Press Release/Statement | October 27, 2017

James Kvaal Named New President of the Institute for College Access & Success

Oakland (CA)—The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) announced today that James Kvaal has been selected as the organization’s new president. Kvaal has served in a number of senior policymaking roles, including deputy domestic policy adviser in the White House. He will assume his new role at TICAS on January 2, 2018.

“Since 2005, working nationally and in California, TICAS has been a leader in advocating for student-centered, evidence-driven, results-oriented policies to enable all Americans to afford college and graduate without burdensome debt,” said TICAS Board Chair Richard Kazis. “Students—particularly the most vulnerable and least financially secure—need bold, practical solutions, especially in this era of rising college costs and debt and significant challenges to consumer protections. James has deep policy knowledge and experience—and a passion to help more Americans succeed in college and pursue their dreams. That will drive successful strategies as TICAS moves into the next stage of its work and enhances its impact.”

Kvaal has worked on federal higher education policy for more than two decades at the White House, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate. In the Obama Administration, he led work to help more students graduate from college, invest in community colleges, allow students to repay loans as a share of income, and protect students and taxpayers from career colleges producing unaffordable debts. More recently, Kvaal founded the College Movement, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping many more students graduate from college and find jobs; he will continue to pursue this important goal and work at TICAS.

“TICAS is known across the political spectrum for its policymaking expertise, evidence-based approach, and commitment to putting students first,” Kvaal said.  “Rather than just issuing white papers, TICAS climbs into the trenches with policymakers and produces results. I am excited to lead this essential organization as it fights to ensure that college is more affordable, student loans are less burdensome, and college functions as the reliable path to upward mobility it has the potential to be.”

TICAS works with a broad range of partners and serves as an expert resource to the media, policymakers, and the public on issues ranging from the financial aid application process to student loan repayment. TICAS’ accomplishments include: championing changes that have made it much easier to apply for federal student aid; developing the model policy that resulted in the creation of income-driven repayment plans for federal student loans; leading a national coalition that secured greater regulation of federally funded career education programs; and leading analysis and advocacy in California that has increased college accountability and state need-based aid by over $100 million annually.

“I am thrilled to know that James Kvaal will be leading TICAS; he is the right person for this moment,” said Cecilia Muñoz, Vice President for Policy and Technology at New America and former Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.  “College is an essential pathway to the middle class, but too many students are undercut by daunting costs and debt burden and by low graduation rates.  If we are to bring about change, we will need creative and bold approaches by leaders who know how to turn ideas into action, and who never lose sight of what matters most. James has always put students and their interests first.  I am excited to see him lead TICAS into the future.”

Peter McPherson, President of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, added, “James is a great fit for TICAS: he is smart, easy to work with, and knows how to get things done in Washington.  James listens carefully and is not afraid to look for common ground to solve problems. He is well suited to work across the political spectrum to find creative solutions so that both students and taxpayers get the value they deserve from higher education.”