Why the 2015 State of the Union Is Big if You Have Student Debt


Tonight’s State of the Union will be one of the most important for student debt and higher education, ever.  This speech comes in the midst of a student debt crisis, in which borrowers owe a total of $1.3 trillion in student loans–more than credit card debt and auto loans combined.  The average college graduate now graduates with $33,000 in debt.

But the real story is how student debt fundamentally changes the path to the American Dream.  Young people are can’t buy houses because their student loans mean they don’t qualify for a mortgage.  Young entrepreneurs can’t start businesses because they don’t qualify for a business loan.  It doesn’t have to be this way.

A generation ago college was either free or something that could be paid for working a part-time job.  The President wants to restore that opportunity to get us closer to an education system that is affordable and accessible for all.

Here are a few things to look for in tonight’s speech:

  • Expansion of Pay As You Earn (PAYE) to all borrowers: The President announced a plan to allow all borrowers with federal student loans to cap their monthly payments at just 10 percent of their income.  This program needs to be both expanded and promoted among borrowers as a lifeline for those struggling with crushing monthly payments.
  • Refinancing student loans: Student loans are the only type of loans that aren’t eligible for refinancing.  Borrowers should be able to refinance their student loans just like they can refinance a mortgage.  Last year the President announced his support for a plan to help borrowers and this year we hope he will continue to push to let students refinance their student loans.
  • Free community college for all: Almost a century ago our country became the most educated in the world by making public high school free and accessible to all.  In today’s global economy, the President has recognized that burdening students with debt is holding our country back, and that for our country to thrive, free and accessible higher education is essential.

We’ll be live tweeting the State of the Union on @HigherEdNotDebt tonight, and check back here for more as we push for a higher education that is accessible to all without the burden of debt in 2015.


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