Solutions differ on student loan reform

With the cost of attending college now topping $50,000, many people are relying upon loans to fund their education, especially at private universities like Boston College. But with the United States economy still in economic turmoil, many politicians have given voice to the possibility of lessening the availability of federal student loans.

In President Obama’s second State of the Union Address on Feb. 12, he called upon the institutions of higher education in our country to keep their costs down.  If his proposed changes to the Higher Education Act were to be passed, universities that failed to do so would be less likely to receive federal money to give to their students. Though this seems counter-intuitive, it is part an effort to make federal loans less of a necessity in the first place. "If you can't stop tuition from going up, then the funding you get from taxpayers each year will go down," Obama said in 2012. He has, however, proposed boosting federal grant programs.

(Opinion: College debt will kill you or your dreams)

Shortly after the State of the Union, the Obama administration unveiled the “College Scorecard,” which aims to aid students and parents in determining "where you can get the most bang for your educational buck." BC’s cost of attendance is unsurprisingly listed as “high,” but there is value listed in the high graduation rate of 90.8 percent and the loan default rate of graduates is listed as 11.2 percent less than the national average. According to the scorecard, BC graduates pay on average slightly over $200 a month on their loans, which is described as a “medium” amount of borrowing as compared to the national average. Visit the site to see all rankings and listed values.

 

BC's numbers. Courtesy of whitehouse.gov.

The administration hopes that the College Scorecard will help college applicants be informed before choosing a school that would require them taking out potentially tens of thousands of dollars in loans. Notably, the GOP has also echoed this position. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who gave the Republican response to the State of the Union, co-sponsored the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act in 2012, which aimed to create a database that would have been essentially the same as the College Scorecard.

(Unemployment for young adults likely to remain high)

Student loans are still a pertinent issue for even veteran members of Congress—2011 financial disclosure forms revealed that 46 Congressmen had yet to pay all of theirs off. It is perhaps ironic, then, that Congress has seriously considered doubling the interest rate on federal loans to 6.8 percent, though no measures have yet passed.

Without federal loans, a college degree would be an impossible dream for many, but it seems that future students may have to deal with a different system with different costs than those of today.

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BC's statistics. Courtesy of whitehouse.gov.

 

 

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Erin McGarvey