Make Higher Education Affordable

U.S. PIRG Higher Education Director Chris Lindstrom calling on Congress not to double the student loan interest rate.

Student Debt Is Skyrocketing

Higher education in America continues to be critical for both individual success and the social and economic health of our country. While college attendance has grown over the past two decades, state appropriations and federal aid have failed to keep pace with the rising cost of college, shifting more costs to students. As a result, more students than ever must rely on student loans to pay for a college degree, with the average borrower now graduating with over $26,000 in loan debt.  

Heavy student loan debt carries negative consequences for borrowers, who must make monthly payments with their hard-earned dollars rather than save up and get ahead. High debt can affect where graduates live, the kind of careers they pursue, when they start a family or purchase a home, and whether they can save for retirement. The combination of high student debt and low earnings can lead to default, ruined credit and wage garnishment. Such distress runs counter to the goal of higher education.

The U.S. PIRG Higher Education Project is working to:

1. Keep loans affordable: This July, interest rates will double on the subsidized Stafford loans that almost 8 million students use to pay for school. U.S. PIRG is campaigning to prevent interest rates from doubling and advocating for more and better repayment options once a student graduates. 

2. Increase grant aid to students, such as the Pell Grant: The Pell Grant is the federal government's cornerstone financial aid program, providing scholarship aid to almost 10 million students of modest income each year. U.S. PIRG is making sure that every student can rely on their grant to stay in school and make it to graduation.

3. Make textbooks affordable: Textbook prices are rising four times faster than inflation, leaving the average student now paying over $1,100 every year for textbooks. After working to end many tricks the publishing industry used to increase prices unfairly, U.S. PIRG is fostering real competition in the textbook market place by promoting more affordable options like open textbooks and open education resources.

Issue updates

Blog Post | Higher Ed

College students have been left behind. What’s the plan to support them?

Unnecessary costs for course materials, such as paying for access codes, are making a bad situation worse. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Higher Ed

The 2020 Open Textbook Pilot: why it matters and how to apply | Cailyn Nagle

The U.S. Department of Education is distributing $7 million in grants to support open textbook creation and adoption. Here's what you should know before you apply.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19, Higher Ed

Safe Travel Information for College Students and Parents

As parents and students make trips across the country to return to college, you are probably wondering how to do so safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. This guide will outline some of the safer options.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19, Higher Ed

Tips on what to pack for college during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a whole new situation for college students. This guide outlines items that students should pack when they return to campus.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | COVID-19, Higher Ed

Fall Update: Meeting Student Basic Needs During COVID-19 | Zack Szlezinger

The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting campuses nationwide. Here are a few of the ways that institutions are stepping up to meet students’ basic needs during the new term

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | CALPIRG Students | Higher Ed

Statement: Landmark Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights passes key hurdle

Passage in California State Senate committee leaves bill poised to become law

> Keep Reading
News Release | Florida PIRG Students | Higher Ed

Statement: Florida state budget defunds online learning programs, hurting students during pandemic

Gov. DeSantis vetoes programs students and educators rely on during COVID-19

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | COVID-19, Higher Ed

Student groups outline COVID-19 higher ed funding needs

A new coalition of student-lead associations and advocacy groups set out priorities for the next coronavirus response package and federal budget.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Higher Ed

The college course materials market is broken

In a survey this past fall, the USPIRG Education Fund and the Student PIRGs asked college students how the high cost of course materials affects them. As colleges shift to increased use of costly access codes to facilitate remote learning during COVID-19, the risks are higher than ever that students will be priced out of participating in class.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Higher Ed

Private lenders announce they’ll suspend student loan payments

 

State leaders secure relief to cover most Americans with student loans

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Pages

Result | Higher Ed

Protecting students from unfair bank fees

We helped win protections for students from unfair fees associated with campus bank accounts. The new rules, released by the U.S. Department of Education, ban some of the worst and most predatory fees that students encounter from banks.

> Keep Reading
Result | Higher Ed

Stopping Student Loan Interest Rates from Doubling

With college student debt reaching record levels, it is essential that we stop adding to students' loan burden. In spring 2012, U.S. PIRG speaheaded a coalition to stop the interest rate on federal Stafford student loans from doubling from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. This increase would have cost eight million students an additional $1,000 per loan. At the coalition's urging, Congress came together to find a bipartisan solution, extending the low interest rate for an additional year.

> Keep Reading
Result | Higher Ed

Keeping Higher Education Affordable

With the rising cost of higher education, it's critical to protect the federal financial aid programs that make college affordable for millions of students. U.S. PIRG helped lead the campaign that passed the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which makes huge investments in financial aid by ending sweetheart subsidies for big banks and student loan companies.

> Keep Reading
Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Higher Ed

Fixing the Broken Textbook Market, Second Edition

The U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the Student PIRGs asked students how the high cost of college course materials affects them. 

> Keep Reading
Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Higher Ed

Automatic textbooks billing: an offer students can't refuse?

New report says deals with publishers could make college textbooks more expensive

> Keep Reading
Report | Higher Ed

ACCESS DENIED: The New Face of the Textbook Monopoly

Across institutions and majors, an average of 32% of courses included access codes among the required course materials. At institutional bookstores, the average cost of an access code sold solo – i.e., not bundled with a textbook or primary course material of any form – was $100.24.

> Keep Reading
Report | Higher Ed

ACCESS DENIED: The New Face of the Textbook Monopoly

Across institutions and majors, an average of 32% of courses included access codes among the required course materials. At institutional bookstores, the average cost of an access code sold solo – i.e., not bundled with a textbook or primary course material of any form – was $100.24.

> Keep Reading
Report | The Student PIRGs | Higher Ed

Open 101

Skyrocketing textbook prices for common university courses are adding insult to the burdensome debt students assume to pay for college. This new report investigates those high textbook prices for common courses at schools across the country.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Higher Ed

College students have been left behind. What’s the plan to support them?

Unnecessary costs for course materials, such as paying for access codes, are making a bad situation worse. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Higher Ed

The 2020 Open Textbook Pilot: why it matters and how to apply | Cailyn Nagle

The U.S. Department of Education is distributing $7 million in grants to support open textbook creation and adoption. Here's what you should know before you apply.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19, Higher Ed

Safe Travel Information for College Students and Parents

As parents and students make trips across the country to return to college, you are probably wondering how to do so safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. This guide will outline some of the safer options.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19, Higher Ed

Tips on what to pack for college during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a whole new situation for college students. This guide outlines items that students should pack when they return to campus.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | COVID-19, Higher Ed

Fall Update: Meeting Student Basic Needs During COVID-19 | Zack Szlezinger

The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting campuses nationwide. Here are a few of the ways that institutions are stepping up to meet students’ basic needs during the new term

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post

The U.S. Department of Education is distributing $7 million in grants to support open textbook creation and adoption. Here's what you should know before you apply.

Blog Post

Unnecessary costs for course materials, such as paying for access codes, are making a bad situation worse. 

Blog Post

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a whole new situation for college students. This guide outlines items that students should pack when they return to campus.

Blog Post

As parents and students make trips across the country to return to college, you are probably wondering how to do so safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. This guide will outline some of the safer options.

Blog Post

The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting campuses nationwide. Here are a few of the ways that institutions are stepping up to meet students’ basic needs during the new term

Higher Ed

Student groups urge Congress to support higher education funding during COVID-19 crisis

Sixteen student groups from across the country have outlined ways Congress can support higher education needs during the COVID-19 crisis. The guidelines include increasing funding for Pell Grants, expanding access to affordable course materials, and providing relief for those struggling with student loan repayments.

 

Higher Ed

Fixing the Broken Textbook Market

The high price of college textbooks remains one of the most significant out of pocket expenses for students, and there has been little measurable improvement in key textbook affordability measures over the last six years. 

 

Higher Ed

Textbook merger fails to get approval from U.S. Department of Justice

In a win for college students, textbook publishers Cengage and McGraw-Hill stopped their merger after failing to get approval from the U.S. Department of Justice. We still have a long way to go, however, to ensure students have access to more affordable course materials.

 

Higher Ed

Lawmakers freeze student loan repayment during the coronavirus outbreak

As hours are reduced and more service, retail and hospitality jobs are lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans—including many student loan borrowers—are struggling to make ends meet. We commend federal lawmakers for putting a freeze on student loan repayments during this time of crisis. 

 
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