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October 25, 2010


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Walter Sobchak

How much of total tuition receipts is this amount?


It is not just anecdotal evidence about the plus loan. The Plus loan administered by Direct Loans is approving at a substantially higher rate than the old FFELP program: Here are some Stats on that and another thanks to Mark Kantrowitz: http://j.mp/ceOwOq


Unless we are going to switch to a scandanavian model where parents are completely out of the picture, the USA's financial aid model is still based on the parents as primary responsible party for funding their children's postsecondary education. Because of lender subsidy caps in the federal program, lenders for decades found student loans more profitable than parent loans.) (The default rates on parent loans have always been much lower, though, than for Staffords.) Discussion about the "SAP gap" at lender events made it clear that lenders were strongly downplaying the benefits of parent PLUS loans in interactions both with college financial aid administrators and with families. By the time the "SAP gap" was finally fixed, the anti-PLUS bias in the financial aid process was already cast, and the era of new FFEL originations was nearing its end anyway. Financial aid administrators also found anecdotally that parents from "the me generation" were much less eager to borrower for their kids' postsecondary education than the HEA presumes.

Now that lenders are not making new federal loans, there should be an aggressive push by financial aid administrators as well as federal officials to get most parents into borrowing from the federal loan program. In addition, there should be a review of the suspicious shift of America's student population from dependent to independent status -- which generally allows the colleges to access a lot more federal student aid. The Kantrowitz figures, as detailed in his original paper, do not actually indicate approval rates and non-approval rates but are imputed from somewhat-unrelated statistics and likely simply reflect differences in the composition and operation of the DL and FFEL programs that existed during 2007-08.

The fake stories labeling federal PLUS loans as "sub-prime" instruments are part of the "fear, uncertainty and doubt" strategy developed by those who want to replace the USA's whole postsecondary education system with a free education for all model, because they don't feel they received a good education but still have to repay their student loans. A strong consumer program should be set up to address individual troubles, and then these individuals should move out of the policy sandbox because their issues do not represent "a generation adrift" or "a national trend." They are simply individual consumer issues which need to be addressed as such.

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