In the News

With college tuition costs at an all-time highDemos, a D.C.-based public policy organization, recently proposed a debt-free college initiative.

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An analysis of competitive House races in the 2014 midterms by MASSPIRG and the think tank Demos confirmed that such a program could fundamentally change the balance of power in Congressional elections. The study found that, between the top two vote-getters in the 25 most competitive districts, only 14% of the donations secured were less than $200. Meanwhile, the analysis looked at grassroots-backed candidates of both parties and found that a small donor match would have substantially limited, or even flipped, the money advantage in their races.

"Debt-free" might not sound as sexy as simply "free," but O'Malley's approach could in fact create a more effective mandate for radically reducing the cost of college in the United States.
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“The decline in state funding for state colleges and universities is the main driver of what’s increasing costs,” says Mark Huelsman, senior policy analyst at Demos, a liberal think tank. He’s the author of a 2014 proposal for increasing public higher education funding that he says has drawn interest from several presidential primary candidates.

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Policy makers are also exploring ways to maintain a safety net for seniors with defaulted student loans, while still ensuring the Education Department gets the money it’s owed. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and McCaskill, Democrats from Massachusetts and Missouri, respectively, sent a letter to the GAO earlier this year asking for more information about the financial and loan status of seniors losing their benefits.

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European countries also differ substantively from the US in terms of the percentage of college attendees that their debt free models serve.

“Germany has a lower percentage of students go on to college than we have here in the US,” Mark Huelsman, a senior policy analyst at think tank Demostold ATTN.

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Over the past 10 years, the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization's Project on Student Debt has been laser-focused on this issue. Their first big campaign, backed by a broad range of student and education groups, was to introduce income-based repayment for loans, a proposal adopted by the Obama administration and passed into law in 2007.

Asher's group isn't the only policy shop that recognizes that student debt is having a moment.

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South Carolina may soon address the threat of white-supremacist terrorism with more realistic, acute legislation.


Thanks to certain progressive senators and Democratic presidential hopefuls, interest in debt-free college is at an all-time high. But what happens next is very much uncertain — people don’t even agree on what debt-free college means, much less how (or whether) to make it a reality. Demos, which put the idea on Washington’s radar via a white paper last May, is now trying to tackle both issues — by wrangling a common definition of the idea, and starting to codify it via Higher Education Act reauthorization.

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No one gets a job as a retail cashier or shopping assistant to get rich.
While the retail industry is known for its paltry pay across the board, skin color has an alarming influence on how many raises and promotions a worker receives.
White retail workers earn $15.32 an hour, on average, while African American and Latino retail workers average less than $11.75, according to a recent analysis of government data by NAACP and Demos, a left-leaning think tank.
The reason is simple: white workers are mor