AN ISSUE OF FAIRNESS
|Clark College President Bob Knight welcomes Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Brian Baird.|
The focus was on student loans and access to education as Washington Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Brian Baird came to Clark College on August 5.
At a news conference in the Penguin Union Lounge, Rep. Baird announced plans to sponsor companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to Sen. Murray's Preventing Student Loan Discrimination Act. Baird described it as another step forward in efforts to end discrimination against community college students in the lending process.
Sen. Murray introduced the Preventing Student Loan Discrimination Act in the U.S. Senate in June after several lenders offering federal student loans cut back or stopped lending to community college students, forcing these students to find new lenders, juggle two loans at once, or take second jobs. The legislation currently has six co-sponsors.
Sen. Murray and Rep. Baird discussed their joint efforts to pass legislation which will mandate that lenders that receive federal subsidies can't deny loans to eligible students based on the school they attend, the length of their college program, or their income level.
Sen. Murray told the audience of students, faculty and staff lending institutions are sending the wrong message to students at community colleges and vocational-technical schools. “I don’t think we should say that those students are less worthy of a policy by banks around the country,” said Murray.
Clark’s Director of Financial Aid Karen Driscoll noted that the college disbursed more than $20 million dollars in grants, scholarships, waivers, work study and loans to students during the 2007-2008 academic year. She said, “The discontinuation of loan service by certain lenders has caused confusion for our continuing students. They have had to find a different lender, complete a new promissory note and will need to consolidate their loans to avoid concurrent billing by different lenders after graduation.”
Driscoll added that Clark students have “inundated with e-mails from private loan companies that are offering alternative loans.” These types of loans, said Driscoll, come with variable and/or higher interest rates and fewer repayment options than the Federal Guaranteed Loan Programs.