The prospect of carrying for decades a load of student debt hardly encourages advanced learning. On Oct. 26, President Barack Obama took a well-advised step in issuing the “Pay As You Earn” executive order. There are many reasons postsecondary enrollment has increased 22 percent nationwide the past five years. In its recent “Trends in College Pricing” report, the College Board illustrated one of them, noting: “In 2010, the $99,716 median family income for families headed by a four-year college graduate was more than twice the median income for families headed by a high school graduate.”
In short, the demand for higher education is growing along with the value, while college costs are rising faster than inflation. At the same time, family finances have been battered by a poor economy.
Congress approved legislation last year to ease the loan repayment burden. The president’s plan, in effect, expedites that initiative, pushing to have the relief fully in effect in 2012 rather than in 2014. The current law caps monthly payments at 15 percent of income and forgives outstanding loans after 25 years. Obama’s order lowers the cap to 10 percent and loan forgiveness after 20 years.
The president’s plan isn’t novel, and it doesn’t address escalating college costs, the root cause of indebtedness. What it does is promise modest relief, when every last buck counts, to about 1.6 million borrowers.
Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal (Nov. 1)