As a rising sophomore at Spelman College, I am honored to attend such a prestigious institution. However, this privilege comes at a troubling high cost. But I still can’t help but fear the numbers. On average, today’s college student will graduate with $26,000 in student loan debt. Not to mention that we’re only talking about undergraduate here. The years it will take to pay off loan debt after graduate or law school on top of that is frightening. I have friends and family members still repaying college loans after decades of working jobs with consistent incomes. This financial burden is troubling. So much so that young people are feeling discouraged to pursue higher level degrees if they cannot receive half or full scholarship.
Yet in this competitive job market, jobs prefer that an employer has acquired some postsecondary education. Not to mention the life experiences and self-discovery that comes with the college journey are truly priceless. We only wish they were more affordable.
College is more expensive now than ever. The President Obama’s Administration has executed extensive efforts to rectify this issue, such as:
- Reforming student aid to promote affordability and value.
- Creating a Race to the Top for college affordability and completion, establish a First in the World competition to model innovation and quality on college campuses.
- Providing better data for families choose the right college for them with the use of a College Scorecard for all degree-granting institutions, designed to provide the essential information about college costs, graduation rates, and potential earnings, all in an easy-to-read format that will help students and families choose a college that is well suited to their needs, priced affordably and consistent with their career and educational goals.
- Delegating Federal support to tackle college costs Bill through increases to the Pell grant, and by shoring up the direct loan and income-based repayment programs.
Thus far President Obama has made effective steps in the right direction. However the Republican majority would rather double tax rates on interest loans to 6.8%. They don’t believe our education should be handed to us on a silver platter. To that I say, trust that educational opportunities are in no way being given to us with quaint pastries and warm tea. We work hard to achieve academic excellent, strong networking opportunities and meaningful, lasting relationships with our professors and peers, hence the reason we even chose to tackle the rigor and challenge that comes with a higher education. Young people who are passionate about learning should not be deterred from receiving a sound education because Republicans demand that we are financially stressed, emotionally torn and fearful of our future.
Yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Richard Cordray and Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz met with the Presidents and leaders from ten colleges and universities who are joining the efforts to provide financial information to all of their incoming students as part of their financial aid package beginning with the 2013-2014 school year. These efforts include:
- How much one year of college will cost
- Financial aid options to pay this cost, with a clear differentiation between grants and scholarships, which do not have to be repaid, and loans, which do
- Net costs after grants and scholarships are taken into account
- Estimated monthly payments for the federal student loans the student would likely owe after graduation
- Vital information about student results, including comparative information about the rates at which students enroll from one year to the next, graduate, and repay their loans without defaulting on their obligations.
In order to continue this commitment, the U.S. Department of Education, coupled with the CFPB, is working to develop a model financial aid award letter, or Financial Aid Shopping Sheet, which colleges and universities can adopt to provide prospective students with the type and amount of aid they qualify for and easily compare aid packages offered by different institutions. I personally am thankful that the Democratic party is looking out for me and students like myself who are uneasy about how we will manage to attend school next semester while every dime is being squeezed out from our loved ones so that we may develop the knowledge and skills we’ll need to succeed in our field of choice.
Join our President and VP in their thoughtful pursuit to better the state of higher education. We believe that everyone has the right to intellectual growth and learning opportunities if they so seek without being deferred by an unmanageable financial load.
Check out the links provided for further understanding on the Democratic Party’s plans for education reform: