Student loan debt in the U.S. is at crisis levels. Americans owe more on their student loans than on their credit cards, with the total amount of student debt surpassing $1 trillion. What's more, with higher education costs rising and most new jobs requiring some level of postsecondary education, still more Americans are likely to finance their education with student loans, then spend years — decades, in some cases — paying off the balances.
The Lumina Foundation, which has a goal of increasing the proportion of Americans with college educations to 60% by the year 2025, understands how big this problem is. Which is why, among groups, it's been supporting the Institute for College Access and Success in recent years. The latest grant from Lumina to this Oakland-based outfit is for $500,000, a very nice chunk of change for any group, but especially a relatively small shop like TICAS.
TICAS will use the funding for its Project on Student Debt initiative, which is active in designing and advocating policies at the federal level to make college more affordable, especially for low-income students.
TICAS has been an active player in the fight to increase college affordability and reduce student loan debt. The organization has successfully pushed some colleges and universities to change financial aid policies to minimize loan debts for low- and moderate-income students. It also successfully lobbied for the Income-Based Repayment and Income Contingent Repayment programs to help ease the burden of repaying student loans.
To say student debt is hot right now would be wrong. It's red hot. And with many funders interested in issues of college access and affordability, coupled with the high profile of the debt issue, organizations with ideas or research to change the U.S.'s crazy "debt-for-diploma" system have numerous funding opportunities.