Wildfire insurance options and withheld undergraduate transcripts  

in May 19th, 2021

Here's what we emailed out the week of May 19, 2021. Sign up for updates directly in your inbox.

What would you do with your college savings if you received a full scholarship? One Missouri teen decided to pay it forward, by offering his $1,000 savings to a student in need. This short and sweet story warmed our hearts, and we hope it kicks off your Wednesday on a bright note too.


WILDFIRES

With more wildfires comes fewer insurance options, if any

Mon May 10

California has experienced a wild few years when it comes to their wildfires, with 2018 being the deadliest and costliest year to the state. In response, insurers began denying coverage — and no wonder with California wildfires costing insurers more than $24 billion between 2017 and 2018 alone. While home and business owners can turn to the California FAIR Plan for private insurance subsidies for their high-risk properties, a current clause excludes farmers. 

Now, these farmers are at a loss for how to protect their assets in a state where shorter rain seasons, warming temperatures, and drier vegetation (all thanks to climate change) continue to increase wildfire risk. Over 500 farmers in Sonoma and Napa counties have lost coverage, with one farmer sitting on $1 million in uninsured farm equipment. The limited options that do exist are often offered at double or triple the usual rates. 

California farms currently supply half the nation’s fruit and 90% of its nuts, making affordable insurance options for these agriculture resources the number one priority for the California Farm Bureau Federation this year. At the state level, a Senate bill aims to help by including farmers in the aforementioned FAIR plan. It passed by a unanimous vote in April. 

Some additional resources...


EDUCATION

Unpaid bills are keeping millions of students from their careers 

Thu May 13

Years of studying, sleepless nights, and finally your first real job is offered… but you can’t take it. This is the reality for roughly 6.6 million Americans who had their undergraduate transcripts withheld over unpaid fees, barring them from the careers they worked for, promotions, or graduate school. 

Critics call this “transcript ransom,” a policy allowing transcripts to be held over fees of any amount. In Massachusetts, where over 97,000 students are currently affected by this policy, the average cost of their fees are $728, with some continuing to grow. Now students are getting more vocal of what this nationwide policy is costing them.

  • James Smith from UMass Amherst missed his last housing payment while his family was struggling financially. By the time he was able to pay it, late fees and a clerical error charging him for a course he didn’t take made it too expensive to pay, leading him to waste a year repeating college at another school.
  • Gabriel Toro, a UMass Boston student who shared a studio and skipped meals while working multiple jobs all throughout college, was denied his transcript over unexpected fees, including a mandatory commencement fee.
  • Desmond Wright-Glenn, who is now 36, never received his transcript after being trapped in a similar situation. He only just recently got his transcript and began applying for graduate school, a dream he thought would never be possible.

Now, both schools and state governments are looking to end the practice. California became the first state to ban withholding transcripts last year while Massachusetts is currently working on legislation. A number of institutions have already put an end to the practice, such as Southern New Hampshire University where an administrator says they have four filing cabinets filled with degrees awaiting payment.  

Some additional resources... 


ASCII OF THE WEEK
            
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Old MacDonald had a farm ... E-I-E-I-Uh Oh!

Art Credit: JGS