Thursday, September 1, 2011

Now Is The Time To Invest in CURRENT Borrowers

Recently, Steve Burd, at Higher Ed Watch, wrote a piece about Pell Grants for 2012 and Senator Sherrod Brown's (D-OH) recent legislation that would allow the department to help borrowers convert FFELP loans into the Direct Loans program. In addition, Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) has introduced a co-companion bill in the House.

I have been a defender of Pell Grants, and have written about the virtues of the program quite a bit. However, I deal with current borrowers and hear how they are struggling to make ends meet. The stories keep pouring in and from all corners of the country. As we know, by June of 2012, outstanding student loan debt will hit a whopping $1 TRILLION. That means there are a lot of folks - I'm guessing millions of folks, not to mention the co-signers - who are knee deep in student loan debt.

So, perhaps we need to shift our priorities, and rethink this defense of Pell (and I'm not suggesting we cut from the budget)? But, really, is this the best way to be using money when there are millions of highly educated folks who are underemployed or unemployed, and struggling to pay off their student loans?

There continues to be an overwhelming focus on prospective students, and that's problematic. (Here's precisely why we must return to DC in late October).

Now is the time for leaders, like Sen. Brown and others, to turn their full attention to those of us who are already drowning in debt. That's the bold step to take, and one of the reasons I am delighted to have Congressman Hansen Clarke in our corner. Struggling student loan debtors are a great concern to him, and I'm getting the sense that he wants to do something bold (more on that later).

Related Links

"Part I: An Earthquake, Hurricane Irene, and AEM's Successful Trip To D.C," AEM (Aug. 30, 2011)

"Document Diary: Deliveries To Folks on the Hill," AEM (Aug. 26, 2011)

"Leaving DC, And Already Planning A Return Trip," AEM (Aug. 26, 2011)


"Pell - Official Statement from Campus Progress," AEM (Aug. 2, 2011)

"More Threats To Pell," AEM (Jul. 20, 2011)

"Save Pell!," AEM (Jul. 16, 2011)

"Point/CounterPoint - Pell Grants," AEM (May 25, 2011)

"Pell Grants [UPDATED April 18, 2011]," AEM (April 15th and April 18, 2011)


Anonymous said...

Where is the link to your package of proposals? (Sorry in advance if I missed it.) Thanks.

Cryn Johannsen said...

@Anonymous 8:01 AM

The proposal is now available to view online. Here's my report about my trip. The name of the proposal is “Higher Education Finance Reform: Accomplishments + Multi-Solution Approach to Truly Tackling the Student Lending Crisis.” It's under the section called "Documents Delivered."