STAFF EDITORIAL: No more debt: overhaul student lender industry

In December’s editorial, “Grading Obama’s impact on students in his first year,” the Tribune patted Obama on the back for his overhaul of the student loan industry.

Obama even called his proposal to nix student lenders in favor of government loans for students a “no-brainer,” in his State of the Union Address.

Yet these seemingly successful plans, to take effect in July, have been stalled by adamant lobbying campaigns from student lenders, like Sallie Mae.

The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act’s future, like the health care bill, looks convoluted and combative.

At Marquette, we need this act to pass more than ever.

The unmet financial need for each Marquette class every year is a whopping $3.5 million. While Marquette allots aid to more than 85 percent of the student body, students are still left with massive student loan debts.

If Obama’s proposal passes, taxpayers would save $87 billion over 10 years by eliminating Sallie Mae and other lenders and putting loans in the hands of the government.

His plan would allow more students to go to college, making higher education more affordable for 8.5 million students.

At Marquette, one quarter of freshmen this year are first-generation college students.

We could add more diversity to Marquette’s mix and help more students attend the university, if the act is successful.

But as of now, student lenders are putting up a pretty good fight.

Lenders’ lobbying campaigns include sit-downs with lawyers, town hall-style meetings and petitions to argue their case.

Sallie Mae, the country’s largest student loan provider, has doled out $3.48 million in federal lobbying in 2009, according to a New York Times report from the Center for Responsive Politics.

In the Times article, aides disclose that pushing the act through the Senate will be more difficult than they first thought.

Making sure we get the best deal for our student loans is something we should be fighting for.

In President Obama’s State of the Union Address, he said, “In the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college.”

This may seem like a joke to most Marquette students, who carry an average debt of $30,000 when they graduate.

But he’s right

Marquette provides an excellent, well-rounded education.

And students should be able to afford this education, without leaving broke.