In the News: Battle Lines Drawn on a Student Loan Alternative

June 13, 2019

By: Andrew Kreighbaum

Inside Higher Ed

Senator Elizabeth Warren and other congressional Democrats delivered a warning on Tuesday about the potential dangers of income-share agreements, an alternative form of college financing increasingly popular with some critics of student loans. The lawmakers’ primary target was the Trump administration — which has expressed interest in experimenting with the agreements — but the shot across the bow also aimed at colleges operating their own ISA plans.

Income-share agreements offer students financial support up front and in exchange require them to repay a portion of their income for a set number of years. They first caught on at coding boot camps and similar programs that don’t receive federal student aid. But a handful of four-year colleges have begun offering their own ISA plans and, last month, the Trump administration said it planned to pursue a federal experiment to offer income-share agreements to students.

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https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2019/06/05/democrats-take-aim-student-loan-alternative-and-colleges-offer-income-share

 

In The News: At HBCUs, crushing student loan debt is a symptom of even bigger problems

June 11, 2019

By Dartunorro Clark

MSNBC News

When Michael Sorrell became president of Paul Quinn College 12 years ago, he assessed the dire situation his school was in and made a bold choice: No more football.

“I mean, we’re in Texas. We’re an HBCU in Texas,” Sorrell said. “I got a little flak for that, OK?”

But to him, eliminating the program was the only way the historically black college in Dallas, which was founded in 1872 by a group of preachers from the African Methodist Episcopal Church to educate freed slaves and their children, could get back on track.

Football had cost the school roughly $600,000 to $1 million a year, he said, and scholarships went mainly to the players. Meanwhile, other students struggled, faculty and staff members were leaving, and buildings had fallen into disrepair.

“We were roughly 18 months to 24 months away from closing. We had financial problems. We had academic problems. We had morale problems, and it was the prototypical scenario for an institution that had been struggling for a long time and the end of the road was coming,” he told NBC News in a phone interview.

The challenges Paul Quinn College faced are not unique, experts said, even if its solution was one of a kind.

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https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/hbcus-crushing-student-loan-debt-symptom-even-bigger-problems-n1014171

 

In the News: Education company Chegg is helping pay down its employees’ student loan debt. ‘They are creating value for us’

June 7, 2019

— CNBC’s Annie Nova contributed to this report.

https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2019/06/06/chegg-is-helping-pay-down-its-employees-student-loan-debt.html

Chegg has a new plan to help its employees deal with their student loans.

And its CEO wants other companies to follow Chegg’s lead.

The student-connected learning platform announced a new program Thursday that will give its entry- through manager-level workers up to $5,000 a year, if they have been with the company at least two years. Director- or vice president-level employees can get up to $3,000 annually to help pay down their student loan debt.

“Corporations need to play a role here,” Chegg CEO Dan Rosensweig told CNBC’s “Closing Bell” on Thursday.

“We are the beneficiaries of those people who have gotten an education — doesn’t matter if it is four year or two year or even if they completed it,” he added. “If they borrowed money and they are creating value for us, we want to help them.”

Student loan debt has hit record levels, with borrowers owing a total of $1.5 trillion. About 7 in 10 college graduates have education debt.

“We are taking our most vulnerable, least financially stable and we’re creating a burden on them that is unsustainable.” -Dan Rosensweig, Chegg CEO

Many also are unable to find ways to pay their bills. More than 1 million borrowers go into default each year. By 2023, its projected that 40% of borrowers may default on their student loans.

Chegg’s latest benefit is in addition to the $1,000 cash that its employees with student debt already receive each year. To pay for the program, called Equity for Education, Chegg created an equity pool from its existing stock.

“We’ve got a mess and it’s probably the biggest economic crisis facing this country. And we don’t deal enough with it,” Rosensweig said.

The Santa Clara, California-based company certainly isn’t the only business helping workers with some sort of student loan debt assistance.

Student loan debt

Getty Images

Last year, Fidelity began to offer companies a way to contribute to their employees’ education debt with its Student Debt Employer Contribution program. It now has more than 65 companies that are offering, or in the process of offering, the benefit.

“A growing number of companies are increasingly aware that helping their employees take on the issue of student debt can help improve their overall financial wellness, which can in turn have a positive impact from a business perspective in a host of ways,” said Asha Srikantiah, head of Fidelity’s Student Debt Employer Contribution.

In fact, Fidelity has already seen an improvement in attracting and keeping top talent since it started offering the program to its own employees in 2016.

“For eligible Fidelity employees from 2016-2018, we’ve seen an approximate 75% reduction in turnover in the first year of program participation,” Srikantiah said. “And, according to a recent internal survey, it’s among the top two reasons people decided to join Fidelity.”

Still, the companies that offer this type of benefit remain the minority. About 4% did so in 2018, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

Chegg’s CEO said his company thought long and hard about how to come up with a program that other companies can copy.

“We wanted to see if we could set an example and create a dialogue,” Rosensweig said.

He’s also hoping the government and colleges take notice of Chegg’s plan and do their part to help with the crisis.

“We are taking our most vulnerable, least financially stable and we’re creating a burden on them that is unsustainable,” Rosensweig said.

 

In The News: The average millennial has a net worth of $8,000. That’s far less than previous generations.

June 5, 2019
By Abha Bhattarai for Washington Post

Millennials are doing far worse financially than generations before them, with student loans, rising rents and higher health-care costs pushing the average net worth below $8,000, a new study shows.

The net worth of Americans aged 18 to 35 has dropped 34 percent since 1996, according to research released Thursday by Deloitte, the accounting and professional services giant. This demographic is paying more for education and such basics as food and transportation while incomes have largely flatlined.

“The vast majority of consumers are under tremendous financial pressure,” said Kasey M. Lobaugh, Deloitte’s chief retail innovation officer and lead author of the study. “That is particularly true for low-income Americans and millennials.”

The growing gap between the nation’s wealthiest residents and everybody else, he said, is affecting the way consumers spend…

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/05/31/millennials-have-an-average-net-worth-thats-significantly-less-than-previous-generations/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.269c9363005d

They’re lawyers, scientists and health care professionals. They’re also still struggling to pay off their student loans

June 3, 2019

(CNN)You’ve might have heard the statistic. As many as 45 million Americans have student loan debt — amounting to about $1.49 trillion total.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has proposed eliminating the student loan debts of tens of millions of Americans, which her campaign says would be financed by a proposed wealth tax. She’s been promoting her plan by encouraging people to share their experiences on Twitter with the hashtag #CancelMyDebt.
CNN reached out to some of these people, and they all agreed on one thing. They’re tired of others telling them they should have made better decisions, because they think the current system has set them up to fail. Here’s what they said…
Click link below to read more:

https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/01/us/student-loan-debt-stories-trnd/index.html?no-st=1559569860

 

In The News: 4 Years of College, $0 in Debt: How Some Countries Make Higher Education Affordable

May 30, 2019

Lara Takenaga

By Lara Takenaga Written for the New York Times

Morehouse College’s 2019 graduates don’t have to worry about crushing student debt, since the billionaire investor Robert F. Smith pledged last week to pay it all off. Neither do graduates of colleges in countries that offer affordable tuition and generous stipends.

As young adults wrestle with student debt in the United States, where it has reached $1.5 trillion, many recent graduates in some countries are debt free.

When we asked people around the world what they paid for their higher education and how they financed it, we received nearly 800 responses from more than 40 countries.

Below is a selection of the responses, which show how government policies can shape the personal and professional choices that young adults make as they begin their careers. The responses have been edited and condensed.


Denmark is among the countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that spend the most on postsecondary education, at 1.6 percent of its gross domestic product. (The United States allocates 0.9 percent of its G.D.P.)

I attended the Technical University of Denmark from 2008 to 2013. All university is paid for by taxes. Books are maybe $500 per semester — lower than when I studied in the United States, but still a big expense.

Students who don’t live with their parents get a monthly stipend from the government of about $900 for living costs. Some people get more (if you have a child, for example). If you become pregnant during university, you get a year of parental leave, and you continue receiving the stipend. The stipend goes for up to six years (one year more than a typical bachelor’s and master’s degree). You can work part time up to a certain limit and still keep the stipend, but if you work too much and earn too much money, you have to pay back the stipend.

When we study abroad, we get to bring the tuition with us, and we apply for scholarships to pay other expenses like visas and plane tickets. I studied in Oregon for six months in 2011 and didn’t spend any of my own money.


An increased emphasis on higher education attainment has led to 45 percent of Taiwan’s population aged 15 and older earning a technical college or university degree, a 10 percent increase over the last decade, according to the Taiwanese government.

I graduated from National Taiwan University in 2012 with two majors. My tuition was about $375 per semester. The amount was just a fraction of my parents’ monthly salary, so they helped pay.

Because I didn’t go into debt for college (who should, anyway?), I didn’t feel pressure to get a job immediately or feel the need for a high-paying one. Salary wasn’t my concern; I could do whatever I wanted for my career.

— Hung-Yu Juan. Undergraduate tuition: $3,000. Loans: $0.


Government grants help undergraduate students pay for living costs and education fees in Ireland. Some students have protested the contribution fees of 3,000 euros ($3,360) a year, calling for a publicly funded education system like those elsewhere in Europe.

The government subsidizes undergraduate college education for European Union citizens, so technically my college degree was free. However, you’re required to pay a student contribution to your university, which works out to €3,000 annually, so I paid €12,000 for my degree.

I was extremely fortunate that my parents had put aside college money since I was born, so they covered my tuition, from 2015 to 2019. They also paid for my rent and groceries. I worked throughout my degree to supplement additional costs.

Because the cost of living in Dublin is super high, I was lucky to live in an accommodation that was pretty cheap, albeit gross. Because my parents paid for my degree, its cost did not affect my day-to-day life, but I definitely lived frugally.

— Grace Browne. Undergraduate tuition: €12,000. Loans: $0.


The Labour Party, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, initiated a policy in 2018 that eliminates fees for postsecondary students’ first year. The policy is scheduled to extend to three years by 2024.

I’m in my third year of a six-year undergraduate medical degree at the University of Otago in Dunedin. My first year cost 7,000 New Zealand dollars ($4,600) and subsequent years cost 15,000 N.Z.D. Our government offers loans to all citizens, and residents who have been here more than three years. These loans cover full tuition (and they subsidize the rest of our fees, which, for medicine, are upward of 75,000 N.Z.D. a year). Students are also eligible for an additional loan or an allowance for living costs.

After graduation you pay 12 percent on what you earn above 19,760 N.Z.D. (for me, on a base junior doctor’s salary of 56,000 N.Z.D. a year, I would repay about 4,500 N.Z.D. a year).

As a student doing one of the longest, most expensive degrees and living away from home, my loan will be about 140,000 N.Z.D. when I graduate. However, our government administers our loans, and we don’t get charged interest (unless you leave the country for more than a year), so I have never felt like I’m being crushed by it.

— Hannah Lochore. Undergraduate tuition: 82,000 N.Z.D. Loans: 140,000 N.Z.D.


In Brazil, postsecondary education attainment increased to 17 percent of young adults in 2015 from 10 percent in 2010, according to the O.E.C.D. This is still one of the lowest rates among O.E.C.D. countries. Access to free public universities is extremely competitive, and the demand far exceeds the number of available spots.

I graduated in 2013, and my college education cost about 100,000 Brazilian real ($25,000) for a full-time degree in economics.

I studied at a private college through a scholarship program funded by the federal government called Prouni (basically meaning “university for all” in Portuguese). This program was developed to help students from poor families have access to university; once selected, you have to prove that your family’s income fits the criteria. The students are selected through a national exam that we take after high school.

Even though there was no tuition, I had to move from the countryside to a city and support myself there. I attended a very expensive college, so I also had to deal with social differences because most of the students were from upper-middle-class households.

— Bruno Henrique Ferreira Paulino. Undergraduate tuition: 100,000 Brazilian real. Loans: $0.


In 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, which provides free tuition to state and local universities and colleges, as well as state-run vocational schools.

I studied at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, a top institution in my country. For my first years, 2014 to 2016, the fees were based on my family’s socioeconomic status. The base fees were about $600 per semester. We were middle class and got a discount of 60 percent, so we paid about $240.

After 2017, because my university is a public one, I enjoyed the benefits of tuition exemption.

The costs affected my career a little. My practicum, the last requirement for my degree in nutrition, was the most expensive, about $1,400. My parents had a hard time attaining this. I will take the exam to be a nutritionist and dietitian in August.

— Kiolo L. Belsonda. Undergraduate tuition: $1,440. Loans: $0.


The Student Awards Agency Scotland, a government entity, covers the full fees of eligible Scottish and E.U. nationals who apply; the payments are sent directly to the college or university. To qualify, students must have chosen a course that is funded by the agency and meet certain residency criteria. The Scottish government also sets the tuition rate for these students. For the 2019-20 academic year, tuition is as high as 1,820 British pounds ($2,300), depending on the program.

I’m a European citizen, so my undergraduate tuition at the University of St. Andrews, from 2012 to 2016, was paid by the Scottish government. My parents paid for my accommodation during those years, and I worked part time to fund all other expenses.

Now, my integrated master’s and doctoral degree is funded through the United Kingdom-based Economic and Social Research Council, Scottish Graduate School of Social Science. This covers tuition and a stipend of about £1,200 a month, which I supplement with part-time teaching and research assistant work at the university, as well as a part-time job in a cafe.

Because university was essentially free for me, I had a lot more freedom to pursue my interests, including further education and academic work.

— Olga Loza. Undergraduate tuition: £7,280. Loans: $0.


The share of Turkey’s population aged 25 and older that had earned a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent increased to 14.8 percent in 2016 from 7.3 percent in 2004, according to the Unesco Institute for Statistics. (In the United States, one-third of adults in 2015 had a bachelor’s degree or more education, according to the United States Census Bureau.)

I attended Bilkent University in Ankara from 2006 to 2012 and didn’t pay for my undergraduate legal education. This was possible due to Turkey’s university entrance exam system. By ranking among the top 100 of more than 1.5 million exam takers, I attended a private university for free.

Both state and private institutions are among the best-ranking universities in Turkey. State universities are usually free or have minimal tuition. To compete with state universities, private institutions offer tuition-free quotas.

The government offers stipends to help cover living expenses. Based on the recipient’s income level, these monthly payments are either loans or grants. Exam takers who rank in the top 100 in different score categories receive three times this monthly amount regardless of their income level. This was how I covered my living expenses without burdening my parents.

Going into law without any cost gave me the opportunity to attain higher middle-class income levels despite my parents’ low- to middle-class income level.

— Mustafa Cetin. Undergraduate tuition: 225,000 Turkish lira ($37,000). Loans: $0.


For the 2017-18 academic year, the average cost of undergraduate tuition for Canadian full-time students was about 6,500 Canadian dollars ($4,800), according to Statistics Canada, a government agency. In 2010, the most recent year with available data, half of all students who earned a bachelor’s graduated with debt; the average was 26,300 Canadian dollars. (In 2018, people in the United States with outstanding education debt typically owed between $20,000 and $25,000.)

The cost of my bachelor’s degree from McGill University was about 6,000 Canadian dollars per year for four years, plus books, student fees and living expenses. In total, it was about 50,000 Canadian dollars for all four years.

My parents and I had saved up for the cost of all school expenses. I worked during the summers to be able to pay for living expenses, and my parents helped me where they could so that I could focus on my studies without taking a part-time job during the school year. Because of the reasonable cost of the education, my parents’ forward-thinking approach and my decisions to work during the summer, I did not experience any financial hardships and I graduated without student debt.

Graduating debt free allowed me freedom of opportunity and choice to find my own path and try out different jobs, including working abroad. I was also able to find the right fit and industry, and to walk away from companies and bosses who treat employees unfairly.

— Casey Reynolds. Undergraduate tuition: 24,000 Canadian dollars. Loans: $0.