Families that struggle with college costs need help. Fortunately, they had friend in Washington over the last eight years — Barack Obama.
The President and his wife are the first couple in the White House to have borrowed for college. Coming from families of modest means, they borrowed a lot, so much that they paid off their college debts just four years before entering the White House. “When we married we got poor together,” the President once said, “we added up our liabilities and there were a lot . . . basically in the form of student loans.”
So although Congress did little on student aid, President Obama’s administration created several helpful initiatives:
- Federal Direct Loans. The President’s lone student aid success in Congress established the government, not banks, as the primary maker of student loans. It simplified federal student loans, reduced corruption, and redirected billions in subsidies from bankers to students.
- Grant Funding. Going to Federal Direct Loans made $36 billion available for Federal Pell Grants. The maximum grant grew from $4,310 in 2007-08 to $5,815 in 2016-17.
- PAYE and REPAYE. The President began the Pay As You Earn and Revised Pay As You Earn programs, which limit what college borrowers must repay to 10% of their discretionary incomes, and forgives what they still owe after as few as 20 years.
- Aid Application Process. The administration made the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) available in October, not January, and began collecting “prior-prior” tax year data on it. So students now know what their federal student aid will be as they narrow their college choices. Also, families can now tell the IRS to load key numbers directly onto their FAFSAs, and they now have more time to verify their FAFSA data. All this makes applying for financial aid easier.
- Higher Education Consumer Protection. The White House’s College Scorecard and Financial Aid Shopping Sheet provide easy-to-compare cost, financial aid, and outcome data about colleges students might attend. The President’s Student Aid Bill of Rights requires that aid recipients get reliable information, quality customer service, fair treatment, and effective complaint resolution. He also got the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau up and running, helping to protect student borrowers.
So thank you, President Obama! You made college more affordable and reduced barriers to financial aid. Millions benefitted from your efforts, and our country is better off for them!
If you want to contact College Affordability Solutions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (512) 366-5354.