Three Strikes and You're Out

Posted by Maica Pichler on September 03, 2014 at 12:45 PM

 In the latest apologia for the current system for financing higher education, The New Republic’s columnist and science editor, Dodger_Stadium_Video_Boards_2012_Renovation.pngJudith Shulevitz disputes the validity of three key critiques of higher education in order to prove that things aren’t really as bad as critics say they are. She whiffs on all three attempts, however, making the case for fundamental reform of our colleges and universities even stronger. First, she insists that “undergraduate education isn’t broken.” Yes, she concedes “administrators are more resistant to cost-cutting than they ought to be, given the popular outrage about tuition. And states are less willing to fund their own public universities than they used to be.” But she says higher education as an employer is in better shape than “newspapers,” which may provide some comfort to the faculty, but doesn’t even begin to address the criticism of parents of college students who are properly focused on the education their children are supposed to be getting for all the money they are paying for tuition.

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Public Colleges Can Be Tuition Free

Posted by Maica Pichler on August 28, 2014 at 1:12 PM

Originally published on Care2's Education blog

“My lack of a college education hurt my kids. It’s a domino effect. It’s a downward spiral.” - Colleen Garlock


The exciting prospect of going to college is all too often dampened by the reality of crushing debt, leaving many families unable to afford the higher education that is a necessary ticket to a middle class life.

Take, for example, the story of Colleen Garlock. A hard working mother of two, Garlock was unable to afford college, despite graduating as a top student. She’s determined to send her son, Anthony, to college, but they worry about the tremendous debt he’s about to accrue.

That’s why, when she stumbled across a new organization pushing for a far reaching solution to her families’ problem, she signed right up: “We can tell [my daughter] Katie, ‘we can send you to school and we can get you a car, or you can eat something more than ramen, or you can get married, and we can think of retirement.’” The intergenerational, bipartisan coalition, called The Campaign for Free College Tuition, is already making headlines with its bold idea that the federal government should provide “Promise” scholarships to any student accepted to college from a lower or middle income family. Its supporters include former governors, members of Congress and former Clinton administration officials.

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Fix the Problem of College Affordability—Don’t Deny It

Posted by Maica Pichler on August 21, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Screen_Shot_2014-07-31_at_12.39.22_PM.pngIt is becoming increasingly clear that the higher education establishment is tone deaf on the impact of the escalating price of college tuition.  As a result of their unwillingness to embrace change, for the first time in American  history,  students and their families are now paying half or more of the full cost of college—an 18- to 22-percentage point increase at public four-year institutions over the last decade. The only solution to this growing threat to the American Dream is to make public colleges tuition free. The latest “How America Pays for College” report from Sallie Mae shows that parents belief in the benefits of a college education for their children remains as strong as ever, with 85% of parents surveyed strongly agreeing that it was an investment in their child’s future. The survey found that especially among low-income, Hispanic and African-American families having their child earn a degree was a critical part of the American Dream. Two-thirds of those surveyed felt a degree was more important than ever and 58% were willing to stretch their family’s finances to pay for it.

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From Construction Worker to College Grad

Posted by Maica Pichler on August 15, 2014 at 2:11 PM

Fernando Funes will be interviewing students this year to talk about their tuition debt stories – and what the dream of free college tuition means to them. Here’s his own.

Hell, if it was not for college, I’d probably still be working a brutal, back-breaking, construction job in my hometown of Santa Ana, CA. I’m grateful for the student loans that allowed me to focus on my education at Berkeley... but I’m starting to wonder how my economic future will be affected.

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The Culprits Behind Rising Price of College

Posted by Maica Pichler on August 14, 2014 at 11:05 AM

As of November 2014, Redeeming America's Promise is now named the Campaign for Free College Tuition. American Promise scholarships are now known as National Promise scholarships.

One of the questions we always get when talking about our plan to make public colleges


tuition free is what is behind the rapid rise in tuition rates that scare so many parents. Certainly part of the reason is the decline in state support of their institutions of higher education. As of the end of 2011, the data says  such subsides reached their lowest point in a decade, averaging $6,000 to $7,000 per student at public four year institutions, causing students for the first time to pay a majority of the cost of attending college. In the year since, the list price for tuition and fees increased by about 4 percent at public and private non-profits and by almost 5 percent at public two year colleges according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

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RAP: The Basics

Posted by Maica Pichler on August 06, 2014 at 12:00 PM

As of November 2014, Redeeming America's Promise is now named the Campaign for Free College Tuition. American Promise scholarships are now known as National Promise scholarships.


When it comes to student debt and paying for college, there’s very little to get excited about. In fact, the exciting prospect of going to college is all too often dampened by the reality of crushing debt. We all hear the stories. Houses can’t be brought because of terrible credit ratings. Diplomas are weighed down by tens of thousands of dollars of debt. There are hidden costs, manipulative loan companies, and miles and miles of red tape. People’s lives are ruined when all they were doing was seeking to better themselves. The amount that the economy is weighed down by student debt is almost unbelieveable, and the numbers are staggering. Frankly, it is as disgusting as it is un-American.

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A Plan to Make College Tuition Free

Posted by Maica Pichler on July 31, 2014 at 7:24 AM

As of November 2014, Redeeming America's Promise is now named the Campaign for Free College Tuition. American Promise scholarships are now known as National Promise scholarships.


At a time when the cost of college is skyrocketing and thousands of Americans are in default on their student loans, it feels like Screen_Shot_2014-07-09_at_11.34.57_AM.pnghigher education financing reform is on everyone’s mind. Politicians in Washington have drafted their own solutions, but no one is getting help from across the aisle. Cue Redeeming America’s Promise, (RAP) a new nonprofit, bipartisan organization with an innovative plan to curb the costs of college tuition. The cornerstone of Redeeming America’s Promise plan is the establishment of an American Promise Scholarship program that would provide every academically qualified student from a middle or lower income family enough money to pay for tuition at either a two or four year college. Successful “Promise” scholarship programs already exist in several states and localities. They’ve helped thousands of students earn a college degree - but RAP is the first organization with a detailed plan on how to bring free college tuition to the national level. Backed by former Democratic and Republican elected officials, public policy experts and everyday Americans, RAP seeks to gather enough momentum to fundamentally change the way students pay for college - for the better.

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The Devastating Consequences of Student Debt Cannot Be Denied

Posted by Maica Pichler on July 23, 2014 at 8:45 AM

As of November 2014, Redeeming America's Promise is now named the Campaign for Free College Tuition. American Promise scholarships are now known as National Promise scholarships.

A recent research report on student debt by the Brookings Institution was the subject of a misleading column in the New York 10KLpghI_8TIxbDgViTGqlhTExD29fxPOvToRBf6kxUgzV79vfzlbx6AH8an9FOaIR8LDg_w1141-h467.jpgTimes that suggested the problem was greatly overstated. Nothing could be further from the truth. For instance, according to a research report on Borrowing for College by the Campaign for College Opportunity, the share of 25 year olds with student debt increased from 15% in 2003 to 43% in 2012 and the average student debt nearly doubled in that time period from $17,580 to $25,884.

The authors of the Brookings study did everything in their power to try and distort the facts about student debt, including excluding from their analysis anyone who was not making payments on their student debt and households headed by a parent over 40, even if their Millennial children owed the debt. They also calculated the amount of student debt by dividing the number of members of the household by the family’s total student debt, even though in most cases only one person, the student, was obligated to pay it. Making matters even worse, they focused on the level of monthly payments, not lifelong obligations, as a measurement of the burden.

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Blog Misstates RAP’s Impact on Community Colleges

Posted by Maica Pichler on July 18, 2014 at 7:54 AM

As of November 2014, Redeeming America's Promise is now named the Campaign for Free College Tuition. American Promise scholarships are now known as National Promise scholarships.

I provided the following response to a recent Inside Higher Education blog post that misstates how Redeeming America’s Promise will impact community colleges.  If you agree with us that the status quo of staggering tuition inflation and student debt is unacceptable, please endorse our plan today.

"Matt Reed misunderstands and misstates important aspects of the Redeeming America’s Promise proposal but he gets one thing right: it would limit tuition inflation to the consumer price index for students using America Promise Scholarships to cover in-state tuition charges at public two and four year colleges.  To be clear, ending unwarranted tuition inflation is one of our major policy goals.  It is simply unacceptable that tuition costs have risen over 500% since 1985, a rate even greater than health care inflation.

The RAP proposal shows that tuition at public colleges can be free without new income taxes or raising either personal or national debt.  The APS scholarship amounts are set based on national averages for two and four year college tuition.  It may be that these scholarships amounts will vary to reflect interstate and intrastate differences.  As long as the total does not exceed the national averages, the RAP proposal for free tuition at public colleges is affordable within current federal budget limits.

Removing cost as a barrier to higher education requires meaningful action at the federal, state and institution levels.  We believe that American colleges and universities are fully capable of being able to provide quality curricula while also curtailing tuition costs."

Let's Make Kalamazoo's Promise America's Promise

Posted by Maica Pichler on July 01, 2014 at 8:46 AM

As of November 2014, Redeeming America's Promise is now named the Campaign for Free College Tuition. American Promise scholarships are now known as National Promise scholarships.

Redeeming America’s Promise has a credible, fiscally responsible plan to make public colleges tuition free. But we aren’t the only ones advocating for this fundamental transformation of our system for financing higher education.

The idea of making a promise to young students that they only have to worry about their grades and not about the cost of attending college started in Kalamazoo, Michigan eight years ago and has spread to communities across the country as disparate as El Dorado, Arkansas and Tulsa, Oklahoma. Now states are beginning to think about ways to do the same thing for their residents, and one Republican Governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam, has signed legislation that will make community colleges in his state free of all tuition and fees by the fall of 2015. With this building support for the idea, it’s only a matter of time before there is a national consensus in favor of using the resources of the federal government to help make it a reality.

The cities that have adopted a version of the Kalamazoo Promise have all done so as part of an economic development strategy. The city of Kalamazoo has experienced a rebirth of their housing market as people moved into the city so their children could qualify for a free college education upon graduating from high school. El Dorado, AR has the same public school attendance requirement but now allows the scholarship money to be used at nearby private colleges as well. Tulsa’s program, called Tulsa Achieves, requires two years of community service as well as high school graduation. It is even more targeted at keeping young people in their community and making them a productive part of their workforce. Tennessee’s Promise is part of the Governor’s larger “Drive to 55” initiative whose mission is for “workforce and economic development, a drive to reduce unemployment and improve quality of life”.

The goal is the same in every case-improve the economic skills of the local community or state by making sure they get the level of education today’s economy requires. The time has come to apply the same logic to the entire nation’s workforce. The federal government can and should create American Promise Scholarships that will pay for the cost of tuition at public universities and community colleges in every state, ensuring our nation’s economic competitiveness and expanding America’s historical commitment to universal, free education.

Image Source: Mark Bialek/AP-File

We can't do this alone!

Our goal is to make higher education a possibility for every American, without regard to their financial circumstances.

We have a lot to do and not much time to do it, so your support is critical for our campaign to succeed. It’s with your investment that we can fundamentally reform how higher education is financed in this country, opening the doors to a more equitable society.

If you agree with our goal, our plan, and the urgency of the problem, we ask that you give what you can to help us write the next chapter in our nation’s history of continuously expanding access to universal, free education.

The Campaign for Free College Tuition is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization established in the State of Washington in 2014 to educate parents, students, the higher education community, policy makers and taxpayers about efforts needed to fundamentally reform our nation’s system for financing higher education. This website and CFCT’s educational outreach activities are made possible through generous individual and foundation support.