Everyone seems to agree (though there are conflicting theories on why) that attaining a college education is crucial for landing the job you want. More and more students are enrolling at 4-year universities, and the racial and ethnic makeup of college graduates is getting decidedly more diverse. In 2012, a record one third of 25-29 year olds in the United States have completed a bachelor’s degree. Between 2009 and 2019, enrollment in postsecondary institutions is expected to increase by 15%, despite the rising cost of tuition. This means that more students will be in more debt upon graduation.
It’s hard to lay the blame in one direction. Tighter state budgets which resulted in higher tuitions (which could be raised with little to no repercussions), the gradual shift from responsibility of payment from government to families as federal programs were slashed and cut — are all contributing factors. Though President Obama stressed the need for affordability in education in his January 2012 State of Union address, he has done little to push the cause. In fact, ten months later, he cut access to Pell Grants by 33%.
In 2012, the Student Loan Forgiveness Act (H.R. 4170) offered a solution — a 10 for 10 deal, 10 years of timely payments of 10% of one's discretionary income, and then the remainder of your loans would be forgiven. The bill died. Fortunately, lawmakers haven't quit trying. Five days ago, Representative Karen Bass reintroduced the 10 for 10 plan in H.R. 1330, The Student Loan Fairness Act. The bill also includes caps on federal interest rates and refinancing for private borrowers.
Unfortunately, the bill was referred to committee, which means it has very little chance of being passed. Sadly, it seems that the Obama administration is just not prioritizing education.