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Letter to the editor

Legislators improve financial aid, student debt

October 8, 2009

The election of President Obama brought the promise of a reformed and revitalized student loan industry, one where students are paramount over banks. With a new higher education champion in the White House and an ambitious Congress seeking to make college more affordable, now is the time for a fundamental change in how the federal government funds college aid.

Already, a historic student aid reform bill is making its way through Congress. The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA) will eliminate federal subsidies to banks that offer risky, high-interest loans and put the billions of dollars of savings into the Pell Grant, Perkins Loan, and other student-friendly aid at no new cost to taxpayers. In addition, the bill will simplify the FAFSA, invest in community college development, and promote essential outreach and retention programs. 

It’s about time.

American student borrowers are graduating with an average of $20 thousand in debt annually. This is bad for individuals trying to begin their adult lives already in the black, bad for the nation as graduates spend their precious money on loan repayments instead of growing in the economy, and bad for America internationally as competing nations are graduating more students with less debt every year.

President Obama made it his goal to have America graduate more college students than any other country on earth. For this to be done correctly, Congress must pass the SAFRA and help make education a right for all.

Nikki Shonoiki,
Student and activist