by Tiana K. Allen
On March 18, Acting Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr. spoke with the Spartan Echo regarding the Obama Administration’s efforts and plans to guide students to graduation. He touched on school affordability, student loans, and repayment plans. Recently, King has been reaching out to students through the Department of Education’s College Opportunity Across America Tour.
King emphasized that the Obama Administration acknowledges that college access is difficult for low to middle class families and that they have and will continue to work towards fixing that problem.
“Over the past seven years, we have taken unprecedented steps to make college more affordable and to help borrowers manage their student loan debt. While we see promising signs of progress, we know we have work to do to ensure that every borrower in distress has a clear path to avoid default. And I will continue to fight to ensure that students have access to an affordable education that helps them get ahead, rather than drowning in debt,” said King in his introduction to the Quarterly Student Aid report.
According to the report, the percentage of student loan borrowers who defaulted in the first quarter of fiscal year 2016 has went down to 2.3 percent compared to fiscal year 2015’s 2.5 percent. Delinquencies have fallen from 22.2 percent during 2014 to 19.7 percent during 2015. With programs like the Income Driven Repayment Plan and Public Service Loan Repayment Plan, borrowers are finding it easier to repay their loans without financial struggles. The Income Driven Repayment Plan allows borrowers to put a cap on their repayments at 10% of their income without worrying about paying more.
King warned that there are people who look forward to taking advantage of loan borrower’s anxiety. There are several scams that are calling, emailing, and mailing borrowers about debt relief that are soliciting them for their information and even money. The Department of Education wants to inform everyone that you never have to pay for help to manage your student loan debt. This includes lowering or capping your monthly loan payment, seeing if you qualify for forgiveness, consolidating your loans, and getting advice on getting out of default.
As for current and potential borrowers looking for Financial Aid literacy, the Obama Administration is working towards teaching, assisting, and guiding borrowers on managing debt and preparing for loan repayments. However, direct information on Financial Aid literacy is up to institutes. King encourages students to talk with their counselors for the best Financial Aid advice and information. Ajita Menon, the Senior Policy Advisor for Higher Education at the White House Domestic Policy Council, encourages borrowers to look into the Financial Aid Counseling Tool which expands financial literacy and focuses on budgeting.
The Obama Administration has proven effective within the Department of Education’s efforts to make college access and repayments easier for students. The Quarterly Student Aid report addresses the Department’s effectiveness within America’s educational system. They’re goal is to provide transparent information for students and they plan on increasing their transparency to help better inform students on their educational decisions.