As Ithaca College announces its lowest percent increase in tuition rates in more than 40 years, loan-burdened college students may also be getting a break from the federal government.
The Obama administration modified the Higher Education Act with Pay as You Earn, a new initiative that will cap monthly student federal loan payments at 10 percent of eligible borrowers’ income. Federal loan debt will be forgiven after 20 years of payment, though the amount forgiven will be counted as taxable income, so the borrowers tax rate may be inflated. While local and national attention to college tuition costs is a promising start to making higher education more accessible, more must be done so students can attend college without taking on the lifelong burden of debt.
That the college administration is celebrating the new $52,300 cost of attendance as a sign of their commitment to making the college more affordable shows the nature of higher education today. If the cost of a private education continues to rise, prospective students may opt for a state school that doesn’t require they go as deeply into debt before they turn 22.
Attaining a degree is a necessity in today’s job market. College administrators and national lawmakers must find ways to make higher education more affordable from the beginning. Programs to help students pay back loans are a helpful first step in the complete education overhaul that is needed to make affordable education a possibility. We must find ways to lower the cost of tuition so students will not need to seek burdensome loans.
Until Americans prioritize equality in education, we will continue to fall short. Our society will be strongest when our brightest, hardest-working students are able to get a quality education without having to sacrifice their dreams or goals for fear that they will be unable to repay student loans after graduation.