Bill may increase college costs

Emma Jarnagin, Staff Writer

A rewrite of the Higher Education Act threatens to make college more expensive for working families.

On Dec. 1, 2017, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled H.R. 4508, a rewrite of the Higher Education Act.

The new bill will favor people of higher incomes who are taking out loans to pay for school, according to a document summarizing the act created by the Committee on Education and Workforce Democrats.

H.R.4508 would increase the percent of income remaining after taxes used to repay student loans, install a minimum for monthly payments on loans, and there would be limited loan forgiveness, stated the document.

This rewrite would make college more expensive for working families, according to the committee.

Sophomore Sam Moran says working families are already unfairly targeted by the higher education system.

“Making people pay more for a service that is so integral for their future and their potential career not only seems unjust, but cruel and unnecessary,” she said.

This would require low-income borrowers to use more of their “take home pay” on loan repayment, the committee stated.

This increase on loan repayment will create more problems for families and students already struggling with student loan debt, the committee stated.

Although the legislation nearly doubles the federal allocation for the Federal Work-Study program and changes the formula used to allocate money to participating institutions, the bill eliminates all other campus-based aid programs

While many students make enrollment decisions based on advertising and recruiting efforts, colleges have been banned from paying any sort of commission or bonuses to their employees based on enrollment since 1922, the committee stated.

The bill creates two loopholes to this ban. The first allows institutions to pay a third party based on the number of students the third party enrolls. The second allows institutions to pay commissions to recruiters based on enrollment.

“This [legislation] is really about a disinvestment in America’s students and their success opportunities,” President Tom Sullivan stated in a Jan. 16 VT Digger Article.

By reducing how much money parents can take out for a loan, it becomes more expensive for students, stated Champlain College president Donald Lackman in the article.

The committee stated that the bill bases the availability of loan forgiveness on the amount repaid, which places families that need more time to repay their loans at a disadvantage.

It will take borrowers much more time to reach loan forgiveness, stated the committee, and this would have a disproportionate impact on very low income individuals.  

“It could take a low-income borrower with just $30,000 in student loan debt 138 years in repayment before qualifying to have his or her loan forgiven,” stated the committee.

The changes to IBR ensure that upper income borrowers receive the greatest benefit from a bill intended to help low-income borrowers.