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 | 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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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Higher Ed

Education Department offers students much-needed relief, but additional action necessary

President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced today that the Education Department would allow federal student loan borrowers to forgo payments for 60 days without penalty.

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

U.S. PIRG urges Congress to freeze student loan repayment during coronavirus outbreak

Freezing student loan payments for the duration of the pandemic will allow Americans to keep food on the table and stay safe. Congress needs to act swiftly to make it financially possible for people to do the right thing and stay home.

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Pages

Report | U.S. PIRG | Higher Ed

Covering the Cost

A report explaining why decision-makers can no longer afford to ignore high textbook prices.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the Student PIRGs | Higher Ed

Affordable Textbooks: A Policy Guide

A guide to policy on textbook affordability through the development of open-source textbooks.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the Student PIRGs | Higher Ed

Fixing the Broken Textbook Market

This study demonstrates that despite recent steps forward in the marketplace, high textbook costs will continue to be a problem for students unless the cost of high-priced, new editions of college textbooks comes down.

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

Student Loan Debt in Maine

Without a new plan from Congress, on July 1 the interest rate on subsidized Stafford student loans will double, from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. In Maine, 33,883 federal student loan borrowers will be impacted if the rate doubles.

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Report | U.S. PIRG | Higher Ed

Issue Brief: Don't Double Our Rates

Congress should be helping to keep college affordable, not making it more expensive for student loan borrowers to pay for college.

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Pages

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
Blog Post | Higher Ed

Free resources without an expiration date | Cailyn Nagle

Getting educators and students the course materials they need during COVID-19

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Higher Ed

Meeting student basic needs during COVID-19 | Kaitlyn Vitez

Thousands of college campuses are shutting down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Here's how campus administrators can serve vulnerable students as the crisis continues. 

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Blog Post | Higher Ed

Who is watching out for students? | Kaitlyn Vitez

The Department of Education and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau need to act on campus debit cards

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Pages

News Release | U.S. PIRG

Four new initiatives will save students millions.

News Release | MASSPIRG

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

News Release | USPIRG

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

Blog Post

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

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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