There has been a lot of talk about whether or not there is a crisis on the border. I will leave that debate to the politicians. However, there is no debate about whether or not America has a crisis hitting all 50 states and over 40 million people. This crisis is impacting millions of students pursuing their dreams of earning a college degree. The crisis is impacting millions of young people coming out of college, wanting to be fiscally responsible and save, and buy their first home. What is the crisis? It is America’s $1.56 trillion student loan debt.
Today, student loan debt is the second greatest source of individual debt, only behind mortgages, according to the Federal Reserve. Something must be done about the ever-rising student debt, and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is taking the issue of financial literacy with HBCU students head-on. Exposing the nearly 300,000 students we represent to the host of scholarship offerings is one of our main strategies for decreasing student loan dependence. TMCF understands that student loans disproportionately impact minority students – with the greatest negative impact on African-American students. We have to put just as much early attention on student loan debt by providing student scholarships, grants and wraparound services, so HBCU students can persist in their studies without dropping out because of finances. The more scholarships we can award, the fewer loans students are forced to take, so they graduate without the strain of insurmountable student loan debt.
As the wealth gap continues to grow we know that by 2053, the Net Worth of African-American families is projected to hit $0, so there is a clear urgency to educate and support organizations that have direct connections to young African American students that will be entering the workforce. TMCF is committed to empowering students attending HBCUs on how to secure and keep a good paying job and build a career into the C-Suite, or become entrepreneurs, save money and build wealth for the future in the hopes of being great global leaders that give back to future generations.
Additionally, we are teaching HBCU students to be better college consumers, moving career-focused programming to Freshmen and Sophomores, so they can choose college course strategically, in order to graduate in four years, while entering the talent pipeline earlier.
More than 80% of all HBCU students attend TMCF member-schools and 97% of those students rely on financial aid in their pursuit of a degree. Through our partnerships with many companies such as Wells Fargo, Boeing, Ally, and Apple we are providing scholarships, internships, corporate immersions, and innovation programs as well as good paying jobs.
For example, over the course of our partnership with Wells Fargo, they have provided more than $7.2 million in support of TMCF student scholarships and financial literacy curriculum development and announced a $1.1 million for the 2019-2020 academic year. In 2018, TMCF provided close to $10 million in direct aid for student scholarships, stipends, awards, wrap-around services, and institutional grants. Those are real dollars and for the majority of the students we serve, the dollars are transformational. This is important because according to aLendEDU study nearly three in 10 college students in America are solely responsible for paying for all of their higher education costs.
Finances should never be a barrier to graduation, nor should the financial impact of earning a college degree be a barrier for buying a home, saving money, starting a family, and having a good credit score. TMCF prides itself on building pipelines into good paying jobs but we also have to work to ensure that those students are able to truly reap the financial benefits of their achievements without having to pay off years of student loan debt.
Yes, the student loan situation is a crisis that must be addressed early and often with students, parents, family members, and guidance counselors. We need to make this an issue on the campaign trail on both sides of the aisle in every election, not just the 2020 presidential one. Roll Call recently reported that there are 66 members of Congress who are currently paying off their own personal student loans or debts for dependents. “Collectively, the 44 Democrats and 24 Republicans have higher education liabilities of $2.5 million, according to recent financial disclosures. The median student loan debt is $15,000, while average debt is $37,000.”
This is not a partisan issue and we will continue advocating for bipartisan solutions and effective student financial aid literacy opportunities especially for the Black College Community because we know they work. The student loan debt crisis can be corrected if we all work together to make sure our future innovators, government and corporate leaders can lead without the crippling burden of student loans. The time is now.
It’s indisputable that most students perform better academically when they have parents or adults to help with homework and to be advocates with teachers and principals.
But in many communities, parents who juggle multiple jobs, don’t speak much English, or have low levels of education often don’t have the time or resources to make meaningful connections to their child’s schooling experience.
That’s why some leading-edge districts have made it their job to reach out to families and create more welcoming and accessible ways for parents to be part of their children’s schooling.
In Washoe County, Nev., for example, the school district’s family-engagement work includes organizing home visits by teachers—and training those teachers to make the most of those face-to-face encounters in students’ homes.
In Federal Way, Wash., the leader of family-engagement efforts taps a diverse array of parents to serve on committees or task forces that inform major decision making in the district, including high-level hires.
Still, the specialized field of parent and family engagement has mostly been driven by ambitious leaders at the district level. And even in districts with robust programming, resources to support the work are often tight.
But new and potentially bigger forces are building around the need for schools and educators to forge deeper connections with parents and community members.
Philanthropists—in particular the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Carnegie Foundation of New York—are championing the flow of more money into family-engagement initiatives, including research to identify what efforts are effective.
And the federal budget has set aside $10 million to help fund efforts by several state education agencies and outside partners to develop strong parent and community programming.
The Every Student Succeeds Act also directs states and districts to develop plans to work with families and surrounding communities—a requirement that has spawned a multistate endeavor to create guidelines and exemplars for schools and districts to follow.
Advocates for building strong ties between schools and families say it’s a major opportunity for a proven, yet underutilized strategy to make schools better.
“There is a lot of excitement, and more of an evolution in where both policymakers and funders feel like they want to increasingly put their money,” said Vito Borrello, the executive director for the National Association for Family, School, and Community Engagement…
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WASHINGTON – Better integration of education at all levels, eliminating the distinction between higher education and career preparation and more cooperation among local, state and federal policymakers can remove barriers and better prepare a workforce that increasingly includes individuals who don’t fit the traditional profile of college students.
Those were some of the suggestions made by two experts at a policy roundtable discussion Wednesday presented by Higher Learning Advocates, a nonprofit organization devoted to connecting federal policies with the needs of postsecondary students, employers and communities.
At the roundtable, titled “Bridging the Education-Workforce Divide: Upskilling America’s Workforce,” Dr. Aaron Thompson, president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, and Dr. Jason Smith, partnership executive director of Bridging Richmond talent hub in Virginia, discussed challenges to bridging higher learning and the workforce and issues of access and success for students.
“The conversation itself is problematic and where to place emphasis in the pipeline,” said Smith. “We have to stop separating education and workforce preparation. We take those two parts and separate them out, and I think that’s really problematic. We need to start thinking about it all as being workforce preparation.”
Given the demographic changes and projections of postsecondary school populations in the United States, neotraditional or new traditional may be better terms for students long described as nontraditional. Through most of America’s recent history, the profile of an average college student was an unmarried middle-class White student attending full-time immediately after high school with parental financial support, living on campus and earning a bachelor’s degree in four to five years.
Today, however, only 13 percent of college students live on campus, 26 percent are parenting, 38 percent are older than 25, 40 percent attend part-time, 42 percent live at or below the federal poverty line, 47 percent are financially independent, 57 percent attend two-year colleges and 58 percent work while in school.
Add to those factors the unprecedented cultural diversity of student populations and diversity of postsecondary education options and the need to remove barriers to quality, affordability and successful outcomes for students becomes clear, said moderator and HLA deputy executive director Emily Bouck West.
A significant change in recent years, Thompson observed, is more students who perceive that they don’t have access to higher education and that they lack opportunities to succeed in that space, in spite of financial aid and other support systems designed to help students achieve both.
“Our job is to put value back in that value proposition,” said Thompson. “How do we change that? How do we talk about quality?”
A central part of the discussion should be greater alignment of educational arenas from preK-12 to two-year and four-year institutions, Thompson said. Providing quality education in a seamless continuum with career preparation as a central driver can help skeptical prospective postsecondary students – especially from underrepresented groups – see that education beyond high school is affordable and valuable, doable in a reasonable time and leads to employment, he said.
Breaking down silos between different types of postsecondary institutions can benefit students, said Smith, whether community colleges, baccalaureate programs, vocational-technical programs or online for-profit learning.
Data-sharing and articulation agreements that promote more thoughtful and efficient transfer of credit between schools can benefit students, Smith added. For example, a student may transfer from a community college to a four-year university without having earned a credential, but may find after one or two courses that those credits can be reverse-transferred to the community college and qualify the student for an associate’s degree.
Post-secondary students drop out or stop out for a range of personal issues, from financial to family concerns. Better credit-transfer rules and other such policy changes – which local, state and federal policies could promote – would increase the number of students completing a credential and help move more workers into the employment pipeline.
“One very different thing for students today is it is no longer the experience that you went to one institution and stayed there until you completed it,” said Smith. “People now are looking for learning they need for employment now. And where can I go later to add on? How can I stack into something that helps me over a long period of time?”
Smith and Thompson agreed that employers and schools must begin to work more closely together, and earlier in the formal education process, to ensure that student learning fits employer needs and expectations.
“There’s a need to get employers more involved on the front end in creating programs that matter and teach what they’re looking for,” said Thompson. “Everybody doesn’t have to go to college, but should have education post-high school that works. We need to be far more intentional in putting people on pathways, with employers engaged throughout the process for a continual-improvement model. We in higher education have to rethink how we’re doing business. And so do employers.”
Policies around financial aid also need to be revisited as both an access issue and a success issue, Thompson and Smith said. Paying for school and having the financial resources to meet human needs are concerns for traditional students as well as students from low-income and underrepresented groups, and guidelines around student loans and the Pell grant should be aligned with those needs, Thompson said.
Policymakers at the state and federal levels can play a role by incentivizing “disconnected” systems in higher ed to work better together for post-secondary students, said Smith.
Curriculum redesign informed by the employment sector as early as elementary school and wise use of outcomes data can close completion gaps and help students become culturally competent workforce participants, Thompson said.
“Schools need to align ourselves with a student success paradigm so we’re on the same page when talking about issues of quality and engagement,” he added.
Treating higher education as one system rather than multiple systems and helping students experience wrap-around services in a more integrated way “would go a long way” toward promoting the success of all students, Smith said.
“There needs to be a shift from an access-for-all mentality to a success-for-all mentality.”
LaMont Jones can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow him on Twitter @DrLaMontJones.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said that the country’s higher education system is in “crisis” thanks in part to a “government takeover of the student lending system” put in place by the Obama administration. But her contention was quickly fact-checked by a former GOP Senate staffer and other higher education experts.
“Our higher ed system is the envy of the world, but if we, as a country, do not make important policy changes in the way we distribute, administer, and manage federal student loans, the program on which so many students rely will be in serious jeopardy,” DeVos told the Federal Student Aid Training Conference in Atlanta in prepared remarks on Tuesday “Students are taking out tens of thousands of dollars in debt but many are misinformed or uninformed as to the implications of taking on that debt and their responsibilities to pay it back.”
Student debt, she said, is now 10 percent of national debt. “The student loan program is not only burying students in debt, it is also burying taxpayers and it’s stealing from future generations,” she said.
DeVos offered solutions for ballooning student debt, including giving students the opportunity to pursue the postsecondary path that’s right for them, even if that’s not a four-year college degree. She also called for boosting “innovation.” And she appeared to take a swipe at the free-college movement, whose champions include Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate.
“Nothing is free,” DeVos said. “Someone, somewhere ultimately pays the bills.”
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One year into a four-year $49 million initiative to improve training for aspiring school principals, a new RAND Corporation report found that seven universities are beginning to change their principal preparation programs to better reflect the real-world demands of the job.
The seven universities participating in The Wallace Foundation’s University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI) are redesigning their programs by working with local high-need school districts that hire their graduates as well as accreditation agencies in their states—a move not typical of most other programs.
“Past research shows that successful principal preparation programs should include partnerships with districts,” said Rebecca Herman, a senior researcher at RAND and a lead author on the report. “Our report illustrates such engagement is feasible, valuable and critical to creating these programs.”
Principals help set school vision and culture, supporting teacher effectiveness and, ultimately, improving student achievement. Some educators say many university programs that train principals favor theory over practice and provide too little field experience in which candidates learn by taking on duties of school leaders. The initiative seeks to boost such programs by generating lessons for other universities on how best to design a program that prepares effective principals.
The RAND report found that, during the first year of the initiative, programs are working to better align programs with expected skills needed upon graduation, as well as ensuring their programs meet state and national leadership standards. All have taken evidence-based self-assessments to see how programs can be improved and developed models to guide their redesign. Programs are trying to develop a more coherent curriculum that integrates theory and practice, and offer more hands-on training opportunities and greater collaboration with school districts by asking practitioner-leaders to work as part-time instructors.
In February 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) sued Navient Corporation and two of its subsidiaries for allegedly using shortcuts and deception to illegally cheat 12 million borrowers out of their rights to lower loan repayments. These practices, according to CFPB, led to an additional $4 billion in borrower costs.
Forbearance is only one option available to borrowers repaying their student loans. While other options less costly to borrowers like income-based repayment were available, Navient’s widespread use of forbearance boosted corporate profits by minimizing time spent advising distressed borrowers.
Navient’s profit-enhancing measures came at a great expense to borrowers. For example, three-years of deferment on $30,000 in student loans would cost a borrower an additional $6,742.
A few weeks later and in response to CFPB’s lawsuit, the Education’ Department’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) division audited Navient from March 20-24, 2017, and later produced a report of its findings on May 18, 2017.
But the audit remained secret until late November this year when the investigative expertise of Associated Press, aided by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA), finally led to public disclosure of its devastating findings. Rather than incur the wrath of consumers nationwide, and/or appear to support the CFPB or any of the multiple state attorneys general who also sued Navient, the Education Department never made the critical audit public.
As journalists would say, this story has legs: A Cabinet secretary allowed a federal contractor to act as if a key public agency worked for a private company. Additionally, audit findings hidden for a year from the public today impact 44 million student loan borrowers.
The one encouraging development in this still-unfolding scenario is that a U.S. Senator is still waging an effort to protect consumers. In a November 13th letter this year from Sen. Warren to Navient’s President and CEO, the Massachusetts Senator was justifiably direct.
“This report bolsters allegations that Navient illegally cheated struggling student borrowers out of their rights to lower repayments…This finding is both tragic and infuriating, and the findings appear to validate the allegations that Navient boosted its profits by unfairly steering student borrowers into forbearance when that was often the worst financial option for them.”
My own review of the report’s hidden findings by the audit’s six-member on-site review team uncovered how Navient not only failed to advise student loan borrowers of all available options to repay their loans but believed that its servicing contract with the Department of Education did not require the firm to do so.
A section of the report entitled, ‘Servicer Response’ states in part: “We disagree with 168 of the 228 servicing opportunity determinations (call review and servicing history review)….Nor are we aware of any requirement that borrowers receive all of their repayment options – IDR, deferment and forbearance – on each and every call…If FSA chooses to require all servicers to discuss IDR to all borrowers on all calls or to require all service representatives follow a common call flow, specific requirements should be provided in an approved Change Request.”
That’s a lot of corporate nerve.
Navient is supposed to work for the Department of Education, and by extension, the American people. Further, if Secretary DeVos allows this major contractor to shape what will or will not happen on her watch, what kind of public steward of taxpayer dollars is she?
The FSA findings give even more credence to the earlier CFPB investigation undertaken before filing its Navient lawsuit. CFPB learned that many of the borrowers that incurred excessive charges included military veterans who became disabled during their service to the country. Federal law provides that military veterans whose disabilities were incurred during service to the country are entitled to loan forgiveness.
Navient also holds title to a related and dubious distinction: More consumers filed complaints about Navient than any other student loan servicer. Complainants identified dealing with the servicer or lender as the key issue, compared to nearly half at 34 percent whose problems were based on an inability to pay their loans.
“At every stage of repayment, Navient chose to shortcut and deceive consumers to save on operating costs,” said then-CFPB Director Richard Cordray at the time the lawsuit was filed. “Too many borrowers paid more for their loans because Navient illegally cheated them.”
“Too many Americans are struggling to make their student loan payments every month,” said Whitney Barkley-Denney, a policy counsel specializing in student lending with the Center for Responsible Lending. “While the Department of Education has created programs to help make monthly payments more affordable, those programs only work if servicers are actually helping eligible borrowers access them. Servicers aren’t merely debt collectors – they can be a borrower’s lifeline to financial stability.”
Navient still has a chance to set its record straight. Sen. Warren’s letter requests a written reply to the litany of concerns by December 4.
Having one child who is heading to college can be stressful, but having to help multiple children at the same time can feel like too much to manage. While I can’t save you from a forgotten application deadline or the “how to do your own laundry” lessons, hopefully, I can help make the financial aid part of the process run more smoothly with these tips:
How many FSA IDs will my children and I need?
An FSA ID is a username and password combination that serves as your legal electronic signature throughout the financial aid process—from the first time your children fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form until the time their loans are paid off. You AND each of your children will need your own FSA ID. Parents and students can create their FSA IDs now.
Note: Your FSA ID is associated with your Social Security number and is equivalent to your legal signature; therefore, each person can only have one FSA ID. If you are a parent, you will use the same FSA ID to sign each of your children’s FAFSA forms.
How many FAFSA® forms do we have to complete?
Each student and one parent need an FSA ID, and each of your children will need to fill out a FAFSA form. Your children will need to provide your (parent) information on their 2019–20 FAFSA forms unless they are going to graduate school, were born before Jan. 1, 1996, or can answer “yes” to any of these dependency status questions.
Example: You have three children who are going to go to college or who are in college. You’ll need four FSA IDs—one for you as the parent (only one parent needs an FSA ID) and one for each child. You’ll need to fill out three FAFSA forms, one for each child.
Can I transfer my information from one child’s FAFSA® form to another so I don’t have to reenter it?
Yes! Once your first child’s FAFSA form is complete, you’ll get to a confirmation page. At the bottom of the confirmation page, you’ll see an option that asks, “Does your brother or sister need to complete a FAFSA?” Make sure you have your pop-up blocker turned off and select the arrow at the right.
NOTE: This transfer option is available on fafsa.gov but it is NOT available on the myStudentAid app at the moment.
TIP: If you want the process to go as smoothly as possible, your second child should have his or her FSA ID handy so you’re ready for the next step.
Once you select the arrow, a new window will open, allowing your other child to start his or her FAFSA form. We recommend that your child starts the FAFSA form by entering his or her FSA ID (not your FSA ID) using the option on the left (I am the student) in the image below. However, if you are starting your child’s FAFSA form, choose the option on the right (I am a parent, preparer, or student from a Freely Associated State) and enter your child’s information.
IMPORTANT: Regardless of who starts the application from this screen, the FAFSA form remains the student’s application; so when the FAFSA form says “you,” it means the student. If the FAFSA form is asking for parent information, it will specify that. When in doubt, refer to the ribbon at the top-left of the screen. It will indicate whether you’re being asked to provide student or parent information.
After you select the FAFSA form you’d like to complete and create a save key, you’ll be brought to the introduction page, which will indicate that parental data was copied into your second child’s FAFSA form.
Once you reach the parent information page, you will see your information prepopulated. Verify this info, proceed to sign and submit the FAFSA form, and you’re done!
NOTE: If you have a third (or fourth, fifth, etc.) child who needs to fill out the FAFSA form and provide your information, repeat this process until you’ve finished all your children’s FAFSA forms.
Two South Carolina law students were awarded scholarships Thursday, November 1 by the Association of Administrative Law Judges (AALJ), the union representing 1,400 federal administrative law judges at the Social Security Administration during the AALJ’s annual meeting in Charleston.
“As judges for a public agency which serves tens of millions of Americans, we’re delighted to honor outstanding law students like Kerry Shipman and Clarissa Guerrero,” said AALJ President Marilyn Zahm. “Their accomplishments in public interest law, so early in their careers, shows an outstanding commitment to the highest ideals of our profession.”
Ms. Guerrero, who is pursuing a joint degree in law and social work at the University of South Carolina (USC), is a volunteer guardian ad litem for abused and neglected children in South Carolina. She is also co-president of the USC School of Law Pro Bono Program Board and has served as a law clerk at the South Carolina Center for Father and Families. She is recognized by her teachers and fellow students as “a voice for the underrepresented, the misunderstood and the disenfranchised.”
Mr. Shipman, a law student at Charleston School of Law, has worked as an intern at the Mecklenburg County District Court and Charleston Pro Bono Legal services, and as a law clerk at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Carolina and at the Ninth Circuit Solicitor’s Office. He is presently a judicial extern for North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Michael R. Morgan.
Mr. Shipman has pursued his legal career in the face of considerable personal challenges following the death of his mother from colon cancer at the age of 46, as described in the Charleston Post and Courier. He is presently the legal guardian for his younger brother, a freshman in high school
AALJ members award a scholarship each year at the organization’s annual Educational Conference, recognizing law students with demonstrated experience or interest in pursuing a career in public interest law. The scholarships are made possible by donations from AALJ members and a contribution from LexisNexis Risk Solutions.
Concordia student, Dominick Snow Pierce, says filing the FAFSA helped him follow his dreams. (Photo by Ana Martinez-Ortiz)
As surprising as it may seem, applying to universities and trade schools may be the easiest step when it comes to continuing education. The second step, often viewed as the most daunting one, is filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid better known as FAFSA.
Over the years, FAFSA has gained a bad rep, although it’s working hard to change that. Recently, the FAFSA application process, which once began in April, changed to October. In other words, people can begin submitting their FAFSA applications as early as Oct. 1.
“FAFSA is the tool that opens the door to education,” said Mayor Tom Barrett.
According to Interim Milwaukee Public School Superintendent, Dr. Keith Posey, in 2016 the FAFSA completion rate in MPS hit 49.9 percent. This year’s goal is 80 percent. To help achieve this goal, all the high schools will be participating in the Wisconsin Goes to College Campaign, Posey said.
Additionally, to encourage more students to apply to college and FAFSA, 20 new college career centers were established in MPS high schools. M3, which consists of UW-Milwaukee, MATC and MPS, are continuing their joint efforts to ensure that every student continues their education.
Dr. Keith Posey, interim superintendent, says the college and FAFSA application processes are community efforts. (Photo by Ana Martinez-Ortiz)
Posey said FAFSA is a community effort. It’s not just the schools and the students, he said.
“[The students are] going to need your commitment and your support,” Posey said to parents.
Shannon Snow, the mother of Dominick Snow Pierce who graduated from MacDowell and now attends Concordia University, said the College Career Program helped Dominic with his applications.
As a mother, Snow said she always emphasized to her children that school was the top priority. MacDowell’s college advisors matched her commitment by following through with Dominick and making sure he filled out not only his college application, but FAFSA too. He’s eternally grateful his support system pushed him to do both, said Dominick.
“FAFSA is the best thing in life,” he said.
As a parent himself, Barrett said he knows how intimidating the FAFSA application can be. The name alone sounds scary he said. The first questions many people have is ‘What is FAFSA?’ followed by ‘How do I do FAFSA?’. Once the application process begins, it quickly becomes understandable, he said.
“We filled out the FAFSA,” he said. “[It was] one of the smartest economic decisions of my life.”
FAFSA helps the students and their parents establish a plan for their college years. Barrett called it a blueprint of do-ability that can help ease the discomfort of financial uncertainty. He said, as mayor, he speaks on behalf of the city. Milwaukee needs more kids to go to college, he said.
The job vacancies are there, but the applicants may not have the skills to even apply for the jobs, he said. Companies may decide to export the jobs if they can’t find employees in Milwaukee. This would be a huge blow to the city’s economic status. Wealth can be built in these neighborhoods, he said, and it can be built through education.
“The plus side is so huge, I think it’s worth it,” Barrett said.
Andrea Atkins, a single mother of seven MPS students, testified to how helpful FAFSA is. Of her children, four have attended college, so far, and three of them have graduated. Parents can support their child’s dream of attending college with FAFSA, she said.
“Our children are the future and we must invest in their education and success,” she said.
States: Got an idea for supporting the transition for high school Career and Technical Education students into postsecondary education and the workforce? The U.S. Department of Education wants to hear from you.
The department has created a new, $3 million grant program aimed at helping states provide apprenticeships in STEM fields (that’s science, technology, engineering, and math) during high school. The deadline to apply is July 17. The department will be holding a webinar on the program on June 5, 2018. You can register for it here.
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