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Update: President Obama's Student Aid Bill of Rights

An update on President Obama's Student Aid Bill of Rights.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

April 14, 2016

Update: President Obama's Student Aid Bill of Rights
The difficulties of student loan repayment have been an integral part of the dialogue surrounding paying for school in recent years. College graduates began slipping under payments long before the recession, but the tough economic times only exacerbated the struggle, making it more of a common occurrence than an anomaly. Fortunately, the economy is healthier; however, the state of student loan debt remains much the same. Last year, President Obama announced to a crowd of students at Georgia Tech University that he was going to fight for more transparency in student loan repayment and management. His announcement was the basis for the Student Aid Bill of Rights, which he signed into memorandum for the Department of Education and other federal agencies, according to the White House. Since then, President Obama has made major moves to make good on his promises to college students and graduates. Take a look.

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The Student Aid Bill of Rights

I. Every student deserves access to a quality, affordable education at a college that’s cutting costs and increasing learning. As part of the Student Aid Bill of Rights, President Obama initiated the America’s College Promise last year, which provides incentives for community colleges to offer free tuition to students. So far, three states already have free tuition programs in place while at least ten states have legislation under consideration this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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II. Every student should be able to access the resources needed to pay for college. President Obama signed an executive order in September of 2015 that would allow students and their parents to complete the FAFSA as early as October using the previous year’s income tax returns. The administration believes that filling out the form sooner with more information will encourage more students to file the FAFSA, resulting in more aid dollars to the neediest. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education continues to push the financial aid shopping sheet, which colleges and universities may choose to disperse to students in order to provide a clear picture of the true cost of attendance. Obama unveiled this plan in 2012. III. Every borrower has the right to an affordable repayment plan.

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Obama’s income-based repayment expansion was finalized last fall as well. In December, all federal direct loan borrowers became eligible to cap their loan payments at 10% of their discretionary income. Any remaining debt will be forgiven after 20 years for undergraduates and 25 years for graduate students. IV. And every borrower has the right to quality customer service, reliable information, and fair treatment, even if they struggle to repay their loans. Finally the Student Aid Bill of Rights states that a website will be created for borrowers to file complaints about federal loan lenders, servicers, collection agencies and institutions of higher education. It is set to be in place by this July.

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