Sep 21, 2019

Morehouse College debt relief will assist parents

Robert F. Smith gives the Morehouse College 135th Commencement May 19 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Marcus Ingram/Getty Images

Billionaire Robert F. Smith's pledge to pay off the Morehouse College class of 2019's student loan debt, previously estimated to be a $40 million gift, will cost $34 million and will "now include federal educational debt amassed by parents," Bloomberg reports.

The big picture: Student debt in the U.S. has reached $1.5 trillion, according to the Center for American Progress, and the class of 2018 graduated with a record average of $29,200 in loans to help pay for a bachelor's degree. Black students are also 20% more likely than others to need federal student loans. The USC Race and Equity Center found this year that public higher education lacks resources to support black students from admissions to graduation.

Details: More than 400 borrowers who graduated Morehouse College will be covered by by Smith's donation for loan balances held as of Aug. 28, per Bloomberg. The college said on Friday that "the student loan debt at graduation is $35,000 to $40,000, which is higher than the average for students at historically black colleges and universities."

Go deeper: Morehouse debt relief highlights broken system for black students in higher ed

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Debt-free college: Where the 2020 presidential candidates stand

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Beto O'Rourke, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Sen. Cory Booker. Photo: Getty Images.

A clear divide exists among 2020 Democrats who are rolling out plans to tackle the student debt crisis, whether tuition-free or debt-free policies are the way to win voter support.

By the numbers: Student debt in the United States has reached $1.5 trillion, and it is responsible for much of millennials and Generation X's anguish.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Oct 8, 2019

How a chatbot boosted graduation rates at Georgia State

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo. Photo by Prince Williams/Wireimage

ATLANTA — Georgia State University is leveraging AI-powered chatbots and predictive data analytics to create a new student-advising system that has significantly boosted graduation rates.

Why it matters: It's well known that personalized, timely attention plays a major role in graduation rates at all grade levels. But the students who most need that support are often the least likely to get it.

Go deeperArrowSep 21, 2019

Joe Biden's higher education plan includes free community college

Joe Biden speaking at a candidate forum. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Joe Biden's 2020 campaign unveiled a $750 billion higher education plan Tuesday that includes tuition-free community and technical college — with the federal government picking up 75% of the cost and allowing states to cover the rest — as well as more generous federal college loan programs, per the AP.

The state of play: Biden's plan isn't as far reaching as those put forth by his opponents, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who both offer plans exceeding $1 trillion. Sanders' plan proposes eliminating all student loan debt, while Warren calls for broad debt relief based on income.

Go deeper ... Debt-free college: Where the 2020 presidential candidates stand