On March 10, President Barack Obama went to the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta to speak about his proposed Student Aid Bill of Rights, on which every American who aspires to a college education should be able to rely.
The Student Aid Bill of Rights is aimed at ensuring strong consumer protections for student borrowers, who make up about 70% of graduates from four-year, nonprofit colleges. (That percentage does not include those who borrow but do not graduate). According to the Project on Student Debt, the average debt per borrower is $28,400.
Although college is expensive, it is the most important investment that students can make in their own future, the president said, and the one investment that contributes not only to individual prosperity but to the prosperity of the nation, since higher education leads to higher salaries and greater financial stability.
According to the Committee for Economic Development, some form of postsecondary education is now required for 59% of the jobs out there, compared with just 28% four decades ago.
[Related: VIDEO: President Obama Announces Student Bill of Rights]
The president wants student borrowers to be able to afford to pay their loans back and to pay them back responsibly. If they have questions or complaints, he wants them to have access to quality customer service and fair treatment, and use a simple process to file complaints about their lenders, servicers, or schools. In support of these aims, President Obama has signed a presidential memorandum directing the Department of Education and other federal agencies to take steps to make repaying student loans more manageable
The president is also requiring loan servicers to provide comprehensible information to borrowers, so borrowers are informed when, for example, a student loan is transferred from one servicer to another.
While at Georgia Tech, the president mentioned that the income-based repayment program (which you can find more information about here) is underutilized. The program adjusts the amount you pay based on your income.
Here are the four rights of the president’s Student Aid Bill of Rights:
Every student in America should:
I. Have access to a high-quality, affordable higher education.
II. Be able to easily find the resources they need to pay for college.
III. Be able to choose an affordable repayment plan for student loans
IV. Receive quality customer service, reliable information, and fair treatment when repaying loans.
Visit whitehouse.gov/collegeopportunity to submit your name and e-mail address if you agree.