Estados Unidos: 4 Higher Education Bills That Impact Young People


Students are taking on “insurmountable debt with high interest rates.»

The price of college is too damn high.

In fact, the price of higher education today is so astronomically outrageous that it would take an incoming freshman nearly 20 years to pay off a bachelor’s degree — and even longer if they pursued a masters or a Ph.D., according to one study.

Year over year, the cost of higher education continues to rise, with the current average cost of a four-year university reaching over $104,000. By comparison, a degree in 1989 cost around $26,000 ($53,000, if you adjust for inflation). Meanwhile, wages have stayed relatively stagnant, meaning the cost of higher education requires an increasing amount of students to take out student loans to cover tuition, housing, and general costs of living. To date, the student-loan debt in the United States is $1.53 trillion among an estimated 44.7 million people.

“Repaying student loans is by far one of the most oppressive obstacles young Americans face in our country today,” Ally Bernstein, a student debt lobbyist for the Association of Young Americans (AYA), tells Teen Vogue.

“Fortunately, despite the many issues Democrats and Republicans don’t see eye to eye about, there is one thing on which our elected officials do agree: Something must be done about the high cost of college and [student debt],” she says.

AYA, who Berstein lobbies for, is a nonpartisan membership organization that focuses on giving young people a voice in political decisions and increasing youth political engagement.

According to Bernstein, more students are taking on “insurmountable debt with high interest rates” in an effort to secure a college degree, thus leaving them unable to save for retirement, invest in home ownership, pay for quality health care, or qualify for an apartment without a guarantor. The debt, she emphasizes, delays major life events like marriage and starting a family.

With a commitment to tackling the student-debt crisis, Bernstein says the ideological differences regarding affordability and whether or not policies should “cut, boost, or consolidate federal grants and loan programs” are one reason Congress has yet to act on a solution

Bernstein notes that while legislation that would make college more affordable and alleviate student debt has not yet been introduced this session, both the House and the Senate are working on rewrites of the Higher Education Opportunity Act.

In the meantime, Bernstein recommends that young people pay attention to the stand-alone higher-education bills entering Congress this year. Many, she notes, address specific issues regarding affordable education and debt relief.

1. College Transparency Act

A bipartisan bill that was introduced in both chambers of Congress by Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on March 14, 2019, the CTA legislation would establish a postsecondary student data system to provide better data and information about college patterns, post-collegiate outcomes, higher-education costs, and financial aid. The idea of transparency would allow for institutional improvement and a detailed analysis of Federal aid programs. The bill currently has bipartisan support, with 19 cosponsors in the Senate.

“If passed, the legislation would overturn a ban on a federal data system to track employment and graduation outcomes of college students,” Bernstein explains, referencing a federal data system ban implemented in 2008 with the reauthorization of the Higher Education Opportunity Act, which meant colleges had to report data only at an institutional level, not providing more-targeted evaluations.

“The CTA would ensure accurate reporting on student outcomes such as enrollment, completion, and post-college success across colleges and majors. In order to protect student privacy, the bill bans the sale of the data, prohibits access by law enforcement, and limits the use of personally identifiable information.”

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