• New York-based startup Frank provides free technology to expand and automate students’ applications for federal financial aid. Their tagline: “Get your aid, it’s free.”

 

  • The average student debt of Maine graduates is almost $30,000. Governor Paul LePage calls on his state’s lawmakers to promote student debt relief, such as incentivizing employers to assume loan payments for their employees. Separately, a commentator argues that employer 401k (retirement) contributions are more valuable for employees than employer contributions to loan payments.

 

  • In 2016-17, Virginia awarded over 54,000 bachelor’s degrees, the most in its history. The state has set aggressive goals to expand participation in higher ed by 2030.

 

  • Ohio columnist Beverly Theil observes a fundamental problem amid the drive to promote post-secondary education, pointing out that “We may be getting ahead of ourselves; we may be assuming our high school students are ready for college or trade school.” Test scores and high school graduation rates in Ohio indicate this may be a false assumption.

 

  • The recently-signed tax bill now extends 529 college savings programs to include spending of up to $10,000 on private K-12 education. The bill also establishes a new excise tax on private colleges’ endowments.

 

  • Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs is criticized for using taxpayers’ 529 accounts as leverage in political causes as an activist shareholder.