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White House launches new College Scorecard

On Saturday, the White House released the Department of Education's new College Scorecard. Designed to give students and families more information on outcomes, it includes institution-specific data such as earnings 10 years after enrolling and loan repayment data.

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News Flash: Washington’s GET Glitch

Since 1992, Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program has sold future college credits at prevailing tuition rates with the promise that the GET credits would hold their value until a child is ready to go to college. GET has given savvy parents a more affordable way to pay for tuition for their children’s college tuition well in advance of their freshman year. However, the state’s recent decision to cut tuition by 5 to 20 percent at state institutions has thrown a wrench in the program, and parents who thought they were securing their children’s future are now seeing the value of their units fall.

“Account-holders who purchased GET units at that price, and plan to use their units in the next 6 to 8 years, may never recover all of their initial purchase price, GET staffers say.”

On Tuesday, the Committee for Advanced Tuition Payment, more often referred to as the GET Committee , voted to refund account-holders $20 per unit, freeze the value of GET units at $117 for the next two years, and stop lump-sum sales until 2017. Although the committee did consider giving account-holders the opportunity to withdraw all of their money without penalty, ultimately they decided to delay a final decision until more is known about the state budget, given the state Supreme Court’s recent decision to fine lawmakers $100,000 a day until K-12 education is adequately funded, per its earlier McCleary decision.

The committee’s next meeting is September 1.

Via Katherine Long, Seattle Times. Read more.

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WA Budget Roundup: Higher Education Gets a Much-Needed Boost with Tuition Cuts

Let's start with the good news

The Washington State Legislature just passed a historic budget that’s already making national headlines for cutting tuition at all of our state’s public institutions for the first time in decades.

Late Tuesday night, the Governor signed a compromise budget proposal which includes tuition decreases over two years of 15% at the research universities; 20% at the regional universities; and 5% at community and technical colleges. This reverses a decades-long trend of tuition increases year after year, with only limited relief in some years from tuition freezes.

Washington Tuition at Public Colleges and Universities (1998-2017)

tuition_changes.png 

Source: WA LEAP and State of Working Washington

There were four major moving pieces at play in the higher education budget negotiations:

  • tuition levels, which have risen steadily over the last three decades, and steeply since the recession;
  • the State Need Grant (SNG), the state’s largest financial aid program for low-income students, which under current funding, serves only about 70% of the over 100,000 eligible students;
  • the College Bound Scholarship (CBS), a need- and merit-based financial aid program offered to low-income students in middle school; and
  • the Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS), a scholarship for low- and middle-income students to promote graduation in STEM and healthcare fields, state funding for which is matched by private donations of up to $50 million per year.

The final budget provides $113 million for tuition cuts and $41 million for the Opportunity Scholarship, with no increases for the State Need Grant or College Bound Scholarship. The two sides also battled over higher ed compensation increases, ultimately settling on a $110 million expenditure for that purpose.

The not-so-good news

The House originally proposed tuition freezes, in lieu of tuition cuts, in order to free up more money for the State Need Grant, but Senate budget negotiators won that battle – in the end actually succeeding in decreasing funding for financial aid, commensurate with lower tuition levels. Decreasing tuition is a good first step toward expanding access to college – and that’s the goal – but the importance of financial aid to low-income students can’t be overstated, and it will have to be addressed in future budgets.

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Who Should Pay for Higher Education in Massachusetts?

In 2013, UMass agreed with the Massachusetts state legislature to freeze tuition so long as the state provided adequate higher education funding. Just two years later, the state hasn’t held up its end of the deal and UMass has had to increase tuition. In fact, tuition at UMass has increased $3,313 since the start of the recession, and state funding per student in Massachusetts has fallen 23%.

As Evan Horowitz of the Boston Globe points out, this is not a problem unique to Massachusetts.

“All over the country, you see the same pattern. State support for public education is going down, and the shortfall is being made via rising tuition — which also means mounting student debt.”

 tuition.PNG

SourceHigher Education Finance Commission

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Demos: "Dramatic" decline in state funding to blame for tuition hikes

A new report out from Demos today confirms what students and their families have been experiencing for some time:  state disinvestment in higher education is the main reason for tuition increases over the last decade or so.

During the 2001 to 2011 time period, state funding per student fell $3,081 at research universities and $2,067 at nonresearch universities, a decline that was “in near lockstep with tuition increases,” according to the report. The result is a “dramatic shift” in who is paying for the cost of a public education.

The Causes of Rising Tuition

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What more do you want from students who do the right thing but still come up short?

That was the question Lamar Wise and other Pay It Forward supporters had for the Oregon Legislature on Friday, when Oregon's House Committee on Higher Education, Innovation, and Workforce Development heard House Bill 2662, which would implement Oregon's proposed Pay It Forward pilot.

Speaking on behalf of himself and other students at his high school, Max Neel, a sophomore at Rex Putnam High School in Milwaukie, Ore., laid out the need for Pay It Forward clearly to the committee, saying:

“We don’t just want it. We need it. If Oregon has no plans to start helping its younger people pursue a degree, as it has in the past, then it should at least give us the means to take on the responsibility in a reasonable manner, not by dumping a bunch of debt on our families and burying our future in loans that we’ll probably just end up unable to pay anyway. The Pay It Forward pilot is that sort of plan. . . . It’s time that the government of this state start taking its future, me and my fellow students, as seriously as it’s always claimed to.”

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More Proposed Cuts to Higher Education Across the Country

In a country where skyrocketing tuition has caused student debt to soar above every other debt category except for mortgage debt, governors across the nation are proposing huge cuts to higher education.

This week, Illinois governor joined his counterparts in Louisiana and Wisconsin in proposing hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to higher ed. 

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Student Loan Delinquencies on the Rise

In more troubling news for student loan borrowers, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported today that student loan delinquencies were up in the final months of 2014. 

“Although we’ve seen an overall improvement in delinquency rates since the Great Recession, the increasing trend in student-loan balances and delinquencies is concerning,” Donghoon Lee, research officer at the New York Fed, said in an e-mailed statement. “Student-loan delinquencies and repayment problems appear to be reducing borrowers’ ability to form their own households.

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New Jersey creates Pay It Forward task force

New Jersey will create a task force to study how to make college more affordable for the state's students under a law signed Thursday.

The commission will study a "Pay It Forward Pilot Program," in which public college and universities could waive tuition and fees in favor of taking a percentage of students' future earnings. It will also study several other ways to reduce college costs, including an accelerated program for high school students interested in pursuing a career in medicine.

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Washington State PTA puts higher ed (and Pay It Forward!) on its list of Top 5 priorities for the 2015-16 biennium

Washington parents know that their kids’ education can’t stop after their senior year in high school. They also know that their children’s futures depend on their ability to get a college degree, the chances of which are dwindling each year that tuition goes up and the State Need Grant goes underfunded.

That’s why the Washington State PTA has made increased access to higher education one of its Top 5 Issues in the 2015-16 biennium. As part of its commitment to increasing college access, the PTA has pledged to support programs like Pay It Forward, State Need Grant, and the College Bound Scholarship.

"WA State PTA members cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and watch college tuition continue to skyrocket. We need to speak up now to insure continuing access to a post-secondary education for all children and advocate for a menu of potential policy solutions that include programs such as Pay It Forward and fully funding College Bound and State Need Grants."

We couldn’t agree more.

Read more about the Washington State PTA’s commitment to Increased Access to Higher Education on its Issue Guide.

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