College tuition has just become less of a burden for all students and their families.
President Barack Obama is expected to sign an education bill Tuesday that reforms the federal student loan programs, which will save taxpayers money, make student loans manageable and raise Pell grants. In his weekly Internet address Saturday, Obama stated that through the reform he hopes to achieve his goal for America to “once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by the end of this decade.”
With the passage of this bill and the health care reform the president has garnered two huge victories, effectively quieting his opposition. If you were asking where Obama’s “change” is, you’ve just experienced it.
During this school year, more than 60 percent of students receive some sort of financial aid at USC (which totals around $375 million), and with this bill, both the number of recipients and money available at the university should increase. This is particularly true with federal, private and parent loans, which account for about 33 percent of USC’s financial aid.
The reform, which will be run by the American government, saves taxpayers $68 million dollars by cutting out private banks as middlemen for student loans. No longer will large private banks profit from students who need loans to attend school via fees and high interest rates. No longer will these institutions, with their bureaucratic wastefulness, hinder any future students from receiving a college education.
$40 billion of the money saved will be used to increase both the aid to lower-income students and the amount of Pell Grants offered to students. The cap on Pell Grants is also expected to rise to between $350 and $625 — a small, but important improvement. That amount is the difference between a student having all of his required books and sitting in class looking off of his neighbor’s textbook.
Additionally, the reform also eases the entire loan process for students. A graduate’s repayments will be capped at 10 percent of one’s income for people who get loans after July 1, 2014, and some may receive lower interest rates and higher approval rates. By capping repayments at 10 percent, students will have an easier time paying off their loans, relieving some stress after graduation.
This cap could produce a new freedom of career path as low-paying professions have been avoided by graduates because of high debt. Jobs that are crucial to society, like teaching, could see a resurgence of interest when graduates only have to pay a 10 percent maximum of their income for loans.
With a lower payment requirement, teaching could provide for a livable future, and students could be encouraged to pursue degrees in fields such as art history, math or English. Creativity could also flourish within the education systems as students studying in the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences could explore more thought provoking and critical thinking majors, as they would be less worried about high student loans after graduation.
Any student who wishes to study at a university and receive a diploma should not be discouraged to enroll in classes because of climbing tuition rates. With the education bill, Congress has sidestepped private interest and put the American student first by creating a way to manage the cost of a diploma.
Obama stated that he wants “to make sure our students don’t go broke just because they chose to go to college,” and on Tuesday, the threat of college debt should no longer be at the forefront of students’ minds.
John Gudenzi is a junior majoring in English.