Thank you for writing. Expanding access to higher education is critical to preserving the American Dream and securing our future, and I appreciate your perspective.
To make college more affordable for millions of middle-class Americans for whom the cost of higher education has become an unbearable burden, my Administration is expanding Federal Pell Grants for students, increasing them to keep pace with inflation in the coming years, and putting the program on strong financial footing. In total, we are doubling funding for the Federal Pell Grant program to help students who depend on it.
To make sure our students do not go broke just because they chose to college, we are making it easier for graduates to afford their student loan payments. Today, about two in three graduates take out loans for college. The average student ends up with more than $23,000 in debt. When this change takes effect in 2014, we will cap a graduate's annual student loan repayments at 10 percent of his or her income.
I'll pause here for a moment. While I have my critiques of the expansion of the Federal Pell Grant, I'll won't go into analysis for the reasons why. I'm more frustrated at this point by two things. First off, why won't these people get off this hogwash, this so-called "average student loan debt" of $23,000? This number has no bearing on the real problem, and it's aggravating to see it regurgitated over and over again. President Obama's staff should be savvy enough to realize how problematic that number is. What bearing does that number have to a person who is drowning in student loan debt? Second, why aren't they talking about solutions for current borrowers? Sadly, they continue to dance around that problem. The letter continues to discuss prospective borrowers and the wonderful future they can look forward to:
To help an additional five million Americans earn degrees and certificates over the next decade, we are revitalizing programming at our community colleges - the career pathway for for dislocated workers and working families across this country. These schools are centers of learning, where students young and old can get the skills and technical training they need for for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
I'll interrupt President Obama's letter writer (who cut out some of the worst paragraphs for this response letter), and say this: uh, what jobs are you talking about? Are you aware of what's happening in the U.S.? Are you aware of what Krugman is writing? If you aren't, check out his recent article about the Great Depression number three - THERE ARE NO JOBS. We're facing cataclysmic problems with employment, and this is the best you can do?
I'll leave the letter at that. I am just as disappointed by this letter as Ms. Tolson. It says absolutely nothing about people who are currently drowning in debt. Indeed, Pres. Obama's primary higher education staffer - Roberto Rodriguez - has failed to respond to our countless letters. I've also sent him email after email after email, imploring him, begging him, to write me back. There is nothing but silence. Here's the last email I wrote to him on July 8, 2010:
Dear Mr. Rodriguez:
I have made countless attempts to write to you at this email address. When I spoke to you directly on several phone calls with the White House in early February, we were all told that this email was the best way to reach you.
I am really at a loss to understand why you have failed to respond to my letters. Moreover, many of my readers - those who are part of the indentured educated class - have sent you several letters too. This is one of the many ways the Administration is ignoring the base of people who put them into office. In fact, I am fast losing hope in the policies you're implementing - they're tepid at best. So you are aware, right-wing think tanks like CCAP have picked up my works on Education Matters. Many of my readers are infuriated by your lack of response to their struggles to pay off their student loans, and these - again - are the people who voted Pres. Obama into office.
If you continue to our ignore our entreaties, I can only assume that the White House only care about the same moneyed elites that were privileged under the previous Administration, and my work will reflect that. Perhaps you and others have become too embedded within the comforts of the beltway - times are desperate, sir, and American citizens, especially those who have sought higher education and are now drowning in student loan debt, deserve a response.
Just so you are aware, my readership on Education Matters jumps dramatically each day.
The latest post is worth reading. It's a testimonial from a mother who has a daughter who nearly died from heart problems and recently received a kidney from her sister. This family is being punished for pursuing higher education, and the mother feels guilty for owning a cell phone. It's highly illuminating. The piece is entitled, "Destroying The Educated American Family, One Member At A Time." Here's the link: http://alleducationmatters.
Thank you in advance for your response.
Ms. C. Cryn Johannsen
Mr. Rodriguez is making an F at the moment. There is absolutely no reason why he cannot respond to my email requests. He owes it to all of us.