New TICAS Work on Affordability and Repayment | What’s Next for HEA

New Fact Sheets Explore Student Loan Repayment Struggles
CDR: What is it Good For? Absolutely Something.
Higher Ed Experts Agree: California Needs More Targeted Financial Aid to Support College Affordability
PROSPER Act, U.S. House Bill to Overhaul Higher Education Act, Remains a Threat to Students
Final FY18 Omnibus Spending Bill Includes Meaningful Investment in the Pell Grant
President’s Budget Proposal Would Raise Student Loan Payments by More than $200 billion 
TICAS Recommendations to the Senate HELP Committee on Higher Education Act Reauthorization and College Accountability
HEA Reauthorization: Options for Streamlining and Improving Income-Driven Repayment for Federal Student Loans
​Update on Student Loan Relief for Mistreated Students 
Update on Accountability for Career Education Programs
TICAS Oakland Has Moved
 

New Fact Sheets Explore Student Loan Repayment Struggles

About seven million undergraduates each year rely on federal loans to enroll in and complete college, and while many find that student loans are an excellent investment in their future and are able to successfully repay their loans, others struggle to make payments, or make payments that do not keep up with accruing interest.

Two new fact sheets from TICAS use different datasets and measures to look at where student loan repayment challenges are particularly severe. One uses a nationally-representative longitudinal survey of students who began college in 2003-04 to find that 17 percent of students defaulted on their loans within 12 years, while the second uses College Scorecard data to explore the colleges where many borrowers are seeing their loan balances grow, rather than shrink, many years after leaving school.

Read the fact sheets:

Students at Greatest Risk of Loan Default
Colleges where Most Students Borrow and Few Repay
 

CDR: What is it Good For? Absolutely Something.

The cohort default rate (CDR) is critical for understanding the scope and scale of the most devastating repayment outcome a borrower can face: default. Through its use as an accountability metric for federal financial aid eligibility, it also plays a key role in preventing default by keeping schools focused on the rate at which their borrowers face that very worst outcome.

Our new two-page primer lays out value of this metric, suggests ways to strengthen both the metric and the accountability system in which it is used, and cautions against trading out the CDR for a different metric when serious questions about unintended consequences remain.

Read the two-pager


Higher Ed Experts Agree: California Needs More Targeted Financial Aid to Support College Affordability

There is resounding consensus that unaffordable college costs are holding students back, and experts agree that greater and more targeted investments in financial aid are needed to close inequities and help students from all backgrounds graduate from college. Our latest report, Unpacking California College Affordability: Experts Weigh in on Strengths, Challenges, and Implications, summarizes interviews with 22 higher education experts representing a broad array of experiences and perspectives, and documents clear agreement that college affordability challenges have a wide range of negative implications for California students, and low-income and underrepresented students in particular.

Read the report and press release
 

PROSPER Act, U.S. House Bill to Overhaul Higher Education Act, Remains a Threat to Students

Since passing out of committee in December, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce’s bill (PROSPER Act) to overhaul the Higher Education Act (HEA) remains a threat that could be brought to a full House vote as soon as June. TICAS has continued to highlight specific ways the bill’s proposed changes would make it both harder and costlier for students to earn a high-quality certificate or degree. We published a series of blog posts exploring how some of the bill’s major changes would impact student debt, and highlighted nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates of the bill’s effects.

Read the blog series
Read our statement on the CBO cost estimates
Read our February letter to Congress from 80+ organizations opposing the bill


Final FY18 Omnibus Spending Bill Includes Meaningful Investment in the Pell Grant

In a big win for Pell Grant advocates, the final fiscal year 2018 spending bill signed by the President rejected prior proposals to cut Pell Grant reserve funds, and provided an urgently needed increase to the maximum grant amount. Leading up to the final bill, TICAS worked to mobilize over 60 organizations to urge Appropriators to do exactly that. The $175 increase provided in the final bill takes the maximum award amount to $6,095 in the 2018-19 school year.

Read our statement on the March FY18 Omnibus Bill

 

President’s Budget Proposal Would Raise Student Loan Payments by More than $200 billion

In February, the President proposed a budget for fiscal year 2019 that would eliminate subsidized student loans, eliminate public service loan forgiveness, streamline income-driven repayment in a way that would increase costs for many borrowers, and rolls back restrictions on which programs and providers are eligible to receive Pell Grants without providing quality assurance measures to protect students from low quality programs. These massive cuts eclipse otherwise worthwhile ideas to modernize and improve federal aid processes. As the FY19 appropriations process gets underway, TICAS will continue to urge Congress to reject these cuts to student aid.

Read our statement on the President’s FY19 Budget


TICAS Recommendations to the Senate HELP Committee on Higher Education Act Reauthorization and College Accountability

In February, TICAS responded to two requests for input from the Senate HELP Committee on reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. We recommended that the committee always place students’ needs at the center of any policy reforms; reject proposals that would increase the burden of student debt for struggling borrowers; and safeguard proven protections for students and taxpayers.

We also responded to Sen. Alexander’s white paper on college accountability, arguing that meaningful accountability is not one-size-fits-all, does not skimp on consumer protections, or leave students and taxpayers on the hook. Specifically, we asserted that: the cohort default rate remains critical for reducing the most devastating repayment outcome a borrower can face; the 90-10 rule should be strengthened to minimize taxpayer risk and protect military-connected students and eliminating the gainful employment rule will lead to waste, fraud, and abuse at students’ and taxpayers’ expense.


HEA Reauthorization: Options for Streamlining and Improving Income-Driven Repayment for Federal Student Loans

Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) helps millions of borrowers stay on top of their federal student loans and avoid default by providing the assurance of manageable monthly payments tied to income and family size, and also provides a light at the end of the tunnel so that student loan payments do not last forever. However, the range of IDR plans available today - five of them, each with varying eligibility requirements, costs, and benefits - is confusing and contributes to under-enrollment among borrowers who may need IDR the most.

In a detailed discussion on plan design, tradeoffs, and implications, TICAS hosted a panel last month on ways to streamline and improve IDR that featured diverse viewpoints from policy experts.

Watch the archived stream of the panel


Update on Student Loan Relief for Mistreated Students

In February, the Department of Education concluded three months of negotiated rulemaking to rewrite the borrower defense rule. Representatives from the student, veteran and servicemember, legal aid, and consumer constituencies, as well as members of the public, urged the Department to write a strong, fair rule that protects students and borrowers.

As a reminder, the 2016 rule, if implemented and enforced, would have helped ensure that students who were mistreated by institutions receive the loan relief they are entitled to under the law. It also would have made it harder for schools that commit widespread misconduct to hide it. However, the Department delayed the rule from going into effect this year. Nineteen states have filed suit over the delay, and over 50 organizations have called for the 2016 rule to be implemented immediately.

Relatedly, only a fraction of the thousands of pending borrower defense claims and many of those with approved applications are receiving only a portion of their debt discharged. Our partners at the Harvard Legal Services Center Project on Predatory Student Lending have engaged in ongoing litigation over this issue, with the judge set to make a decision by June 4, 2018.


Update on Accountability for Career Education Programs

In March, the Department of Education concluded three months of negotiated rulemaking to rewrite the gainful employment rule. Several negotiators and members of the public urged the Department to retain and enforce the current rule and standards. The current gainful employment rule is designed to ensure that career college program graduates leave school with manageable debts. However, the Department is not enforcing the rule, leading 18 states to file suit. 


TICAS Oakland Has Moved

Just a quick note that TICAS’ Oakland office moved at the beginning of April. Our new mailing address is:

The Institute for College Access & Success
1212 Broadway, Suite 1100
Oakland, CA 94612

Our main phone number (510.318.7900) remains unchanged, and our DC office is likewise unaffected.