Health care bill impacts student loans - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Health care bill impacts student loans

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By Tayleigh Davis - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - After a year of contentious debate, President Obama will sign health care reform into law Tuesday. One addition made in the House last night has nothing to do with health care at all. It could help more south Georgians go to college.

Jocelyn Wiltshire, a Freshman transfer student at ASU,  is studying with classmates. Like many students at Albany State, she depends on the Pell Grant for financial aid.

"It's a good idea because most students rely on their Pell Grant anyway to go through school because if they're paying us more to go to school if tuition costs are going up then that helps us in the long run anyway," Wiltshire said.

The new health care bill eliminates private lenders from providing student loans. The federal government can actually do it much cheaper. The savings will pump into the Pell Grant program and lower some loan repayments by basing them on income.

"It could be a good or a bad thing," Wiltshire added. "If you make a lot of money it wouldn't seem like much but if you took out a lot of loans and have a lot of payments then it's different."

ASU Financial Aid Director Thomas Harris says the current maximum loan of nearly $ 5,500 could go up to just under $6,000. The government plans to pour $36 billion into Pell Grants.

"People could definitely take advantage of those increases," Harris said. "anytime you make funds available to students and help them graduate that's a positive." 

ASU has always been on the federal loan program which eliminates multiple payments from private lenders. The bill will also provide $4 billion to historically black colleges like ASU.

"Those funds will help us expand programs we already have such as center for African American Males and first and second year programs," Harris noted.

Funding also earmarks money for graduation retention programs and community colleges. Schools like ASU could see Pell Grant increases as soon as next school year. That number is expected to increase to $5,900. The proposal must first past though the senate.

Under the bill, borrowers would be allowed to spend no more than 10 percent of their monthly income to repay student loans. Right now, the cap is 15 percent.

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