In our last update, we told you how important it is that Congress fully fund Pell Grants and extend the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). Millions of students and families rely on these programs, and a recession is the worst possible time to cut grants and raise taxes for people struggling to pay for college. It looks like the message is starting to get through, but your elected representatives need to hear from you right now to keep things moving in the right direction.
On December 7, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to prevent millions of students' Pell Grants from being reduced or eliminated next year. Now it's up to the Senate to do the same. And the recent compromise tax framework would extend the AOTC, which will expire at the end of this month unless Congress extends it. A broad coalition of students, colleges, and higher education advocates is calling on Congress to support the students and families who depend on Pell Grants and the AOTC to keep college within reach. Your emails and phone calls are crucial to securing that support!
In addition to sending an email, please make a quick phone call to make sure they get the message! Use this online congressional directory or call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your senators and/or representative. Here's what to say: I'm calling to ask Senator/Representative [name] to support extending the American Opportunity Tax Credit and full funding for Pell Grants.
Last week we blogged about new data from the Department of Education that provide a more accurate picture of college completion and persistence than the most commonly used federal data on graduation rates. The new data are from a national survey that tracks six-year college persistence and graduation rates for students who began college in 2003-04, regardless of whether they enroll full- or part-time or whether they change schools. In contrast, annual graduation rate data look only at first-time, full-time students and only count completions at the first institution attended.
The new data correct for these limitations and confirm that full-time students and those who go to college soon after high school are much more likely to stay in and finish school. The data also show that students who started at for-profit colleges in 2003-04 were much less likely to persist and/or complete than those who started at other types of colleges.
As you make year-end decisions about charitable giving, please consider a tax-deductible donation to support our ongoing work to reduce the burden of student debt and increase college access and success. You can use our secure online system to donate by credit card either all at once, or as a monthly contribution. Thanks so much for your partnership and support.
Best wishes for 2011 and happy holidays from all of us at TICAS!
(This email was sent to the Project on Student Debt mailing list on December 13, 2010.)