By Hannah Lardent, CFP Development Associate & Executive Assistant
In recent weeks, the student loan crisis has become a hot topic — due in part to the impending deadline for Congress to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling. The New York Times article, “A Generation Hobbled by the Soaring Cost of College” (May 13) offers real life examples of the harsh realities of student loan burdens; and this infographic from LearnVest shows that the average debt burden for graduates is $25,000, while the median starting salary is just $2,000 above that.
On May 10, Community Partnerships Coordinator Marie LeBlanc and I attended a briefing at the White House on College Affordability hosted by the Office of Public Engagement. There was a panel discussion, keynote from Vice President Joe Biden, and a Q&A session. Members of the audience included college students from local universities, campus action groups, and players in DC community engagement. CFP was proud to be included in the discussion.
The briefing focused on the Obama administration’s efforts to make college more accessible and affordable. And while student loans will continue to be a reality for a high percentage of college graduates, he hopes to make repaying those loans as manageable as possible. If Congress does not act by July 1st, student loan interest rates will double from 3.4% to 6.8%. Keeping student loan interest rates low helps keep college accessible. If you are interested in getting involved in this political issue, reach out to your Congressman.
A college degree is an essential factor in economic mobility and prosperity. By 2018, 63% of new jobs will require at least some college education. And while DC currently has one of the highest concentrations of individuals with college degrees, the city also possesses a deep wealth gap. But thankfully, numerous CFP nonprofits are tackling the problem of college access and affordability in the greater Washington area. Here are just a few:
College Bound: College Bound targets under served junior high and high school students who have the drive and desire to attend college.Each week, students meet one-on-one with college-educated mentors who assist them in math, SAT prep, and college admissions, with the goal of improving the District’s historically low test scores and college-attendance rate. Mentors explore scholarship opportunities and help students navigate the college application process.
Reach for College!: In the District, only 43% of students graduate high school and nearly half of those never attend college. So every day, as part of their academic schedule, 2,000 students in more than 40 classes in DC use Reach for College!’s curricular materials to boost their skills in college-level reading, writing, and time management. Classes in SAT prep, college selection and application, and financial aid, help them navigate the application maze.
The Posse Foundation: The Posse Foundation identifies public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential who might otherwise be overlooked in the college admissions process. It helps them pursue personal and academic excellence by placing them in supportive, multicultural teams (“posses”) of ten students that act as traveling support systems. Posse expands the pool from which top universities recruit students, helps create more inclusive campus environments, and ensures that Posse Scholars persist in their academic studies and graduate (an astonishing 90% of them do).