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2014 July

The High Cost of Student Debt

July 30, 2014 | By | No Comments

By: Khalil Boggs

Many young adults dream about going to college. They imagine the class lectures and great parties, amazing friends they will meet, and enjoying the independence of having free time. However, they do not stop to think about how much debt they will have once they graduate. According to statistics released by the White House about the student loan debate, most college students end up in debt–71 percent of students graduate from college with about $29,000 of debt. What’s driving students into debt? Congress? Banks? Colleges?

In the early 1990s, the average tuition for a public and private four-year institution was roughly $5,243 or $13,237 per year. By 2011, the prices became $15,918 or $32,617 a year. That is a major jump in the span of 20 years. With these prices, students are taking out extremely large loans just to stay in school, which has motivated President Barack Obama to try and enact his loan forgiveness initiative.

A Twitter user had a conversation with President Obama. Her name was Caitlin. She responded to the initiative: “Seems to me like an attempt to put a band-aid on a broken leg.” She asks,”What are we doing to actually lower the cost, so these loans will no longer be necessary.” She makes an excellent point. Yes, student loan forgiveness is a great idea and could potentially help millions of people, but what are we doing to stop this vicious cycle? Students go to school, take out a loan, graduate, their loan gains interest, and yet they still cannot get a job and are still stuck with the burden of these payments.

Why are students in so much debt? Banks lend money and collect payments. If colleges were still relatively low, would we even need loans? Colleges aren’t charging students an “arm and a leg” they are charging an arm, leg, kidney, liver, and your brain.

Colleges are facing more pressures to raise tuition due to larger pension, higher healthcare and technology costs. But the administration’s plan to lower education costs could change the face of education. Obama’s plan for lowering costs has been the use of competency based degrees. Instead of awarding credit based on how many credit hours a student has it would be based on how much a student can prove they know. If they pass a test with a certain score they can get credit for the course. There is an initiative called Pay as you Earn, and as you earn the credits, you pay them off. Congress is standing in the way of these proposals. They have not passed the bills necessary to make these things happen.

In fact, Congress is looking to double the interest rate on student loans, making them more than seven percent. In addition, banks(Bank Rate) are making subtle changes to policies that would put students in more debt.

While larger banks are more reluctant to lend to students, credit unions and community banks are more than willing. Sometimes they will approve a student for a personal loan and not a private student loan because the personal loan does not offer the same payback protection. The idea of a student loan is to prevent students from taking out more than necessary, a personal loan can be approved for any amount. Allowing students to rack up debt. So another question is brought to the forefront, are banks doing this on purpose to get more money out of us, the students. So with Congress not approving bills to lower college tuition, and looking to double interest rates, what are students to do? Students have no control over what happens.

In a country where a college education is almost mandatory to get a good job and make a decent living, it sure is getting harder to afford. While we continue the student loan debate, ask yourself, who is to blame? Colleges for these price hikes, or big banks, which are shelling out cash for education? I say it is a strong combination of both. Colleges are getting to highly unaffordable rates, and banks are over lending purposely to unsuspecting naive students.

Possible Immigration Reform in the Near Future?

July 3, 2014 | By | No Comments

By: Uri-Biia Si-Asar

About a year ago on June 27th, 2013, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act was voted upon by the Senate. The Senate voted 68-32 and the immigration reform bill was passed. Some of the key components of the Act included a 13-year path to citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the country and tougher security measures put in place before immigrants gained legal status. This includes a maximum of 200,000 guest visas annually and $40 billion put towards border enforcement measures for the next decade. Unfortunately, however, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act did not pass in the House of Representatives and since then no more bills have been pushed through legislation.

Well at this point you may be wondering why that matters now almost a year later…

Recently there have been whisperings of another attempt at immigration reform in Congress. This is happening at a very interesting time as well because it may be one of the last windows of opportunity for any immigration reform to take place. Since the deadline to file for primary candidacy has passed Democrats are now hoping that some Republicans will now feel comfortable enough to vote for immigration reform.

Previously, some Republicans who were on the fence about their support of immigration reform may not have felt comfortable supporting the reform out of fear of losing their party’s support for elections. Now that the deadline has passed they have had time to gauge if their support on immigration reform will be reacted to negatively within their party.
We, as young people, are the generation of doers. We not only ask for change, we affect change. So, if you would like to voice your opinion or you would like to encourage Congress on making progress with immigration reform you should contact your representative in the Senate and House and let them know what you think should happen with immigration reform. We can make a difference.

 

#IMPACTYourState: Know Your Candidates

July 3, 2014 | By | No Comments

By: Brianna Owens

It’s that time again — it’s primary election season, and midterm election time (November 4, 2014) is fast approaching. Do you see the signs in the front yards, the supporters at the street lights? Now is the time for you to think about the prevalent issues in your community and support the candidate(s) you think will work to provide solutions to those issues.

According to FairVote.org, only about 40 percent of registered voters in the United States participate in midterm elections; many believe that it doesn’t have the “hype” factor or the competitiveness that presidential elections have. If this is your opinion, I still want to encourage you to educate yourself and your community on the candidates that want to represent you in elected office. Just as your voice matters, your vote matters.

With that in mind, IMPACT launched the #VoteReady campaign on August 15, 2012, in an effort to not only highlight the importance of voting, but also inform minority and youth populations about the current Voter ID laws and how they can register to vote.

Over the last two years, IMPACT’s goal has been to register eligible voters 40 and under; re-register members of the 40 and under community to vote; encourage those who are able to vote early (where applicable); encourage those who are unable to physically go to the polls to submit an absentee ballot; inform voters about Voter ID laws (where applicable); and utilize social media and other avenues to build awareness and educate voters.

During this pivotal time, it is important to note that whichever political party controls the Senate or House will support policies that will affect their constituents; as my former government teacher told me, “If ever in doubt about which candidate to support, GO WITH YOUR POLITICAL PARTY.” If you really can’t choose a candidate after having done your research on where they stand on certain issues, I suggest going with this advice; in all cases, JUST VOTE.

Are you keeping up with national election news? If not, here are some of the relevant issues:

● Democrats are fighting to maintain control of the Senate while the GOP is fighting to take it.
● Majority leader of the House, Eric Cantor, loses to challenger, Dave Brat. According to the Washington Examiner, “many Republicans believe it was because he played both sides of the street on the issue of immigration.”
● Now, the new Majority Leader is Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
● Charles and David Koch spearheaded a “super” PAC called Freedom Partners Action Fund, which is meant to “support candidates who share our vision of free markets and a free society and oppose candidates who support intrusive government policies that push the American Dream out of reach for the American people”, says Marc Short.
● Mayoral candidates David Catania and Muriel Bowser are battling it out when it comes to D.C.’s public schools.
● Currently, Maryland is experiencing a major shift in their status quo; one of their candidates, Heather Mizeur is running and, if elected would be the “first female governor and the first openly gay person elected governor of any state.”
● “Black voters in the South could be key to victories for incumbent senators trying to hold on to their seats in Mississippi and Louisiana, political experts say.”

What is your stance on these issues? Is education a major problem in your state? How do you feel about immigration? These are all things you need to think about when voting for candidates to represent you; see how closely their opinions on certain issues align with yours.

For more information about the #Voteready campaign, please take a look at our voter toolkit at GetVoteReady.org.

Getting Past the Gibberish – ObamaCare Updates Translated

July 3, 2014 | By | No Comments

By India Graden

In the context of healthcare and the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as “ObamaCare”), there are certain terms that make the average person’s eyes glaze over and focus immediately wane. Words like “risk corridor” and “reinsurance.” What do they actually mean? With the constant bickering between Democrats and Republicans over the overall efficacy of the program and how to best implement the scheduled changes, it’s hard to read through the language and understand what the government actually wants our citizens to do.
Risk corridors, risk adjustment, and reinsurance are all just words used to describe the government’s plan of lowering the economic impact of insuring the nation. Reinsurance offers funding to insurance companies that deal with high costs for certain enrollees (those who may be considered “higher risk), while risk corridors limit the amount of losses and gains that insurance providers can experience and transfers funds from low risk plans to high risk plans (to even the playing field).
The latest news in the ObamaCare arguments is that House Republicans are saying the often debated risk corridor system is not a big deal – but only because of the overall risk of ObamaCare as a whole. The risk corridor system is set to expire in 2016, however the conversation brings up a much more troubling conversation of what is significant to the national healthcare budget. Why is such a large amount (literally billions of dollars) being spent on a temporary system not deemed as significant?
The answer is because the overall program is so large. The mindset of many House majority members is that the risk corridor payout budget (2 trillion dollars over the next 10 years) is not a problem because the overall ObamaCare strain on tax dollars is already so huge. This mentality is a problem because anything that puts a larger strain on the taxpayer places even more animosity amongst those citizens opposed to ObamaCare in the first place. This loops into a larger discussion on lack of understanding and opposition to public insurance amongst the nation. The first step toward fixing the clear problems with the Affordable Care Act is to make sure the risk corridors and reinsurance programs are actually budget neutral.