In the News

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

About 81 percent of black graduates of public colleges and universities have student debt, compared with 63 percent of white graduates, according to report by Washington think tank Demos. Latino students borrow at similar rates to white students.

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Do you think economic factors perpetuate racial inequality?

Getting poor, minority children hooked on junk food is just one way the fast-food industry is getting over on us. Workers in the fast-food industry get paid among the lowest wages of any occupation. In New York, most fast-food occupations pay an average of around $9.00 an hour. This is why, as a recent study from the University of California-Berkeley reported, seven billion dollars per year are spent nationally on public assistance programs for fast-food workers.

After banning the box last year, the D.C. Council will consider a bill that would prohibit employers from checking an applicant’s credit history during most of the hiring process.

How much will your student loans cost you?

In 2015, the average student borrower is graduating with about $35,000 worth of debt. Paid over the course of 10 or more years, the cost of repayment will include several thousand dollars more to pay off the interest that accumulates on the loan.

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The push for “debt-free college” began only last fall. But, politically, this meme has everything: It’s an earnest response to a genuine policy problem, the rise in student debt loads. It captures the dreams and anxieties of millennial voters and their families. And it touches on the wrenching changes underway in a vital American industry — higher ed.
Late last year, a paper from the think tank Demos outlined how more federal support for state universities could allow students, or at least those with modest part-time jobs, to graduate without debt.
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Some community-college students don't get support from their families, while others had subpar high-school educations and have to play catch-up right away. In fact, a 2010 study by the public-policy organization Demos found that six out of 10 students entering community colleges have to take remedial courses to compensate for the skills and knowledge they never attained in high school.

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Students have turned to loans to keep up with the price hikes. The class of 2015 has the most debt in U.S. history, with each student graduating with an average of $35,051 in loans. The national total recently reached an all-time high of $1.2 trillion.

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