WEST CHESTER, PA, May 23, 2017 — AccessLex Institute strongly opposes several proposals to modify key provisions of the federal financial aid system contained in the President’s fiscal year 2018 budget announced today.
Although described as savings, the changes would effectively transfer tens of millions of dollars that benefit students pursuing higher education to other Administration priorities. More specifically, these proposals adversely impact law students as well as other graduate and professional students by increasing the cost of financing higher education precisely at the time when a strong consensus is forming that the cost of higher education is rising too quickly.
Eliminating the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which provides a financial incentive for law graduates and other professional to both enter and persist for an extended term in critical, underserved fields would create fewer and less experienced resources for persons who rely on these vital services. AccessLex Institute continues to advocate for maintaining the PSLF program for the benefit of all Americans.
Similarly, while AccessLex supports simplification of Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans, we oppose the proposed changes that make it harder for borrowers to repay their student loans, and especially those that disproportionately penalize graduate and professional borrowers. Enactment of a 25 percent monthly payment increase and a 20 percent increase in repayment years would add substantial new financial burdens for this class of borrowers.
At a higher level, our opposition to the proposals in the President’s budget is overlaid by the consistent position of AccessLex Institute that changes to federal higher education policy should occur following a reasoned debate on the substance and the fiscal impact of a change. Such a process is the surest way to design a coherent federal policy for higher education and its components, including graduate and professional education. And this is why AccessLex Institute supports Congress moving forward with the overdue reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, which creates just such an opportunity.
“For almost two decades, federal higher education policy has been driven through the appropriations process, reducing important policy decisions to budgetary math,” said Christopher P. Chapman, President and Chief Executive Officer of AccessLex Institute. “The result is a Higher Education Act that lacks a common thread in many key areas and has created unintended consequences in others.”
See our full set of Higher Education Act policy recommendations here.