The White House recently released proposals to reform higher education in the United States, including limits on graduate student and parent loans meant to encourage universities to lower their tuition. In a list of education priorities targeting reforms to the Higher Education Act, the White House said Congress should “institute Parent and Graduate PLUS loan limits” to “encourage responsible borrowing.”
The U.S. student loan debt, which reached nearly $ 1.5 trillion as of last year, has become a national epidemic as the cost of higher education continues to rise. According to Forbes.com, the average student loan debt in 2019 is $100,000 or less, causing student debt to be the second highest consumer debt category in the United States. The administration did not elaborate on what limit should be set on graduate student and parent borrowers, but the programs currently allow for borrowing up to the cost of attendance.
The Trump administration’s proposal also suggests consolidating repayment options so that the government would offer just two plans: one standard 10-year fixed plan and one income-driven repayment plan. The latter would limit monthly payments to 12.5 percent of a borrower’s discretionary income and offer loan forgiveness after 15 years.
The White House follows in the steps of Republican lawmakers who say limiting the amount of federal student aid will lead colleges and universities to lower tuition.
Mike Uran, who is the director of Financial aid at St. Cloud State, says that this is a very important question for scholars and the future of universities to ponder. When it comes specifically to St. Cloud State, he says it will probably not affect students directly.
“The student loan capping will not have a significant impact on St. Cloud because our tuition rates are relatively low compared to other schools across the country,” he said, “whatever cap the government decides on will likely be below what the cost of attendance is for St. Cloud.”
Mike Uran explained that St. Cloud state does use two of the loan programs: Parent Plus, which is for parents to borrow money on behalf of their children, and the Graduate Plus, which is for graduate students. St. Cloud State, as of last year, had 225 parents borrow from the Parent Plus program; totaling $1.7 million dollars in debt. The Graduate Plus program at St. Cloud State had only 8 students borrow from that program, which is not a lot compared to other universities.
Mike Uran also explained that when students invest in their future and actually earn a degree, it is well worth the debt the student had racked up while in school.
“Graduates who earn a degree, are successful in repaying their student loans and statistics show that that investment in their career is well worth it and their life time earnings are many times over what they would be without that degree. So the real success comes from maintaining your GPA and really investing in what career path that student wants to take.”
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