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Trump Administration Proposes to Gut the Borrower Defense Rule

The Trump Administration has released its plan to rewrite of the borrower defense rule, and its message to students is clear: you’re on your own.

The rule would apply to students borrowing after July 1, 2019, and if finalized, would erect substantial new barriers to relief for students defrauded or otherwise abused by their colleges. The proposal fails to protect students against misconduct that is illegal under state law, and imposes new evidentiary burdens on harmed borrowers, so that very few will get the relief they are entitled to by law. Perversely, the Department’s primary proposal is to require desperate borrowers to intentionally default – with all its negative consequences – before even seeking relief, forcing them to gamble on an unsympathetic bureaucracy. Members of the public can comment on the proposal within 30 days of formal publication, and we will follow up with you soon with how you can help #DefendStudents.

Read our statement on the borrower defense rule

Aim Higher Act Takes Key Steps to Improve HEA, Reduce Student Debt

Last week, House Democrats on the Education and Workforce Committee made a major addition to the ongoing conversation about reauthorizing the Higher Education Act by unveiling the Aim Higher Act. The bill is in many ways a rebuke of the deep education cuts included in the PROSPER Act introduced by their counterparts on Committee last Fall but kept from advancing to the House floor thus far, thanks in no small part to your voices! While we will continue working with its sponsors to make it even stronger, the Aim Higher Act includes several key, student-centered provisions that would reduce the burden of student debt, and advances some of TICAS’ longstanding recommendations. 

Read our letter to Ranking Member Bobby Scott about the Aim Higher Act

Important Steps Forward on College Affordability in California Budget Agreement

Last month, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the 2018-19 state budget, which included several improvements to college affordability and financial aid. Important gains were made for students at the California Community Colleges (CCCs), with an increase in financial aid for full-time Cal Grant recipients and flexible funding for CCCs to provide more support to students whose financial struggles hold them back from graduating. Additionally, the budget agreement makes it easier for foster youth at both AA and BA granting colleges to get a Cal Grant, and strengthens institutional accountability for financial aid.

Read more about the details of the 2018-19 California budget agreement  

Federal Student Loan Interest Rates on the Rise

July 1 is an important date for students and families: it’s when most changes to federal student aid – both loans and grants – go into effect. For the year starting July 1, 2018, new federal loans for undergraduates, graduate students, and parents have higher fixed interest rates than loans taken out the year before, and the maximum Pell Grant is higher. To help inform college borrowing decisions, we have a new, easy-to-read chart with 2018-19 interest rates, loan amounts, and other useful information for the most common types of federal loans.

Read the fact sheet

Continued Push to Protect and Strengthen Pell

After a big win for Pell Grants in the final fiscal year 2018 spending deal, advocates are hopeful Congress will continue to protect and strengthen the grant in fiscal year 2019. In late June, TICAS sent a letter from 68 organizations to House and Senate Appropriators urging them to again keep all Pell Grant funds in the Pell program and increase the award amount to at least cover inflation. While the House’s draft spending bill would protect Pell funding, it would not increase the grant at all. The Senate's proposal, on the other hand, would increase the grant amount by a modest but meaningful $100, while also cutting $600 million in Pell Grant reserve funds. Congress is poised to reach a final agreement reconciling these differences by late summer.

Read our statement on the Senate’s education spending bill

House Budget Blueprint Attacks College Access and Affordability

In June, the House Budget Committee passed its fiscal year 2019 Budget Resolution, which once again proposes massive, long-term cuts to education funding, including $20 billion in cuts through a fast-track, filibuster proof reconciliation process. While this budget resolution is likely to have little direct impact on immediate funding decisions, it is a dangerous vision for reduced investment in higher education and, more troubling, echoes the deep cuts proposed in the PROSPER Act. Specifically, the budget resolution outlined a plan to slash Pell Grant funding by a massive $80 billion, and cuts to student loans that would force millions of student to borrow more at the same time as making those loans more expensive.

Read our statement on the House budget resolution 

Help Us Make College InSight Better, Win an Amazon gift card!

We've got big updates in the works for our higher education data website, College InSight, and we want your feedback! College InSight makes it possible to explore data on college affordability, student debt, economic and racial diversity, and student success, and we want to hear how you currently use the website and how it could better serve your data needs. Our short survey takes less than 10 minutes, and you can enter for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card! Complete the survey by Friday, August 3rd to be entered into the drawing. 

Take the survey

TICAS in the News

  • DeVos to Eliminate Rules Aimed at Abuses by For-Profit Colleges |The New York Times
    “It took nearly a decade of rulemaking, litigation and public debate to write a gainful employment rule that protects hundreds of thousands of students from unaffordable debt,” said James Kvaal, the president of the Institute for College Access & Success, who helped draft the rules as an Obama administration official. “Now the Trump administration may just scrap these essential student protections. The evidence is in, and the gainful employment rule has helped students find better choices and forced colleges to improve the value of their career education programs.
  • Trump administration plans to scrap rule meant to limit abuses at for-profit colleges |The Washington Post
    James Kvaal, president of the Institute for College Access & Success, who served in the Obama White House and Education Department, said he was surprised that the Trump administration would rescind the rule entirely. “We thought they would maintain at least some kind of minimum standard,” he said.
  • Just Out of College? Now Is the Time to Take Stock of Your Finances |The New York Times
    Most federal student loans come with a grace period after graduation — typically, six months — during which borrowers don’t have to make loan payments. So use this time to make sure you have a repayment plan you can afford, said Diane Cheng, associate research director at the Institute for College Access & Success.
  • Congress needs to lift restrictions on collecting college student data |Op-Ed, James Kvaal and Alison Griffin, The Washington Post
    The need for good information is increasingly urgent. Colleges and universities produce a wide range of employment and graduation outcomes with an equally wide-ranging price tag. Against that backdrop, the importance of understanding key measures like graduation rates and the economic returns on educational investments is more important than ever.