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Where in the Pell Are They? U.Va. Can Be Selective Without Being Exclusive

High-achieving students from low-income backgrounds aren’t fictitious characters from the Game of Thrones HBO series; they exist — and in much larger numbers than many elite institutions would have you believe. Too many of these institutions rely on their selective admissions requirements to explain why so few low-income students enroll in their college.

In fact, at a symposium we co-hosted this month in Charlottesville, Va., a senior administrator at the University of Virginia used this excuse while attempting to explain why Pell Grant recipients make up only 12 percent of undergraduates, even though about 42 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds without a college degree in the Commonwealth are from low-income or working-class family backgrounds.

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Continue to Put Pressure on the Department of Education for a Strong Gainful Rule

With the public comment period for the proposed “gainful employment” regulations long closed, we have time to look back at what we’ve accomplished and see what work is still to be done.

With the help of borrowers, students, parents, and advocates from around the country, tens of thousands of comments were submitted to the U.S. Department of Education urging them to issue a stronger final “gainful employment” rule.

Burned by a Career-Ed Program: Real and Raw Student Stories

The U.S. Department of Education plans to release its final "gainful employment" rule in October 2014. The draft rule, circulated by the department earlier this year, proposed cutting off access to federal financial aid for career-education programs (many of which are at for-profit colleges) whose graduates have high student loan default rates or high levels of student loan debt relative to their incomes. It is essential that the department adopt a final rule with strong protections for students.

During the month of May we asked students to submit their stories as public comments on the department’s draft “gainful employment” rule. Many of the student victims who have been exploited and defrauded by career-education programs offered compelling evidence of the need for stronger protections. Here’s what some of them had to say:

Low-Income Students Deserve a Real ‘CHANCE’ at Affordable College

Each year millions of Americans depend on Pell Grants to help make college affordable. Research has shown that need-based grant aid, like Pell Grants, increases college enrollment among low- and moderate-income students. But with college costs skyrocketing over the last three decades, Pell Grants have lost much of their purchasing power. In the 1980s, Pell Grants covered 77 percent of the cost of college at a four-year public college for low-income students. Today that share has dropped significantly to only 31 percent of the cost.

Rep. Jared Polis Joins #AccessMeans Chat on Federal Solutions to College Affordability Crisis

Last week, I AM NOT A LOAN hosted its third #AccessMeans Twitter chat, with special guest Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), to talk about how federal policy shapes what college #AccessMeans. Students and advocates had a chance to share their stories and ask Polis about federal solutions to the college affordability crisis.

Twitter Chat Discusses How Students Can Impact what College #AccessMeans

Last week I AM NOT A LOAN hosted our second Twitter Chat on What College #AccessMeans. Joined by Young InvinciblesUSSA (U.S. Students Association) and Restore AccessUVa we talked about how those most affected by the college affordability crisis, students, can take action on their campus and in their states to stop state disinvestment from higher education and hold colleges accountable for keeping costs low.

First Come, Last Served

University Does Not Do Enough to Accommodate First-Generation Students

This blog was cross-posted from The Chicago Maroon, by Lynda Lopez

Recently, UChicago has shown an increased commitment to recruiting low-income students through initiatives such as QuestBridge and UChicago Promise. Fifty-one students in the Class of 2018 received full four-year scholarships through QuestBridge, the highest among all 35 partner colleges; 73 students in the Class of 2017 benefited from UChicago Promise, which includes a guarantee of no loans for Chicago residents who attended Chicago high schools and are admitted to the College.

All these initiatives are great, but what happens after these students arrive on campus? Many of them are also first-generation, meaning they are the first in their families to attend college.

Being a low-income, first-generation college student can be like jumping into a pool without knowing how to swim. As the daughter of immigrants with no college graduates in my family, I didn’t have a good idea of what to do once I was here. I didn’t know how to ask professors or TAs for help or how to pick the right classes. Everything was foreign to me.

Overcompensated and Underperforming

Originally posted on The Equity Line 

What’s more disturbing — that nine public college executives earned more than $1 million last year or that there appears to be little connection between president pay and college performance in serving students?

Of those nine executives, two lead institutions where the six-year graduation rate is far below the national average of 59 percent.

At the University of Houston, where President Renu Khator made $1.2 million last year, only 46.2 percent of students graduate in six years. While the University of Houston’s graduation rate ticked up by only one-tenth of 1 percentage point between 2011 and 2012, Khator’s total compensation increased by 75.3 percent.

Here’s How to Strengthen the Gainful Employment Rule

 

Blog was originally posted on The Equity Line 

Students traveled to Capitol Hill last week to tell Congress the hardships they have faced because the career education programs in which they were enrolled left them with nothing more than high debt and little, if any, real career preparation. Unfortunately, we know far too well that their stories aren’t unique. Students all across this country enrolled in predatory career education programs have similar experiences.

Students Came Together to Talk About What #AccessMeans

Last week, I AM NOT A LOAN joined forces with Student Voice to host a conversation on what college #AccessMeans to those battling the college affordability and debt crises. Using the hashtags #StuVoice and #AccessMeans, students, recent grads, and activists took to Twitter to share their story, inspire others to do the same, and talk about ideas for action.

Once the clock struck 8:30 p.m. ET and the chat started, advocates jumped right in and started telling us what #AccessMeans. Many tweeted that #AccessMeans being able to follow their dreams so that they could break through barriers such as being a first-generation student, being student from a family with limited economic means, or growing up in an underserved community.