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Secretary Duncan Calls for Accountability, Lower Student Loan Debt

Secretary Duncan speaks on college affordability, accountability.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

July 28, 2015

Secretary Duncan Calls for Accountability, Lower Student Loan Debt
This week, Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, called for some changes to our nation’s current higher education system. During a speech at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Duncan pointed to the current insufficiencies in the system that lead students to graduate in six years or more as well as rack up student debt without the means to adequately pay for it after graduation, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Education. Duncan pointed out that about half of students that attend college do not graduate within six years. He also noted that between 2009 and 2014, spending per student at colleges and universities across the country dropped an average of 13%. And over the years, the graduation rate has decreased, while the student loan default rate has increased.

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During his speech, Secretary Duncan also alluded to the Administration’s current stance on for-profit schools. He said,” For millions of students our higher education system isn’t delivering what they need, or deserve. When students enroll in college, the chances of a successful outcome — getting a degree — amount to “a coin toss,” as stated by The Washington Post.
Essentially, it’s a sad state of affairs for higher education in the country right now in Secretary Duncan’s opinion. Colleges and universities must be held to a higher standard of accountability so that students are not only getting through college faster, but succeeding once they enter the workforce and begin payment on their student loans. Setting these students up for success in college will result in making their monthly payments and paying back student loan debt on time.

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Duncan mentioned that the Obama Administration has worked to alleviate student loan debt concerns and implement institution accountability standards, despite removal of the ratings system the Administration sought to establish in 2013, as reported by The Washington Post. They have also increased Pell Grants, provided loan repayment options that cap payments based on income and instituted the “gainful employment rule” toward for-profit institutions. Secretary Duncan implied, though, that decreasing college costs and college accountability measures are going to require a joint effort in improvement from students, parents and taxpayers alike. The U.S. Department of Education’s press release said, “The Administration will continue to act within its power to control college costs and help students graduate on time with a meaningful degree. We need Congress, states, colleges and universities, and accreditors to join in that effort.”

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