“The surest ticket to the middle class” – this is how President Obama described a college degree. Its importance, he complained, is only matched by its expensiveness. In his weekly address today, the president stressed the fact that, during his office, the government has worked intensely towards making college more affordable.
This Saturday address comes on the background of a week focused on education: on Tuesday, Obama spoke to students at Georgia Tech about his plans for reforming the student loan system. He has promised to sign a “student aid bill of rights” and to create a better system, within the Education Department, of managing and responding to loan-related complaints until July 1, 2016. He also assured the students that he will take into consideration the changing of laws and regulations, in order to protect future borrowers.
On the same day (March 10), Barack Obama signed a memorandum urging the government to change the loan repayment conditions into easier and fairer ones. With 40 million Americans having acquired student loans, which are nearly $30,000 on average, the United States is among the countries with the most expensive college education in the world. As the number of students and academics voicing their discontent in critical articles that describe poverty and injustice increases week by week, the authorities seem to have realized that there is a real and acute problem with financing the education system. Over 70% of US students who finish a Bachelor degree have student debts. Obama wants to improve the conditions of managing the returning of these debts.
The president said that it is very important to make sure that high-interest loans are paid first, before low interest ones. He also insisted on the clarity and simplicity of money-related information in the loaning contract, especially on the clarity of repayment options. He added that there should be a “reasonable timeline”, as well as reasonable fees, for helping those who fall behind with payment get back on track.
The projected “Student Aid Bill of Rights” should declare, according to Obama, everyone’s right to “affordable, quality” higher education, with affordable loan repayment plans. Loan-providing companies should be monitored to make sure they offer fair treatment to borrowers.
image source: Voice of America