. Thompson urged students to take a long-term view when considering their college education. If borrowing for college was part of their plan to begin with, she said, it’s very worth thinking about staying with their plan.’”
  • President Trump has a choice to make about overturning Obama-era student loan rule |Aarthi Swaminathan, Yahoo Finance
    “Since then, amid the coronavirus pandemic, both Congress and the Education Department created policies to provide much-needed relief to the 44 million Americans holding student loan debt. As things stand, ‘it’s very much an open question as to what he could do,’ Beth Stein, senior adviser at the Institute for College Access & Success, told Yahoo Finance, adding that she was ‘excited’ that the situation is moving.”
  • House Democrats’ relief bill sets aside $37B for higher ed | Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, Education Dive
    “Still, structuring the aid this way would mean states couldn’t turn to higher ed for cuts as they did in previous periods of economic contraction, said James Kvaal, president of The Institute for College Access & Success. His organization supports funneling the funding through states. ‘The money otherwise never gets put back when the economy comes back, and that’s the single biggest factor in driving up tuition in public schools,’ Kvaal said.”
  • The New Graduate’s Guide to Finding a Job, Paying Off Loans, and Saving Money in the Age of Coronavirus | Julia Glum, Kaitlin Mulhere, and Kenadi Silcox, MONEY
    “Roughly two-thirds of bachelor’s degree recipients have debt when they graduate, with a typical balance of about $30,000, according to The Institute for College Access and Success. It’s a burden that’s associated with plummeting net worth, delayed home ownership, and lower levels of financial security.”