Obama announces Student Aid Bill of Rights

By Pat Gareau

Editor-in-Chief

Since taking office in 2009, President Obama has initiated a series of policies to reduce the amount of debt that students take on to pay for college. The latest is a Student Aid Bill of Rights, which is composed of principles that the administration believes should guide future policies. The rights listed are as follows:

 


  • Every student deserves access to a quality, affordable education at a college that’s cutting costs and increasing learning.   

  • Every student should be able to access the resources needed to pay for college.
  • Every borrower has the right to an affordable repayment plan.
  • And every borrower has the right to quality customer service, reliable information, and fair treatment, even if they struggle to repay their loans.

     

In a conference call with student media outlets from around the country, President Obama explained that financial aid was crucial to his success. “We wouldn’t be here where we are if we hadn’t gotten grants and loans and work-study,” said Obama about himself and the First Lady.

“A college education is the surest ticket to the middle class,” said Obama.

United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was also on the conference call. He believes Obama will be remembered for expanding access to the education system. “I think when he’s done, a big part of his legacy will be improving the country’s education,” said Duncan.

The federal government will start acting on these policies by reforming the executive branch with regard to how student loans are handled. Some of these actions include the creation of an online student feedback system and raising standards for debt collectors in disclosing consumer protection laws.

While the Obama administration has been attempting to use federal resources to make college manageable for students, including a proposal for everyone to have two free years of community college, the Republicans in Congress have shown opposition.

The House of Representatives, which is controlled by a Republican majority, passed a budget last week that freezes the maximum Pell Grant for the next ten years. Although the budget is unlikely to be passed into law, because Obama would have to sign it, the differences between the two parties on student financial aid are clear.

Many initiatives that the Obama administration is pursuing within the context of the priorities in the Student Aid Bill of Rights would have to pass through congress, including the free tuition at community colleges proposal.

 

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