May 25, 2018

Webster University concerned about PROSPER Act proposal

The Education Committee voted last December to reform the Higher Education Act (HEA). This long-standing bill enables students to receive government financial aid.

The U.S. government is currently working to pass the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act this month. The bill will streamline student aid programs into one grant program, one loan program and one work-study program. The PROSPER act would also limit loan forgiveness.

Motives behind this reformation include defaulted loans, students working outside their perspective fields, simplified financial aid and educational institutions more focused on student completion.

Chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R) from North Carolina introduced the act. She said reauthorizing the HEA would help no one.

“We need a higher education system that is designed to meet the needs of today’s students and has the flexibility to innovate for tomorrow’s workforce opportunities,” Foxx said on her website. “The PROSPER Act is higher education’s long overdue reform.”

Webster University president Elizabeth Stroble and Provost Julian Z. Schuster said they have been following the developments of the PROSPER act closely in a statement on Webster’s news site Jan. 25.

“The details of this bill are troubling and potentially could affect all of our students, with the greatest impacts on Pell-eligible students and others whose talent and ambition exceed their financial resources, two populations Webster has a strong history of serving,” Webster said in the statement.

Graduates and dependent undergraduates who borrow would see an increase in loan limits but with caps. Students would likely have to take out other loans from private banks to cover education costs beyond the allotted amount, meaning higher interest rates and owing more lenders.

National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities Vice President of Government Relations and Policy Development Sarah Flanagan said there are bad factors in the PROSPER Act.

“One of the big issues we are concerned about is they are going to do this kind of formula where they are going to look at the earnings of past graduates by program, by major, if those students haven’t earned enough to pay their loans back, or aren’t paying their loans back on time then nobody is going to be eligible for that major anymore,” Flanagan said.

Flanagan recommended students to write their representatives now to get involved. Because once the Bill is passed, Flanagan said it will be too late.

 

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