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

News Release | U.S. PIRG; Student PIRGs | Higher Ed

Statement: American Families Plan’s 20 percent increase in Pell Grants is a good, but incomplete, step

The Biden administration released its $1.8 trillion American Families Plan Wednesday with investments ranging from paid family leave and childcare to higher education. One key element to the plan is an $85 billion increase to the Pell Grant, a need-based financial aid program for low and middle income students.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Higher Ed

Statement: Education Department offers relief to students defrauded by for-profit colleges

New Secretary Cardona to forgive loans for some borrowers whose schools shut down

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Higher Ed

How MASSPIRG and our student partners teamed up to take on deceptive student loan practices | Aaron Colonnese

Some student loan servicers take advantage of borrowers through unfair, predatory and even illegal lending methods. It’s a problem MASSPIRG and our partners have been working to solve for years — and our efforts were rewarded this past January, when the Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights was passed by the Legislature and then signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker. Nearly 1 million student borrowers across the commonwealth now have the protections they deserve against deceptive lending practices.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Higher Ed

Fixing the Broken Textbook Market, Third Edition | Cailyn Nagle

A survey on college textbook affordability during COVID-19.

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

Fixing the Broken Textbook Market, Third Edition

 COVID-19 has raised the barriers students face both financially and technologically to access course materials, even if it has not necessarily made course materials more expensive. Students who lost jobs due to the pandemic or who lacked reliable internet access were hardest hit by course materials costs. These problems will persist past the public health crisis without increased funding and implementing long term policies that prioritize access and affordability.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | U.S. PIRG; Student PIRGs | Higher Ed

Statement: American Families Plan’s 20 percent increase in Pell Grants is a good, but incomplete, step

The Biden administration released its $1.8 trillion American Families Plan Wednesday with investments ranging from paid family leave and childcare to higher education. One key element to the plan is an $85 billion increase to the Pell Grant, a need-based financial aid program for low and middle income students.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Higher Ed

Statement: Education Department offers relief to students defrauded by for-profit colleges

New Secretary Cardona to forgive loans for some borrowers whose schools shut down

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

Department of Education announces latest round of Open Textbook Pilot grants

Four new initiatives will save students millions.

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG | Higher Ed

MASSPIRG praises passage of key bill to protect student loan borrowers

Economic Dev. bill that includes new protections for borrowers is heading to Governor Baker’s desk to sign

> Keep Reading
News Release | USPIRG | Higher Ed

Congress’ grade on funding higher education: Incomplete

FY21 federal budget makes some positive changes for higher education, but there is still work to do

> Keep Reading

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, Third Edition

 COVID-19 has raised the barriers students face both financially and technologically to access course materials, even if it has not necessarily made course materials more expensive. Students who lost jobs due to the pandemic or who lacked reliable internet access were hardest hit by course materials costs. These problems will persist past the public health crisis without increased funding and implementing long term policies that prioritize access and affordability.

> 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

Pages

Blog Post | Higher Ed

How MASSPIRG and our student partners teamed up to take on deceptive student loan practices | Aaron Colonnese

Some student loan servicers take advantage of borrowers through unfair, predatory and even illegal lending methods. It’s a problem MASSPIRG and our partners have been working to solve for years — and our efforts were rewarded this past January, when the Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights was passed by the Legislature and then signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker. Nearly 1 million student borrowers across the commonwealth now have the protections they deserve against deceptive lending practices.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Higher Ed

Fixing the Broken Textbook Market, Third Edition | Cailyn Nagle

A survey on college textbook affordability during COVID-19.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Higher Ed

Legislative priorities to make higher education more affordable in 2021 | Zack Szlezinger

We need Congress to take bold, bipartisan action to make life-changing degrees easier and more affordable to get.

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

COVID-19 college reopening scorecard | Zack Szlezinger

Colleges all over the country have decided to open their doors to students, but reopening remains unsafe in nearly all states.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | U.S. PIRG; Student PIRGs

The Biden administration released its $1.8 trillion American Families Plan Wednesday with investments ranging from paid family leave and childcare to higher education. One key element to the plan is an $85 billion increase to the Pell Grant, a need-based financial aid program for low and middle income students.

News Release

New Secretary Cardona to forgive loans for some borrowers whose schools shut down

Blog Post

Some student loan servicers take advantage of borrowers through unfair, predatory and even illegal lending methods. It’s a problem MASSPIRG and our partners have been working to solve for years — and our efforts were rewarded this past January, when the Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights was passed by the Legislature and then signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker. Nearly 1 million student borrowers across the commonwealth now have the protections they deserve against deceptive lending practices.

Blog Post

A survey on college textbook affordability during COVID-19.

Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

 COVID-19 has raised the barriers students face both financially and technologically to access course materials, even if it has not necessarily made course materials more expensive. Students who lost jobs due to the pandemic or who lacked reliable internet access were hardest hit by course materials costs. These problems will persist past the public health crisis without increased funding and implementing long term policies that prioritize access and affordability.

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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