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  • Higher Ed | NJPIRG
    have affinity partnerships with almost 900 campuses nationwide grafting bank products onto student IDs and other campus cards to become the primary recipient of billions in federal financial aid to distribute to students Read more about Banks Skim Millions In Fees From Student Aid Using Debit Card Linked Student IDs Report NJPIRG Law Policy Center Financial Reform Higher Ed The Campus Debit Card Trap Banks and other financial firms are taking advantage of a variety of opportunities to form partnerships with colleges and universities to produce campus student ID cards and to offer student aid disbursements on debit or prepaid cards Read more about The Campus Debit Card Trap News Release NJPIRG Higher Ed Senate Fails to Delay Interest Rate Hike That Threatens College Affordability Would Lead to 20 Increases in Cost of College Next Year In the wake of a failed Senate vote the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group NJPIRG released a joint report on the looming threat of a major hike in the federal student loan interest rate If Congress fails to act by July 1 the interest rate for Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan will double rising to 6 8 percent 7 4 million American students will see the interest rates on their student loans double effectively raising the average cost of college by over 1 000 for millions of students and their families Read more about Senate Fails to Delay Interest Rate Hike That Threatens College Affordability Would Lead to 20 Increases in Cost of College Next Year Report NJPIRG Higher Ed The Cost of College Will Soar if Interest Rates Allowed To Double More than 7 million students and their families rely on Subsidized Stafford Loans to help pay for college The loans distributed by the U S Department of Education currently hold an interest rate of 3 4 percent But that rate is set to double if Congress fails to act by July 1 2012 If that occurs millions of students will see their interest rates soar to 6 8 percent on the new loans they take in the next year thereby causing a steep rise in their loan burden and effectively increasing the cost of attaining a college degree Read more about The Cost of College Will Soar if Interest Rates Allowed To Double Media Hit Higher Ed The New Student Battle Cry Don t Double My Rate The media and the country are just waking up to the alarming fact that unless Congress acts by July 1 the interest rate on subsidized Stafford student loans will double from 3 4 percent to 6 8 percent Congress must not let that happen Read more about The New Student Battle Cry Don t Double My Rate Resource Budget Consumer Protection Democracy Financial Reform Food Health Care Higher Ed Safe Energy Solid Waste Tax Transportation Ed s Blog Nuclear Power and the Threat to Drinking Water In the United States 49 million Americans receive their drinking water from surface sources located within 50 miles of

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/topics/higher-ed (2016-04-29)
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  • Issue Brief: Student Loan Debt in New Jersey | NJPIRG
    27 610 per borrower Unfortunately student loan borrowers in New Jersey will be hit with higher loan costs on July 1 which translates into an additional 928 in cost per student per loan Meanwhile as students are struggling with high costs the federal government is collecting massive shortsighted revenue from student loan borrowers projected at 50 billion for next year alone Student Debt and Its Impact on the Economy Last April at 1 trillion student loan debt surpassed credit card debt as the top form of consumer debt across the country Such significant debt has serious implications for the economy in New Jersey and elsewhere For instance if the low 3 4 percent rate gets extended this year s student loan borrowers in New Jersey would save a combined 134 491 328 which could be spent in the consumer economy rather than being applied toward paying down debt Strengthening the New Jersey Job Market The New Jersey job market is experiencing a skills gap between the number of people without jobs and the skills employers are looking for in their employees By 2020 66 percent of the jobs in the state will require a certificate or a degree while only 46 percent of the current population has one Keeping the interest rate at 3 4 percent on student loans will send an urgent signal to students workers and the unemployed to get the postsecondary training needed to adapt to new economic realities New Jersey s Senator Senator Bob Menendez has supported students and the economy in New Jersey Last year Senator Menendez voted for both the first and final rate extension plans Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse Of Antibiotics Stop the Highway Boondoggles Democracy For The People Label GMO Foods Making Health Care Work Protecting Consumers Toxic

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/reports/njp/issue-brief-student-loan-debt-new-jersey (2016-04-29)
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  • Prescription For Danger | NJPIRG
    regulated like the pharmaceutical industry Due to this lack of oversight many compounding pharmacies have not adhered to safe manufacturing practices and shown little regard for consumer safety In the FDA warning letters the most frequent violations cited included misbranding drugs producing unapproved new drugs producing drugs under unsanitary conditions repackaging sterile drugs and using unapproved potentially unsafe ingredients Some of the most egregious violations by compounding pharmacies included In 2002 consumers complained about arthritis pain relief injections from Lee Pharmacy in Fort Smith Arkansas The FDA analyzed the injections and found they were all contaminated with pennicillium rugulosum a fungus that can cause death In 2009 Hopewell Pharmacy in Hopewell New Jersey was found to be using a solvent called diethylene glycol monoethyl ether in sterile injections used for the treatment of varicose veins This ingredient is not approved by the FDA for use in drug manufacturing and is normally used in industrial cleaners In 2005 University Pharmacy in Salt Lake City Utah was investigated because a 25 year old woman lapsed into a coma and died from using Photocaine a topical anesthetic cream produced by the pharmacy without the approval of the FDA RECOMMENDATIONS FOR POLICY MAKERS The FDA must be given the power to regulate compounding pharmacies that produce drugs in high volume These pharmacies are acting as pharmaceutical manufacturers and should play by the same rules as pharmaceutical companies Consumers must be able to rely on the safety of their drugs regardless of where they are produced RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CONSUMERS Before any clinical or surgical treatment talk to your doctor about the drugs that are going to be used and if they are compounded If they are compounded drugs ask your doctor if an FDA approved drug is available and appropriate for your treatment instead If

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/reports/njp/prescription-danger (2016-04-29)
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  • A New Direction | NJPIRG
    23 percent fewer miles on average in 2009 than they did in 2001 a greater decline in driving than any other age group The severe economic recession was likely responsible for some of the decline but not all Millennials are more likely to want to live in urban and walkable neigh borhoods and are more open to non driving forms of transportation than older Americans They are also the first generation to fully embrace mobile Internet connected technolo gies which are rapidly spawning new transportation options and shifting the way young Americans relate to one another creating new avenues for living connected vibrant lives that are less reliant on driving If the Millennial led decline in per capita driving continues for another dozen years even at half the annual rate of the 2001 2009 period total vehicle travel in the United States could remain well below its 2007 peak through at least 2040 despite a 21 percent increase in population If Millennials retain their current pro pensity to drive less as they age and future generations follow Enduring Shift driving could increase by only 7 percent by 2040 If unexpectedly Millennials were to revert to the driv ing patterns of previous generations Back to the Future total driving could grow by as much as 24 percent by 2040 All three of these scenarios yield far less driving than if the Driving Boom had continued past 2004 Driving declines more dramatic than any of these scenarios would result if future per capita driving were to fall at a rate near that of recent years or if an nual per capita reductions continue through 2040 Regardless of which scenario proves true the amount of driving in the United States in 2040 is likely to be lower than is assumed in recent government forecasts This raises the question of whether changing trends in driving are being adequately fac tored into public policy Figure ES 3 Recent Official Forecasts of Vehicle Travel Compared to Range of Scenarios 1946 2040 U S DOT U S Department of Transportation STIFC Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission U S EIA U S Energy Information Administration The recent reduction in driving has already delivered important benefits for the nation while raising new challenges Future driving trends will have major implications for transportation policy and other aspects of American life Traffic congestion has fallen According to data from the Texas Transportation Institute Americans spent 421 million fewer hours stuck in traffic in 2011 than they did in 2005 Further reductions in driving could lead to additional easing of congestion without massive investments in new highway capacity as long as roads are maintained in a state of good repair America is less dependent on oil In 2011 gasoline consumption for trans portation hit a 10 year low Further reductions in driving consistent with the Ongoing Decline scenario coupled with expected vehicle fuel economy improvements could result in the nation using half as much gasoline or other fuels in our cars and

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/reports/njp/new-direction (2016-04-29)
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  • Picking Up the Tab 2013 | NJPIRG
    taxes over three years by using sophisticated accounting tricks to artificially shift its income to tax friendly Puerto Rico All told Microsoft keeps 60 8 billion offshore on which it would owe 19 4 billion in U S taxes that is 70 percent of the company s cash It maintains five tax haven subsidiaries Citigroup maintains 20 subsidiaries in tax havens and has 42 6 billion sitting offshore on which it would owe 11 5 billion in taxes according to its most recent SEC filing Citigroup currently ranks 8th for most money sitting offshore among U S multinationals The bank was also bailed out by taxpayers during the financial meltdown of 2008 60 of the largest U S multinational companies account for 1 3 trillion of the estimated 1 7 trillion parked offshore by all U S companies That 1 3 trillion is 40 percent of the 60 companies total revenue according to a Wall Street Journal analysis Ten of the companies moved more cash offshore in 2012 than they earned in profits for the year To restore fairness to the tax system by preventing corporations and wealthy individuals from avoiding taxes through the use of tax havens policymakers should End incentives to shift profits offshore End the ability of U S multinational corporations to indefinitely defer paying U S tax on the profits they attribute to their foreign entities Instead they should pay U S taxes on them immediately Double taxation is not an issue because the companies already subtract any foreign taxes they ve paid from their U S tax bill This reform would raise nearly 600 billion in revenue over the next decade Reject a territorial tax system Tax haven abuse would be worse under a system in which companies could temporarily shift profits to tax haven countries pay minimal tax under those countries laws and then bring the profits back to the United States without paying any U S tax A territorial tax system would add 130 billion to the deficit over the next decade Close the most egregious offshore loopholes Eliminate the incentive for U S companies to transfer intellectual property e g patents trademarks licenses to shell companies in tax haven countries for artificially low prices and then pay inflated fees to use them in the United States This common manipulation masks what would otherwise be U S taxable income This deception can be prevented by implementing stricter transfer pricing rules with regard to intellectual property Treat the profits of publicly traded foreign corporations that are managed and controlled in the United States as domestic corporations for income tax purposes Stop the ability of multinational companies to manipulate how they define their corporate status to minimize their taxes Companies should be required to make consistent claims about their type of corporate entity instead of maximizing their tax advantage by telling different countries inconsistent claims about what type of entity they are Close the swap loophole which allows companies that receive swap payments from the

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/reports/njp/picking-tab-2013 (2016-04-29)
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  • The CFPB is 4 years old and has a lot to show for it! | NJPIRG
    CFPB enforcement activity including 2 6 billion in restitution to consumers and 7 5 billion in principal reductions cancelled debts and other consumer relief 17 Million Consumers who will receive relief because of CFPB enforcement actions 650 000 Complaints CFPB has received as of June 2015 Although the Four years blog entry has a lot of information about the CFPB I recommend that people read a speech Director Cordray gave late last year where he clearly articulates the CFPB s strategic vision First he explained the scope of the CFPB s work Whatever you may think of government regulation it cannot work to oversee only part of the marketplace and leave other parts untouched Some nonbank firms were overseen at the state level but the resulting system was inconsistent and incomplete Our aim and our duty is to change that Accordingly Congress gave the Bureau regulatory supervisory and enforcement authorities to fix these parallel and conflicting worlds of the banks and the nonbanks This means that we can write the rules We enforce those rules and all federal consumer financial laws And we supervise entities we conduct internal examinations visit institutions require reports from them and open up their books and operations to scrutiny He then went on to describe a key focus of the CFPB s work in solving obstacles to consumer justice and dignity that he called the 4 Ds Robert F Kennedy once said The challenge of politics and public service is to discover what is interfering with justice and dignity for the individual here and now and then to decide swiftly upon the appropriate remedies Over our brief lifespan the Consumer Bureau has observed some obstacles that interfere with justice and dignity for consumers obstacles that we refer to as the four Ds They are problems we see much too often deceptive marketing debt traps dead end markets and discrimination Perhaps the problems posed by three of these obstacles are clear deceptive marketing debt traps and discrimination But what is a dead end market A dead end market is where consumers have no choices where they cannot vote with their feet A consumer can pick a new bank or credit union or even choose a payday lender But a consumer has no choice when it comes to credit bureaus powerful gatekeepers to financial and employment opportunity And a consumer has no choice when it comes to dealing with a debt collector especially one that s a murky debt buyer trying to collect an old debt it purchased from some other debt collector The CFPB s first monthly complaint report released at AFR s event last week listed Equifax 1 and Experian 2 These big credit bureaus led all types of financial firms in total complaints We have seen the CFPB make important strides in bring the credit bureaus to heel in particular by urging them a rule was not even necessary just a suggestion to fully comply with the law by sharing consumer provided backup materials

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/blogs/eds-blog/usp/cfpb-4-years-old-and-has-lot-show-it (2016-04-29)
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  • How the CFPB’s Data Keeps Getting Better and Better | NJPIRG
    of our report to CFPB Director Richard Cordray at an Americans for Financial Reform CFPB birthday event Dodd Frank at 5 The Consumer Bureau at 4 In prepared and oral remarks Director Cordray discussed the power of the database and gave us a shout out If we can help spur competition based on consumer satisfaction this has the potential to improve the functioning transparency and efficiency of the financial marketplace We have seen how PIRG and others are already beginning to scorecard companies based on this data and we want to encourage more of that At this event Director Cordray and Darian Dorsey Chief of Staff for the CFPB s Office of Consumer Response also announced that the bureau was launching a new monthly report of their own summarizing the number of complaints and the worst companies in the database Ms Dorsey s at left announcement was the second big improvement this year by the CFPB based on our recommendations In June the CFPB began publishing the written descriptions of consumer complaints in the database Having access to these stories will make future analysis of the data more robust as explained further in our news release last month Following the presentations by Director Cordray and Darian Dorsey an expert panel o f AFR members discussed the work of the CFPB It included Nancy Zirkin of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Lauren Saunders of the National Consumer Law Center Mike Calhoun of the Center for Responsible Lending Pam Banks of Consumers Union and Ruth Susswein of Consumer Action Watch the AFR website Events tab at top A video of the CFPB at 4 event should be posted soon Consumer Protection Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse Of Antibiotics Stop the Highway Boondoggles Democracy For The People

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/blogs/blog/usp/how-cfpb%E2%80%99s-data-keeps-getting-better-and-better (2016-04-29)
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  • The More I Hear About OPM Data Breach, The Less I Know, Except This: It's Bad | NJPIRG
    systems in violation despite hosting among the most critical and sensitive applications owned by the agency MYTH You Can Count On Credit Monitoring As I often point out free credit monitoring for a limited time is the sop offered by virtually every breached entity to every victim but the security freeze is better Keep in mind that besides credit monitoring s inherent flaws and limits as far as I know they ve only offered it to federal employee victims and their spouses partners but not to all the references friends neighbors who were interviewed for the victim s security clearance and whose information may have also been breached While information collected on these persons may not be as detailed it is certainly enough to make them potential victims of phishing and social engineering scams REALITY Not Only Is Credit Monitoring Inadequate the Government s Contractor Is Doing A Bad Job Senator Mark Warner VA has been very critical of credit monitoring vendor CSID and its subcontractors As the Washington Post explains Looking for help after the federal employee hack Prepare to spend a few hours on hold The Post quotes Senator Warner Information has come to light that raises questions about OPM s awarding of this 20 million contract to CSID and whether CSID has the expertise and capacity to provide the services for which it was contracted Warner said in a letter sent Friday to Archuleta Meanwhile over at her CDT blog Nuala O Connor explains Why the OPM Data Breach is Unlike Any Other Some excerpts The scope of the recent hack of the Office of Personnel Management OPM in which the records of millions of current and former federal employees were breached is exponentially greater than the many other recent headline generating breaches in the private sector This breach not only impacts government employees but countless of their partners associates and confidantes and the stolen information includes some of the most intimate personal details about the individuals affected She goes on to explain that the government has failed to follow common sense data management best practices As critical as encryption is to cybersecurity it would not have stopped the OPM breach but data retention limits might have mitigated the extent of it The agency reportedly was holding data on individuals from as far back as 1985 Further government agencies are not following the very same level of rigor of the security guidelines and practices often applied by other government agencies and commissions to the private sector Finally she echoes one of our own greatest concerns Instead of narrowing the scope of consumer harms that are actionable in privacy breaches as nearly very breach notice proposal before Congress would we need to recognize a broader panoply of harms Beyond this a breach of this magnitude should call into question how we define harm and the types of remediation available to individuals Credit monitoring and identity theft resources may have little utility for those whose data was breached especially

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/blogs/eds-blog/usp/more-i-hear-about-opm-data-breach-less-i-know-except-its-bad (2016-04-29)
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