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  • Divided lawmakers stepped up to freeze student loan rate | WISPIRG Students
    On our current trajectory we won t make that goal in fact we ll miss it by 3 million workers Here in Wisconsin the job market is experiencing a gap between the numbers of people without jobs and the skills employers are looking for in their employees If we keep graduating students at the current rate that students are graduating then by 2020 64 percent of the jobs in the state will require a certificate or college degree but only 40 percent of the population will have one Keeping the interest rate low on student loans sends the urgent signal to students workers and the unemployed to get the postsecondary training needed to adapt to new economic realities Student loan debt recently surpassed credit card debt as the top form of consumer debt across the country at 1 trillion Such significant debt is a serious drag on the economy The vast majority of student loans are federal with eight in 10 backed by the federal government Extending the low rate in Wisconsin translates into close to 160 million in savings that student loan borrowers can now put toward buying a house or starting a family once they graduate Federally freezing the rate at 3 4 percent did not come cheap Congress had to find 6 billion to pay for it Facing intense media scrutiny and hundreds of thousands of emails phone calls and petitions from students families and borrowers across the country find it they did Given the tough budget environment in Washington D C right now this was no small feat Passage of the one year extension is an important step toward making college more affordable But colleges and state and federal lawmakers will need to do more over the next year to ensure that students aren t plunged deeper into debt The lingering national recession has led to weak state economies which in turn have squeezed college budgets across the country That has resulted in tuition hikes and fee increases which translate into more student loan debt and the situation is not going to improve in the near term Wisconsin has not escaped this reality The average Wisconsin undergraduate with student loans leaves school with more than 24 000 in debt Next year Congress will need to come up with a longer term fix to the interest rate on subsidized Stafford student loans now scheduled to double on July 1 2013 In addition if Congress cannot stop the 1 2 trillion in automatic spending cuts scheduled for Jan 1 students face looming cuts to the Pell grant program a cornerstone financial aid program which gives scholarship aid to students according to need These problems if not addressed will make student loan debt skyrocket Higher education in Wisconsin and across the U S continues to be vital for both individual success and the nation s social and economic health Students and workers are struggling in today s economy Our leaders deserve praise for the interest rate freeze They delivered

    Original URL path: http://www.wispirgstudents.org/media/wi/divided-lawmakers-stepped-freeze-student-loan-rate (2016-04-29)
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  • Green group sows lesson in environmental conservation | WISPIRG Students
    warming and harming public health noting that each megawatt hour of electricity generated in Wisconsin produces 1 726 pounds of carbon dioxide the leading greenhouse gas driving climate change Our education and service efforts will reduce energy use in the communities and serve as a catalyst for greater energy savings in the long run Speight said The 255 000 yearlong AmeriCorps grant which provides education awards to participants completing a term of service harnesses that collective college student energy to promote change said Amy Parks who serves as a campus organizer and is one of four program leaders who are based in Milwaukee Eau Claire Oshkosh and Madison The cool thing about organizing with the college students is by giving them events we are creating a sense of social awareness and community involvement she said So far the more than 40 college students who conduct energy conservation lessons at schools throughout the state have educated more than 5 000 K 12 students on how energy works and how to decrease energy consumption This fit in well with our science curriculum on energy said Nancy Haberli a second grade teacher at Elm Dale Elementary School in Greenfield the site of one recent session The amount of knowledge my students gained was incredible It was very interactive and exciting for the kids We can all do more to conserve energy Along with the schools students also have assessed dozens of Wisconsin homes giving homeowners free tips on how to live efficiently and reduce energy costs There were things we weren t aware of like unplugging appliances when they re not in use said Diane Kavalauskas of Shorewood who recently had a one hour home assessment I never had thought of doing that There are many Wisconsin residents who remain in the dark

    Original URL path: http://www.wispirgstudents.org/media/wi/green-group-sows-lesson-environmental-conservation (2016-04-29)
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  • Students Lose When Financial Aid Goes Onto Fee-Laden Debit Cards | WISPIRG Students
    school logo they re liable to think that the card and the account are sanctioned by the school They re not going to immediately assume Oh this is the bank that offered my school the most money to issue us debit cards When it comes to banks students are likelier to stick with that institution even after they graduate because switching banks is such a hassle Ideally they d be able to select a bank and an account based on their own needs PIRG says the school should be looking out for students best interests not their own bottom lines But in reality the study says that s what happens Although colleges and banks tend to keep their contracts pretty close to the vest the report offered one telling example In a contract with Ohio State University Huntington Bank agreed to pay the school 25 million over 15 years plus lend and invest up to 100 million more in the area around the campus This is big money and PIRG contends too much of this is being earned at students expense Although it s possible for students today to get financial aid via a paper check or direct deposited into another bank account study co author Rich Williams says some institutions make it deliberately difficult for them to do so Getting a paper check may require a wait of as long as a couple of weeks a time frame that simply isn t an option for many students especially those who are lower income To get funds direct deposited students might find that they have to jump through hoops like filling out forms by hand and finding a place where they can send them via fax in order for their request to be processed MORE 6 Common Misconceptions About Financial Aid Roughly 700 of the 900 partnerships are for debit cards attached to a checking account the remainder are prepaid debit cards Williams says Although prepaid debit fees have gotten a lot of attention lately including from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau some of the conventional debit cards are just as bad Multiplying the impact is the fact that some of this financial aid comes in the form of loans which means students are paying interest on the money they re forking over in fees In some cases students are charged 50 cents every time they use their cards to make a PIN based purchase at a retailer an amount that can multiply quickly if the card is their primary access point to their money Williams says a student pays an average of 5 each time they use a non partner ATM to access their funds Higher One although it serves 520 campuses only has 600 ATMs that are fee free for students to use If these machines break down or run out of money which happens before lunchtime on some days right after aid funds are deposited onto the cards students who need their money right away have no

    Original URL path: http://www.wispirgstudents.org/media/sp/students-lose-when-financial-aid-goes-fee-laden-debit-cards (2016-04-29)
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  • Toy Safety Tips | WISPIRG Students
    child Take the batteries out of loud toys or cover the speakers with tape 5 Strangulation Hazards Mobiles Keep mobiles out of the reach of children in cribs and remove them before the baby is five months old or can push him herself up Cords Remove knobs and beads from cords longer than one foot to prevent the cords from tangling into a dangerous loop Drawstrings Clothing with drawstrings on the hood can get caught on fixed objects like playground equipment and pose a strangulation hazard 6 Lead and Other Toxic Chemicals Some children s toys and cosmetics may contain lead or other toxic chemicals including phthalates While most lead and phthalates are being phased out of toys beginning in 2009 older toys may still contain them Toys with PVC Plastic Avoid toys made of PVC plastic which could contain toxic phthalates posing developmental hazards choose unpainted wooden or cloth toys instead Lead The Consumer Product Safety Commission CPSC PIRG and children s health groups have found high levels of lead paint on toys as well as high levels of lead in vinyl lunch boxes and bibs and in children s costume jewelry All lead should be removed from a child s environment especially lead jewelry and other toys that can be swallowed To test jewelry for lead use a home lead tester available at the hardware store or simply throw costume jewelry made with such heavy metals away Other chemicals Read the labels of play cosmetics and avoid products with xylene toluene or dibutyl phthalate Additional Tips Accessorize your kids for safety Toys such as bicycles scooters skateboards and inline skates are safer when children wear protective gear If you plan to give any of these toys as gifts make them safer by also giving a helmet knee pads

    Original URL path: http://www.wispirgstudents.org/resources/toy-safety-tips/sp (2016-04-29)
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  • Trouble in Toyland | WISPIRG Students
    for sale to children under 14 These instead were labeled 4 and up Choking Hazards Choking on small toy parts on small balls on marbles and on balloons continues to be the major cause of toy related deaths and injuries Between 1990 and 2011 over 200 children died from choking incidents This year we found several toys that contained small parts or near small part toys The toys containing small parts contained improper labels and might be mistakenly purchased for children under 3 The toys containing near small parts support our long term principle that the small parts test should be made more protective by making the test cylinder larger We found small cars that included small parts rubber traction bands on wheels Although the toy includes a statutory choke hazard warning and is labeled 4 the tiny label may violate CPSC hazard warning rules We also found several dollar store toys such as a small bowling ball and pin toy set with missing obscured or tiny choke hazard warning labels We also found some toy foods including both near small parts and other rounded ball like foods that would fail the small ball test although they are technically subject to the less stringent small parts test Toy foods poses a special hazard because they look to small children like something that should be eaten Round toy food should be tested as if it is a ball but the CPSC interprets the law differently Noisy Toys Research has shown that a third of Americans with hearing loss can attribute it in part to noise iv The third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that one in five U S children will have some degree of hearing loss by the time they reach age 12 This may be in part due to many children using toys and other children s products such as music players that emit loud sounds v The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders advises that prolonged exposure to noise above 85 decibels will cause gradual hearing loss in any age range vi We found two toys a car driving wheel on a console and a toy guitar on store shelves that exceeded the recommended limit for continuous exposure of 85 decibels We also found one close to the ear toy a cell phone that exceeded the 65 decibel limit when measured with a digital sound level meter Recommendations for Policy Makers Policymakers must ensure that the Consumer Product Safety Commission CPSC is given the resources it needs to effectively protect consumers Policymakers must also continue vigorous oversight of implementation and enforcement of the new law Policymakers should require manufacturers to provide all hazard and health impact information to the state and federal government so agencies can begin to assess the thousands of chemicals currently on the market for which little or inadequate data are available There is overwhelming evidence showing that the Toxic Substances Control Act is failing our most vulnerable consumers pregnant women

    Original URL path: http://www.wispirgstudents.org/reports/trouble-toyland/sp (2016-04-29)
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  • 4 PM ELECTION DAY DISPATCHES FROM THE GROUND | WISPIRG Students
    the days leading up to the election To make sure students stuck out the wait and cast their ballot organizers organized parties at the polls and other creative tactics to entertain students while in line At Indiana University for example student leaders decked out in Poll Champ hats danced around students in line wrote I Voted in red and blue paint on student faces and blew bubbles to create a festive atmosphere The Poll Champs also offered voting help to students with questions and refer those who encountered to an Election Day hotline staffed by attorneys above Student leaders used creative methods to mobilize their peers to the polls and build Election Day Buzz At North Carolina State University student leaders enlisted the help of campus athletes to spread the I Voted message At the University of Wisconsin Madison leaders asked students who just voted to snap a fun photo and text it to all their friends In California CALPIRG New Voters Project leaders summoned the help of the Sun Gods and University of North Carolina students evoked North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall joins NCPIRG student leaders at North Carolina State University in endorsing the New Voters Project and urging students to the polls today New Voters Project About Us Our Leadership Our Mission Accomplishments Local Chapters UW Madison UW Stevens Point Get Involved Action Center Campaign Resources Start a PIRG Chapter Full Time Jobs Campus Internships Volunteer on Campus Campaigns 21st Century Transportation Affordable Higher Education Hunger and Homelessness Make Textbooks Affordable New Voters Project Stop Subsidizing Obesity Don t Get Ripped Off Big Red Go Green Sustainable U Protect Wisconsin s Lakes Energy Service Corps Newsroom Latest Updates Blog News Releases PIRG in the News Multimedia Reports Internships Work on important issues learn valuable skills get

    Original URL path: http://www.wispirgstudents.org/blogs/sp/4-pm-election-day-dispatches-ground/sp (2016-04-29)
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  • Hurricane Sandy Response Toolkit | WISPIRG Students
    coalition with a smaller goal for the amount of money you ll raise in the first week and a larger goal for the total amount of money you want to raise over the course of the semester year Determine which fundraisers you want to organize and which groups individuals will play roles in organizing them You ll need people to work on logistics publicity and volunteer recruitment for each event Step 2 Hold your Fundraiser Here are some ideas for fundraisers Run a Spare Change Drive Collect jars and paste labels for the Spare Change drive on them Put the jars everywhere dorms stores academic departments dining halls etc Ask local and campus cafes and coffee shops to place donation jars by the cash register for people to donate their change Advertise the drive around campus Go door to door Some campus groups have raised thousands of dollars by going door to door in campus apartments or dorms and asking people to donate the change they have around the house on coffee tables jars and in couches Set up a dorm competition American University students organized a dorm penny drive competition Each residence hall had a huge jar in the lobby and residents were urged to toss extra change into the jar In order to increase competition and money raised the organizers added the rule that paper money was subtracted from the total So in order to reduce other hall s points residents put dollar bills in other dorms jars Set up a day when all of the spare change jars will be collected Recruit some volunteers to count of all of change Sponsor a concert Contact local bands and ask them to play a set for your concert Find a venue for the concert We suggest both looking into places on campus many dorms and student unions have rooms that could hold concerts and calling local restaurants bars to find the best event Publicize the event be sure you are telling people where the proceeds are going Put up posters and hand out fliers Ask groups and campus departments to send announcements to their listserves Have members of the coalition text their friends Setup a facebook event Call the campus newspaper and ask them to run a story on the event in advancevi Put the event on the online campus calendar Set up the logistics for collecting the money at the door Organize a raffle Go door to door to local businesses and ask them to donate gift certificates or items for the raffle Find a venue for the raffle drawing We suggest both looking into places on campus many dorms and student unions have rooms that could hold concerts and calling local restaurants bars to find the best event Design and print raffle tickets here s a website http www raffleprinter com Determine the cost of the raffle ticket If you want to sell each ticket for 5 you ll need to sell approximately 215 tickets to raise

    Original URL path: http://www.wispirgstudents.org/resources/sandy-response-toolkit (2016-04-29)
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  • Campus debit cards can carry downsides | WISPIRG Students
    s clothing Williams said Students think they can access their dollars freely but instead their aid is being eaten up in fees Let s look at some of the fees highlighted by the report One bank charges a 28 overdraft fee for each day an account is overdrawn for up to 14 days Students using prepaid debit cards can be charged for reloading or depositing money on the cards at ATMs At one school the reload fee is 4 95 One company charges students 50 cents if they swipe a card with a MasterCard logo choose the debit option and enter their personal identification number They don t get charged the fee if they use the credit option and sign the receipt This type of fee has been particularly controversial Students at Portland State University and Southern Oregon University protested the fee and had it removed Under one deal a student debit cardholder can be charged a 10 fee if another person tries to load money onto the student s card electronically but the transaction is canceled because the other person s bank account has insufficient funds Students can be assessed a fee when they check their balance at an ATM One institution charges 60cents per inquiry This does not include charges potentially assessed by the ATM owner Supporters of the fee structures on these campus card products insist fees are a natural consequence of electronic banking However students can easily find checking accounts available to the general public in the marketplace that are virtually free to use the report says Students can often opt to have their financial aid directly deposited into an account not affiliated with a financial institution working with their college They can get a paper check But inertia and heavy marketing by the financial companies often result in students choosing the cards being pushed under the college backed partnerships Students are not necessarily making their financial choices freely the report says When the college has selected a student ID vendor that incidentally offers additional banking services on the college mascot embellished card the student s choices are limited and the student is under the presumption that the college endorses the provider These deals many of which are not publicly disclosed raise questions that demand answers If students are getting precious grant aid or loans loaded on to their debit cards they shouldn t be nickel and dimed to death with fees U S PIRG recommends that students be presented with options to receive financial aid They should also be able to easily opt out of the university sponsored debit card program through the campus itself rather than having to go to a Web site or though other hurdles I see another investigation for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Although debit cards help make getting money easier we need to make sure students many new to banking aren t paying more than they need to for access to their money Readers can write to Michelle Singletary

    Original URL path: http://www.wispirgstudents.org/media/sp/campus-debit-cards-can-carry-downsides (2016-04-29)
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