Affordable Higher Education

A college degree is practically a necessity these days, not only for the individual student, but for the economic and social health of the country. But as states cut budgets, and grant aid has diminished, students are relying on loans to pay for college.

It has not always been this way. Twelve years ago only one-third of college graduates from four year public colleges needed to borrow money to attain a college degree and graduates who borrowed carried around $12,000 of debt on average. Today more than two-thirds of graduates have federal student loan debt and carry over $23,000 on average. The percentage of students with $25,000 worth of private student loan debt has increased, from 5% in 1996 to 24% in 2008. 

A college degree must remain within reach for families of modest means, and affordable over the long term for the borrowers and parents in repayment. We work to increase student grant aid, make debt levels more manageable, and protect students as consumers from practices that contribute to educational debt.  

We need robust grant programs on a state and federal level, a simpler system of student aid that actively encourages student and parental participation, and stronger safeguards for student borrowers in repayment.  

Also, we can lower student debt by protecting student consumers. College students pay unjustifiably high amounts for college textbooks each year. And those who rely on credit and debit cards to help offset day to day costs of education, or to access their financial aid disbursements, can get slapped with penalty fees and terms that take advantage of them.

Issue Updates

Student Debt Calculators

Summary

Calculate your debt! There are plenty of calculators available beyond these.

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Media Hit | Higher Ed, Textbooks

The great textbook robbery

A watchdog group called CALPIRG has issued a report called Ripoff 101, documenting that the giant publishers are raising prices of college texts at a rate three times higher than the prices of general books.

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College students’ debit card fees under scrutiny

The neediest college students who qualify for federal financial aid and receive that money on a debit card are being charged fees some call predatory: 50 cents per debit card purchase using a personal identification number, $10 a month for an inactive account, $20 for a replacement card.

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News Release | Higher Ed

FDIC Orders Higher One to Repay Students $11 Million in Campus Debit Card Settlement

Washington, D.C. – The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) today announced an $11 million civil penalty and restitution settlement with the largest campus financial aid disbursement and debit card company Higher One and its bank affiliate for alleged “unfair” and “unsafe” practices involving overdraft fees imposed on college students. 

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News Release | US PIRG | Higher Ed, Student Debt

NEW FINANCIAL AID SHOPPING SHEET HELPS STUDENTS KNOW BEFORE THEY OWE

“The good news today is that students have one tool to help keep skyrocketing student loan debt in check.  

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