HLGU Financial Aid Reps Discuss College Access & Affordability with Members of Congress
Thursday, March 22, 2012
by Carolyn Carpenter
On Tuesday, March 6th, Hannibal-LaGrange University’s Director of Financial Aid, Brice Baumgardner, met with representatives of Congress about the dire need for long-term solutions – versus short-term Band-Aids – for federal student financial aid programs that are critical to ensuring U.S. competitiveness and college access and affordability for low-income students.
“One critical piece to solving the economic recovery puzzle is shoring up federal student aid programs,” said Baumgardner. “Students from low- and moderate-income families depend on this aid as does our nation’s economic future. The President and Members of Congress know this. They must now act with meaningful legislation.”
Baumgardner met with Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer to discuss three major issues: student loan interest rate increases, consumer disclosures, and student aid funding.
Student Loan Interest Rates
On July 1, 2012, the interest rate on subsidized student loans will double, increasing from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. This new rate, which is higher than the current market rate, will increase debt for the borrowers of these need-based loans. This means more students will turn to private loans with lower interest rates and forego important consumer protections that federally subsidized loans offer: deferment, public service loan forgiveness, and generous repayment options. President Obama has offered some temporary relief by suggesting the interest rate not spike for at least another year, but this is at best a temporary fix. A permanent solution to providing low-cost, predictable federal loans to students and parents must become a priority soon.
Student Aid Funding
The Pell Grant is helping more than 9 million of our nation’s low- and middle-income student’s access higher education. Without this grant, it is likely that many of them would not be able to attend college. Properly funding the student aid programs is an investment, not an expense that will create more skilled workers, jobs, and taxpaying citizens. According to Georgetown University’s Center on Education, by 2018, nearly two-thirds of all jobs in the U.S. will require some form of postsecondary education or training.
Award letters are received by millions of students every year to inform them about their financial aid award package and expected educations costs. Transparency and consumer disclosures are critical as families make decisions about financing a college education. While the review of current award letter practices is welcomed, it is best to avoid complete standardization, so that institutions may retain the flexibility to provide information that best suits their students. A single, standardized award letter would be problematic for institutions which are extremely diverse amongst themselves and in the types of students they attract. Standardized terminology and/or elements, rather than entire standardization, is better for students.
Shoring up funding for the future of student aid programs – so that students across the country, regardless of their socioeconomic background, have access to postsecondary education – also ensures the economic future of our nation. The time to act is now.
Contact InformationCarolyn Carpenter
Director of Public Relations