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Is College education harder for Blacks with the Obama Administration?

Roger Caldwell

Is College education harder for Blacks with the Obama Administration?

By Roger Caldwell

      Politicians can make citizens believe anything and this is what keeps them in power. It is very important to evaluate in detail everything they say and not accept their initial statement. Many times buried in the small print on the back page, there is a clause that can hurt or change their initial statement.

     On October 2011, the Obama Administration announced it was taking steps to increase college affordability by making it easier to manage student loan debt. This was a series of executive orders and on the surface these proposals sounded great, and everyone would benefit from these initiatives. The Obama Administration was calling this new program “Pay As You Earn” and it would help 1.6 million students.

     “In a global economy, putting a college education within reach for every American has never been more important. But it’s also never been more expensive. That’s why today we’re taking steps to help 1.6 million Americans lower their monthly student loan payments,” said President Obama.

     Based on the president’s statement it would appear that the president’s executive order is going to help all college students. But at the beginning of the fall semester of 2012, there is a tightening of the evaluation criteria of the federal student loan programs, and it has left thousands of students unable to afford college this year. During October 2011, the U.S. Department of Education changed certain student loan programs by making stiffer student loan requirements.

     Instead of evaluating an applicant credit history over 90 days, they are looking at their credit history over five years. This change is having a devastating impact on HBCU students, because 14,000 Black students were denied federal PLUS loans, and it is also hurting the revenue at these schools. When HBCU’s don’t receive this revenue there is a major hole in their budget and they are forced to cut professors, classes, and administrators.

     “We are going to continue to pursue the legislative process to find a better solution. But if at some point we determine that there is no agreement, than we may have to consider going to the courts. We are not itching for a fight, but we need to do what is necessary to protect what is the most vulnerable and fragile in our society,” says Johnny Taylor, president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

     Many administrators from the various HBCUs are saying that they were never given an advanced notice of the changes in student loan programs. The Obama Administration and the Department of Education say the changes were made to match the industry standards for getting other types of loans.

     From a business and political position too many students and parents are defaulting on their loans. In 2010, the Democratic controlled Congress ended taxpayer subsidies to private banks for student loans making the Education Department and the federal government responsible for collection and handing out student loans. Student loans can’t be eliminated through bankruptcy and there are $1 trillion in outstanding student loans in the country.

     College education will continue to be expensive and Blacks and minorities will find it hard to afford the tuition, because of a lack of wealth in our communities. Resources are limited and shrinking at HBCUs and there is a crisis for Blacks in colleges and universities. We can place the blame on the Obama Administration and sue him in the courts, but I don’t think that will change the conditions and our situation.

     Collaborating and engaging the Obama Administration with a plan that makes sense is the way to approach and attack our educational challenges. College education must become a priority for our community and the leading minority and African American organizations must unify, because we must help save our children through education.

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