Obama Unveils Proposal on Student Loans

Posted October 26th, 2011 at 1:20 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama says the government should be doing everything it can to put a college education within reach for every American, even as tuition rates rise faster than inflation or income.

Speaking in the city of Denver, Colorado, Wednesday, the president unveiled a plan to help university students and alumni lower their student-loan payments and consolidate their loans.

Mr. Obama said it is bad for the economy when people have to put off buying a house or starting a business because they are paying off school loans.

The “Pay As You Earn” executive action actually alters an earlier plan by moving forward the date it becomes effective. As of 2012, students would be able to cap the level of their loan payments at 10 percent of their income. Earlier, the effective date had been 2014.

The proposal also includes a means for students to consolidate federal loans at lower interest rates and lessen the chance of default.

After 20 years of payments – instead of 25 – any remaining balance would be forgiven.

The president said the program will lower the loan payments of some 1.6 million Americans by hundreds of dollars a month.

The plan could help the president's re-election plans, as most university students will be old enough to vote in next year's elections.

A White House press release said the changes would carry no additional cost to taxpayers.

On Tuesday, the Obama administration said it is launching several programs to help military veterans find work, as the U.S. president tries to show he is serious about creating jobs.

More veterans are likely to look for work as tens of thousands of troops return from Iraq before an end-of-year deadline for their withdrawal. But, they will enter a weak labor market in which the unemployment rate has remained at or above 9 percent for most of this year.

Mr. Obama has announced several executive actions in recent days to boost the economy and bypass congressional Republicans who blocked his proposed job creation bill earlier this month. Republicans said the bill's $447 billion price tag contained too much wasteful spending.