Student Bill of Rights seeks to appease student debt

by Ali Isenberg, Staff Writer

President Barack Obama recently signed a memorandum intended to help guide policymakers in assisting students through college finances.

The executive order, which doesn’t involve any spending, encourages policymakers to prioritize the reallocation of funds to relieve the burden on students who take out loans.  The president’s vision for Americans to have access to an affordable, quality education is laid out in a Student Aid Bill of Rights, which makes the following points:

1. Every student deserves access to a quality, affordable education at a college that’s cutting costs and increasing learning.

2. Every student should be able to access the resources needed to pay for college.

3. Every borrower has the right to an affordable repayment plan.

4. And every borrower has the right to quality customer service, reliable information, and fair treatment, even if they struggle to repay their loans.

The president signed the memorandum on March 10 to direct the Department of Education and other federal agencies to do more to help student borrowers afford their monthly loan payments.  In the context of this order, “student borrowers” refers to students who take out loans to help pay for college.

According to a White House press release, more than 70 percent of those earning a bachelor’s degree graduate with debt, which averages to $28,400 at public and non-profit colleges.

As part of the “bill of rights,” the president has created a responsive student feedback system, which will ensure a way for students to file complaints as well as provide feedback about federal student loan lenders, servicers, collections agencies and institutions of higher education.

Other reforms have been made to help borrowers afford their monthly payments, such as requiring more thorough disclosures and stronger consumer protections throughout the repayment process.

Obama is trying to achieve a scenario in which all Americans have opportunities for a “high-quality, affordable postsecondary education without the threat of unmanageable debt,” according to the White House press release.