WASHINGTON, October 25th - Statement of Rich Williams, Higher Education Advocate for Alpha PIRG Students:
Tomorrow, President Obama will announce a series of initiatives that will reduce the burden of student loan debt that millions experience after graduation.
"Student debt levels have skyrocketed. Hundreds of thousands of student loan borrowers wear a financial straightjacket once repayment begins. Tools exist to help borrowers break free from negative consequences like default but they aren’t aware that these tools exist and they need the tools sooner."
On September 12th, the US Department of Education released the official FY 2009 cohort default rates on student loans. The number of students who defaulted within two years of entering repayment increased to 8.8%, up from 4.5% in FY 2003 and 7% in FY 2008.
As budget cuts continue to dominate politics in Washington, DC, there was only one thing both sides of the aisle could come together and agree on in the latest round of budget cuts: protect the Pell Grant program.
On the heels of a new federal law on textbook affordability, the Student PIRGs today released a report calling rentals, e-books and e-readers short-term remedies, and hailing open textbooks as the next step to rein in runaway costs. Already, more than 1,300 professors across the country are using open textbooks - which are free online, affordable in print and openly licensed - saving students 80% on average according to the new report.