Massachusetts Updates:

Our legislators show that Higher Education is not a priority

Despite a year with a budgetary surplus of $1 billion in revenue, our politicians failed to give public colleges their much needed financial support. Research shows that decline in state aid is an important factor pushing tuition and fees up. Not surprisingly, University of Massachusetts announced a 2.5 percent for the 2018–2019 academic year. This is the 5th consecutive year of increases, culminating in an almost 20 percent hike! This is why the Hildreth Institute partnered with Inversant, FairShot Massachusetts, Chelsea Collaborative, and La Vida Scholars and organized a picket last week in direct protest of tuition hikes.

Dissatisfaction with Mount Ida’s closure continues

While former Mount Ida College president Barry Brown blames its shutdown on Lasell College’s for unexpectedly changing the terms of a potential merger,state officials grapple with critical questions about how colleges should shutdown possibilities and when regulators should step in. Meanwhile, the lives of hundreds of students have been disrupted by school’s chaotic closure and we hear rumors that they will pursue legal recourse against the school.

Other MA news:

In Maryland, lessons for UMass Boston

We’re too smart not to solve student debt

UMass students will see an average tuition increase of $351 this year

Mass. AG Gets $650,000 for Students of Closed For-Profit Education Co.

Commentary: To Help Students, And Themselves, Colleges Need To Cut Student Loans

National updates:

Students, you are on your own!

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has made it crystal clear: students, you are on your own. This month, she attacked two Obama era regulations that curtailed for-profit schools ability to mislead, prey, and profit off of students. Her newly proposed Borrower Defense rules, more accurately called Predatory School Defense Rules, make it almost impossible for defrauded students to seek debt relief, even in the case of sudden school closure (read more here). DeVos also signaled that she plans to repeal gainful employment regulations, which stopped the flow of student loans to for-profit schools if their graduates could not earn enough money to pay off their student debt. Without these regulations, predatory schools will be able to use the aggressive and deceptive recruitment practices that we witnessed before. These for-profit corporations will pocket students’ money while saddling them with loans that they will never be able to repay, and Betsy DeVos is removing legal protections for students against these injustices. The proposed borrower defense rules are now open for public comments for 30 days, this is the time to be loud and show that WE the people matter more than the lobbyists.

Some good news:

On a more positive note, Zero Debt proposals are quickly gaining popularity! Democrats have released their higher education bill, Aim Higher, countering Republicans’ PROSPER Act. The bill seeks to “ensure every student has a path to a debt-free degree or credential that leads to a rewarding career.” States are incentivized to reinvest in higher education in exchange for federal funding. The bill makes it simpler for borrowers to repay their debt while protecting and expanding the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program which the PROSPER Act would eliminate. Encouragingly, the bill includes measures to crack down on predatory for-profit institutions that target students and veterans with expensive, low-quality programs.

Laughing at our own misery!

Finally, a new satirical reality TV show, Paid Off, hosted by actor Michael Torpey seeks to expose what our debt-saddled youth are willing to do to pay off their student loans., Contestants have their debt incrementally paid off by answering trivia questions. While the host stops the game for some sobering reality checks with facts on student debt load, the losing contestant is instructed to go over to call their congressperson to raise awareness about the burden of student debt. Needless to say, the Hildreth Institute is a fan of promoting civic engagement around student debt! You can watch the show on Tuesday nights HERE.

Other National News:

Students aren’t the only ones crushed by school debt

Colleges ask for a share of future salary in lieu of loans

85 Colleges Kept Aid After DeVos Restored Accreditor

As feds pull back, states step in to regulate for-profit colleges and universities

Maryland Governor Announces Student Debt-Relief Initiatives

Debt-free college? House Democrats introduce higher education bill

New generation of candidates saddled with student debt — and not afraid to talk about it

Something Is Wrong When a Quiz Show Is Your Best Shot at Paying Off Student Debt