Students Meet with Legislators
Students Meet with Federal Legislators
Arizona Students’ Association Board members Anthony Hessel, Northern Arizona University graduate student, and Tej Reddy, Arizona State University graduate student, recently met with Congressional representatives and staff members, White House education policy staff, and Department of Education staff to advocate for Arizona’s public university students. “The Arizona Students’ Association is at the forefront of the national conversation to protect higher education funding for the next 10 years,” Hessel stated.
ASA participates in reaching out to federal legislators and education policy makers because the importance of higher education can’t be overstated. The Higher Education Reauthorization Act is being addressed by policy makers now and Congress will be considering its merits over the next two months.
Issues discussed included policies and legislation that address affordable access to higher education that includes tuition costs, student loans and interest rates and how to measure the effectiveness of education degrees and programs. Other issues discussed included sexual assault and harassment on college campuses, student mental health services, tuition equity programs, and protecting research funding which includes employment of thousands of graduate students.
In addition, ASA has been involved with the United States Student Association as the Department of Education develops rules and standards to measure gainful employment effectiveness from the education students receive. At the last public hearing, the only student voices present were ASA and USSA providing student perspectives while significant efforts from public, nonprofit, and for-profit colleges and corporations lobbied for their own economic interests.
To get your education story heard contact the Arizona Students’ Association at http://www.azstudents.org
Arizona Students’ Association Vice Chair, External Affairs and Legislative Committee Chair
United States Student Association Graduate Students Committee Chair
Arizona Students Association Vice Chair, Internal Affairs and Legislative Committee member
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Sufficient for now…not the long-term solution that students and families need
The Arizona Students’ Association, a statewide student advocacy organization, supports the congressional student loan deal. The House of Representatives passed legislation on student loan interest rates that will tie all future rates to the financial markets. The bill passed through the Senate in July and is awaiting President Obama’s signature. While this bill does not solve every issue facing students and their families, the Arizona Students’ Association commends the bipartisan effort. This deal is sufficient for now, but more is needed for families and students.
The new structure for student loans passed both the Senate 81-18, and the House 392-31. This new structure links the interest rates of all additional student loans to the 10-year Treasury (i.e. the financial markets). This agreement will also bring interest rates for subsidized loans down from the current rate of 6.8 percent, which doubled on July 1. This fall, undergraduates will borrow at a 3.9 percent interest rate; graduate students will borrow at a 5.4 percent interest rate; and parents will borrow at a 6.4 percent interest rate. These rates would be locked in for that year’s loan and rates would be capped at 8.25 percent for undergraduates, 9.5 percent for graduates, and 10.5 percent for parents.
While this plan would offer 11 million borrowers a lower rate and save undergraduates an estimated $1,500 in interest charges, more long-term comprehensive solutions are needed to address larger and more nationally significant issues. Students and their families need common sense solutions, pragmatism, and a sense of urgency. S.1334 is not perfect, and is in no way a long-term solution, but in the short-term, should be supported. ASA is inclined to agree with Senators and Representatives that state this bill unfairly charges more for graduate rates and will result in an “unjustifiable” amount of profit for the Federal Government ($185 Billion over the next decade). Unfortunately, this measure only solves the interest rate issue for the next few years, as the rates for undergraduate are projected to exceed 6.8 percent by 2017. Issues of access and affordability, refinancing, and the $1 trillion in student loan debt must still be addressed. With the Higher Education Act up for reauthorization later this year, the time is now to begin thinking about how to solve such problems facing students and their families, as these issues have national implications.