Americans Over 60 Now Have $67 Billion in Student Debt

Quartz: “It’s no secret that Americans carry an enormous amount of student debt: $1.3 trillion in total, owed by 44 million borrowers. Less well known is that many debtors aren’t borrowing for themselves, but for their children and grandchildren, and the number of Americans over 60 with student debt is soaring.”

“According to a new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, borrowers over 60 have $66.7 billion in student loan debt. The number of debtors over 60 has quadrupled in a decade—to 2.8 million in 2015 from 700,000 in 2005—making them the fastest growing age segment with student debt. While some of it was borrowed for their own education, more than two-thirds of the debt is owed for children or grandchildren.”

The U.S. Government Is Collecting Student Loans It Promised to Forgive

Bloomberg: “The Obama administration has repeatedly promised that borrowers eligible to have their student loans cancelled would be reimbursed for ‘every penny.’ But for months, the Education Department has been actively working to collect on federal student debt owed by tens of thousands of former students at Corinthian Colleges Inc., which filed for bankruptcy in 2015 under a cloud of fraud investigations. It is clear that government officials, working under their own guidelines, have reason to believe at least some of these same debts should be forgiven. When companies have similarly hounded borrowers to repay debt without disclosing that borrowers do not owe it, they have been charged by federal and state regulators with violating the law.”

“The Obama administration’s moves underscore a basic fact about the officials who run the federal student loan program: Their job is to maximize collections, not assist borrowers. In fact, the same person—James W. Runcie, chief operating officer of the department’s student aid unit—directly oversees both collection and forgiveness.”

If the U.S. Won’t Pay Its Teachers, China Will

Bloomberg Tech: “Mi is 33 and founder of a startup that aims to give Chinese kids the kind of education American children receive in top U.S. schools. Called VIPKid, the company matches Chinese students aged five to 12 with predominantly North American instructors to study English, math, science and other subjects. Classes take place online, typically for two or three 25-minute sessions each week.”

“In China, there are hundreds of millions of kids whose parents are willing to pay up if they can get high-quality education. In the U.S. and Canada, teachers are often underpaid—and many have quit the profession because they couldn’t make a decent living. Growth has been explosive. The three-year-old company started this year with 200 teachers and has grown to 5,000, now working with 50,000 children. Next year, Mi anticipates she’ll expand to 25,000 teachers and 200,000 children.”

It Turns Out Spending More Probably Does Improve Education

New York Times: “For many years, research on the relationship between spending and student learning has been surprisingly inconclusive. Many other factors, including student poverty, parental education and the way schools are organized, contribute to educational results… Opponents of increased school funding have seized on that ambiguity to argue that, for schools, money doesn’t matter — and, therefore, more money isn’t needed.”

“But new, first-of-its-kind research suggests that conclusion is mistaken. Money really does matter in education, which could provide fresh momentum for more lawsuits and judgments like the Connecticut decision.”

“The study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in July, was conducted by the economists Julien Lafortune and Jesse Rothstein of the University of California at Berkeley and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach of Northwestern.”

“They found a consistent pattern: In the long run, over comparable time frames, states that send additional money to their lowest-income school districts see more academic improvement in those districts than states that don’t. The size of the effect was significant. The changes bought at least twice as much achievement per dollar as a well-known experiment that decreased class sizes in the early grades.”

How One University Used Big Data To Boost Graduation Rates

NPR: “…a happy story cited in the report comes from Georgia State University, a large public university in Atlanta with more than 24,000 undergrads. Of those students, 60 percent are nonwhite, and many are from working-class and first-generation families.”

“Working with the help of an outside consulting firm, EAB, GSU analyzed 2.5 million grades earned by students in courses over 10 years to create a list of factors that hurt chances for graduation. EAB then built an early-warning system, which GSU calls GPS, for Graduation and Progression Success. The system is updated daily and includes more than 700 red flags aimed at helping advisers keep students on track to graduation.”

“The results have been dramatic.”

A Possible Solution to One College Cost Problem: Free Books

The Hechinger Report: “College students in Rhode Island will save a collective $5 million a year if a plan to replace traditional textbooks with free materials is effective.”

“‘Today’s college students, on average, spend more than $900 a year on textbooks,’ Rhode Island College president Frank Sánchez said in an interview with The Hechinger Report. ‘That just gets in the way of them staying in school.'”

What’s Really Happening with Student Loan Debt in the U.S.?

Brookings Institution: “Crippling student debt is something we read a lot about—and that many voters are eager to see the next president address.”

“But before we can develop the best policy solutions, we need to focus on the details. What burden is being faced by the “typical” borrower—and has that changed over time? Who’s taking on the most student debt—and how much of it?”

Why Harvard Raising a Record-Breaking $7 Billion Is Bad News for US Education

Quartz: “Harvard University has raised $7 billion, since its fundraising campaign began in 2013… For the majority of US higher education, however, Harvard’s record is bad news. There are two ways to explain why.”

“Harvard’s campaign is extending the streak of large philanthropic donations given to already very wealthy universities, who pay no tax on their endowments or on the gains they make by investing the endowment money. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall), ‘about half of US endowment wealth is held by two dozen schools enrolling 5% of the roughly 20 million students attending American colleges and universities.’”

“Another way to understand why Harvard’s record is bad news for US higher education is through an argument put forth by the writer Malcolm Gladwell in his podcast Revisionist History. He says that philanthropists who donate to poorer institutions are likely to going to get a lot more bang for the same buck.”

How Cuts to Public Universities Have Driven Students Out of State

New York Times: “Declines in state support for public universities have helped reshape the geography of public college admissions, leading many students to attend universities far from home, where they pay higher, out-of-state tuition. An analysis of migration patterns among college freshmen shows the states students leave each year and where they go.”

“Budget cuts have driven public universities across the country to seek out-of-state students, who pay higher tuition. They have found fertile ground in California and Texas, where declines in state support have increased tuition and limited the number of spots available.”

“Budget cuts have led to sharply higher tuition in Illinois and Minnesota, which export far more students than they import from other states. As a result, it can be cheaper for a Minnesota student to go to North Dakota State University, which attracts students with discounted tuition, than the University of Minnesota.”