Obama Signs Student Loan Reform

Flickr/ <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/haagenjerrys/2194117356/">Aceycakes</a> (Creative Commons)

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

President Obama has said he considers community colleges “one of the great undervalued assets in our education system.” Tuesday, he affirmed that sentiment by signing student loan reform into law at the Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria. The legislation ends a program started half a century ago that ceded lucrative government subsidies to private student loan lenders. It also helps make college more affordable by redirecting $36 billion of the $61 billion the legislation saves taxpayers over 10 years to the Pell Grant program for low-income students. Minority-serving institutions, community college job training programs, and a grant program to increase college access and readiness will also receive part of the savings.

Obama thrust community colleges into the national spotlight last summer when he challenged them to graduate 5 million more students by 2020 and proposed a $12 billion plan to finance his vision. But that mandate has not yet been funded, and an annual survey released Tuesday shows community colleges are facing greater enrollment gains and deeper budget cuts than in previous years. Of the 128 community college presidents and chancellors who responded to this year’s survey, about two-thirds said their enrollment had increased more than 10 percent from the winter of 2009 to the winter of 2010. More than half of respondents also confirmed that their operating budgets had shrunk, with 18 percent reporting a decrease of more than 10 percent. Student loan reform is a great legislative victory, but it will mean little for students if traditionally open-enrollment community colleges are forced to start turning applicants away for fiscal reasons.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend