"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, May 08, 2006

More Corporate Tax Credits and More Tuition Assistance Cuts

While the drum beat never dies down for more and more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporate tax credits to send children to private schools, students who to go into teaching and other helping professions continue to accrue college debts that make their idealistic commitments and economic futures questionable.

Student loan debt has become a serious burden for students – to the point where some have considered not entering socially beneficial occupations, such as teaching and social work, because they don't pay enough to cover loan payments.

"It's something we need to be worrying about because if we want people to go into teaching and other important socially beneficial occupations, they need to know when they're in college that it's a choice they can afford to make," said Robert Shireman, director of the Project on Student Debt.

At the same time, the Bush budget included $12 billion in cuts to student finanical assistance, while promising another $70 billion in additional tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Meanwhile:

"Borrowing has become the means for students to pay for higher education," said a petition submitted last week to Education Secretary Margaret Spellings by Mr. Shireman's group, the State PIRGs and other groups representing students, parents, educators and the loan industry. "But it is not simply that more students are borrowing. They are also borrowing much more."

Adjusting for inflation, graduating seniors with loans in 1993 carried today's equivalent of about $12,000 in education debt, the petition said.

Just seven years later, that number had risen 60 percent to nearly $20,000. The proportion of borrowers with debt in excess of $25,000 tripled between 1993 and 2000, from 7 percent to more than a fourth of the graduates who borrow, according to the petition.

What kind of leadership can we expect from Spellings at ED? She sent someone out to say they would sign the petition. Mrs. Spellings is much more interested in offering support for the Patakis of the world, who tried to push through this year $119 million in cuts to state college tuition assistance, while floating a plan to offer tax credits to send K-12 children to private schools.

Now if he and Spellings would offer tax credits to help poor graduates attend universities, that would be a real project on student debt.

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