Experts agree that earning a college degree is well worth the investment as the average person who earns their bachelor’s degree will earn $1 million more than someone without a college education. They are less likely to default on their loans and are at a lower risk for unemployment.
Giving all Americans the opportunity to earn their degree is critical to the success of our country, as two-thirds of all jobs will require a degree by the year 2020. For this reason, the Department of Education recently issued a press release explaining new guidelines issued by the Department aimed at increasing access to higher education for all Americans.
The Obama Administration has made huge investments toward improving the affordability and opportunity to attend college. They have doubled the amount of Pell Grants and created the American Opportunity Tax Credit which is worth $10,000 over the four years is take to earn a degree. They have also cut interest rates and introduced income-driven repayment plans, which allow borrowers to cap monthly payments at 10 percent of their income.
However, many gaps still exist in the education system, with only one in 10 low-income Americans earning their bachelor’s degree by the age of 24. And many college students struggle to pay their way through school with the majority choosing to live off-campus with family members or roommates. Three-fourths of all college students work while they are in school and about a third work full time. And a fourth of all students are also parents.
In spite of the many long-term benefits, many Americans are unable to earn their degree due to the increasing costs of attending college. From 1992 to the present day, the average debt owed per borrower more than doubled to around $28,000.
Increasingly, the ability for borrowers to repay their loans is based more on whether or not they complete their degree as opposed to how much debt they have accrued. Studies have shown that students who take on debt without graduating are three times more likely to default on their loans than borrowers who earn their degree.
In a recent speech, Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. addressed the Obama Administration’s efforts to increase access to higher education for all Americans and the need to help all Americans earn their degree and thrive in the job market.
The Department of Education has recently joined forces with the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Labor, and Department of the Treasury. They have announced a joint agreement to unite in federal programs and resource to promote easier access to higher education. Their efforts will be aimed at breaking down barriers so Americans can access the knowledge and resources they need to succeed in the job market and provide for their families.
The President’s budget proposal for the fiscal year 2017 also includes reforms aimed at promoting higher education completion for lower-income students.