By Ashlyn Miller
Student Writer

Many of the important public liberties enjoyed in America are secured with the Bill of Rights. College students dealing with federal loans now have their own special rights, as President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum introducing a new Student Aid Bill of Rights on Tuesday.

The measures could potentially affect the over two million student borrowers in Pennsylvania, who collectively owe over $53 billion in outstanding federal student loan debt.

The proposed bill features four main tenants the president would like to address: the right of students to access a quality and affordable education, access resources needed to pay for college, have an affordable payment plan, and have quality customer service.

These changes are all part of Obama’s continuing efforts to make college education accessible to all Americans. The Student Bill of Rights is his latest action after announcing his goal to eliminate tuition fees for two years of community college at the State of the Union address in January.

In a special press teleconference with student media on Wednesday, Obama reinforced his commitment to issues related to paying for college. “We can’t allow higher education to become a luxury,”said Obama, “A college degree is the surest ticket to getting into the middle class.”

The president was returning from the official announcement of the Bill of Rights, which was held at Georgia Tech.

The location of the announcement was intentional, as Georgia Tech is recognized for its innovative master’s program that “features the same material as an in-person class, but at a third of the cost,“said James Call, a member of the White House staff.

Call, amongst Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and other White House spokespersons answered additional questions on the program from student media on Wednesday.

They emphasized that at the forefront of the proposed measures is the implementation of a state-of-the art online student feedback system to address student complaints related to federal loans, which will go live in July of 2016. There is a strong partnership with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to address the best ways to communicate with students online.

“It will be a one-stop shop for students, [which] will allow students to look at how their issue is being addressed in real time,”said Call.

In addition, the president has asked the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to file a report on Oct. 1 on whether bankruptcy laws should be changed for student loans. This will go hand-in-hand with stricter regulations for banks managing loans.

The bill will also continue work on increasing the amounts offered for Pell Grants, simplifying the Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application process, and reforming the Pay-As-You earn loan, which allows students to cap federal loan payments at 10 percent of their income.

The Pay-As-You earn loan is of particular importance as the number of borrowers using it has tripled, according to Duncan.

While White House staff says the reception to the bill is overwhelmingly positive, Duncan wants students to know that more action is required. The memorandum does not mean the changes go into effect immediately. Congress has not yet voted to give funding to this measure.

“There is no silver bullet [for this issue]. This will require cooperation on the federal level, state level, and university level,”said Obama.

The president and White House staff encourage college students to visit www.whitehouse.gov/collegeopportunity and sign their name if they agree that the Student Bill of Rights should go into action.

“The best thing you can do [to take action] is to vote,”said Duncan, “Education can be an easy thing to cut across the political spectrum. You need to let Congress members know to do otherwise.”

2 Responses to “National Student Aid Bill of Rights Announced in Continued Effort to Make Education Affordable” Subscribe

  1. games educational June 16, 2016 at 9:39 am #

    Useful information. Lucky me I found your site by chance,
    and I am surprised why this coincidence did not happened in advance!
    I bookmarked it.

  2. guarantees September 3, 2016 at 2:14 am #

    As for me, it would be better if our education would be separated from all the political stuff. I thing that isn’t a good thing to let political interests influence our education.

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