On January 20, 2013, President Barack Obama was sworn in for another four-year term as the president of the United States. Being on a small, rural campus, it is hard to imagine how the next four years will affect college students right here at Pacific University. Yet, there are many aspects of the next four years that students should be aware of and consider as they become closer to graduation and their careers.
Director of financial aid, Mike Johnson, said how the next four years are handled is a real concern regarding the amount of available funding for financial aid. An example is the Federal Pell Grant. Both Democratic and Republican parties want to keep this grant, but it is currently at an $8 billion dollar short fall.
To help pay for the debt of the Pell Grant and other debt surrounding higher education, the government will increase the interest rates on subsidized loans from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on June 30, 2013. The subsidized loan rates have been dropping for the past four years, said Johnson, but by increasing the interest rate, the government can begin paying off the Pell Grant debt.
Along with student loans, Johnson said there is a lot of concern about student borrowing.
“The government limits how much you can borrow as an undergrad, but students who have to use private loans should be careful about how much they borrow,” said Johnson.
Although this all may seem new to current undergraduates, Johnson said a lot of the same problems have happened before.
“These current problems are all issues the Federal Government and colleges have had to deal with in the past,” said Johnson.
Johnson also discussed some of the accomplishments President Obama made in his first four years. President Obama raised federal funds for education to the highest level in years, said Johnson. He also added that since he has had four years of experience as president, Obama can continue implementing his education plans over his second term.
As for a tuition increase affecting the Pacific campus, Johnson said he was not an authority in that department, but that before such a decision was made, all kinds of costs would be looked at closely at the federal level.
“It costs a lot to educate a student,” said Johnson. “A school like Pacific will need to increase institutional aid to make education here as affordable as possible if tuition rises.”