Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Student loan woes

A survey administered by the scholarship-matching website FastWeb found that nearly half of student loan applications are being denied. According to the survey, one of the primary reasons students borrow private loans is because they have maxed out the federal Stafford Loan, a problem that has long been known to burden middle-income families. The survey shows that the government is failing to provide needed financial assistance.

Nearly half of Stafford Loan borrowers who said they maxed out their federal loan stated that they had to turn to private loans as result. These figures show that the average middle-income student is starting or has started to face obstacles in obtaining college funding.

Government has left the average middle-income family unable to finance higher education. Pell Grants are available for low-income students, but for middle-income students, the federal Stafford Loan has indeed become a scarce resource. Grants are often not offered to middle-income students, and when the Stafford Loans dry up, students are forced to turn to private loan alternatives.

The Department of Education needs to find a way to raise the allowed amount for a single student to borrow in Stafford Loan funding — perhaps even high enough so private loans will no longer be needed. To increase the private student loan appeal, banks should be rewarded for offering often non-profitable student loans to needy students. If these actions are taken, middle-income families would sleep soundly knowing the government has invested in their children’s futures — and their futures, as well.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Paulson and Spellings Joint Statement

Continuing constraints in our capital markets have posed challenges for students and student lenders throughout the last year. We recognize that education is the foundation of a strong American workforce and we must not let challenges in our capital markets hinder our students' opportunities. Given these ongoing concerns, the Administration is taking a series of steps to support the student loan market.

Earlier this week, President George W. Bush signed H.R. 6889, the extension of the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act. We appreciate Congress providing the Department of Education, in coordination with the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget, renewed temporary powers to use federal funds to ensure students and families continue to have access to student loans.

The loan purchase and participation interest programs implemented over the last few months have helped ensure that Federal student loans were available to students enrolling in postsecondary institutions for the 2008-2009 school year, and Federal student lending is exceeding last year's pace.

Our financing program has supported just over 40 percent of the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) loans that have been disbursed this year. Over 800 lenders have enrolled in our loan purchase program. Almost $51 billion of federally guaranteed loans have been originated for the current school year, up from approximately $45 billion for the same period last year.

Over the next few months, schools and lenders will be making decisions for the 2009-2010 school year. Using our newly extended authorities, the Administration is moving aggressively to support the continued availability of funding for federal student loans in the next school year with the goal of restoring the government guaranteed student loan market to normal operations. We are working on an expedited basis and will make further announcements in the coming weeks.