Amollo: Obama’s student loans initiative only a half measure

Benson Amollo

President Barack Obama is beginning to do things he ought to have done from day one of occupying the White House. The president, in a new offensive, has vowed to side-step a Republican Congress bent on derailing his legislative agenda. The president has resorted to the executive window that offers him the opportunity to make, with the stroke of the pen, new policies.

On Monday, the president announced the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., and the Federal National Mortgage Association took three steps to help responsible homeowners refinance and take advantage of low mortgage rates. Now homeowners facing foreclosures can have another shot at refinancing within friendly interest rates and even save some spending money which the Obama White House hopes will be an impetus for more job creation.

Today the President will announce a new student loan initiative during a tour of Denver. The student loan initiative, a clever attempt at reviving Obama’s waning maniacal support among college students ahead of the elections, will seek to lower the student debt burden.

But it is doubtful that lowering student debt or arriving at far-reaching implications in “favor” of college students will be a lasting reprieve. The cost of American education is way over the roof. As a matter of fact, the cost of education in the United States is comparatively higher than most of developed world. Most families in this country are faced with the worst economic dilemma of their lives, and with an expensive higher education system lacking its once-guaranteed payoffs, it is hard to persuade people that you’re giving them a break, even if you could cut their debts by half.

What the government needs to address is the quickly rising cost of higher education. It is nothing in tandem with the standards of living. It is aggressively in defiance to the economic reality of more job losses than gains. What are the yardsticks that schools use to raise tuition on students and families whose standards of living keep dwindling? Guaranteed student loans have forced most families into debt — sometimes for an education plaque that ends up being irrelevant to the student upon graduation.

If the American higher education is to remain a pinnacle for an informed productive society, then there ought to be a serious review of what merits higher education in relation to the country’s industry. Otherwise, student loans are a burden that families are better off without, because they are the stretchiest debt to any family that has dared to send one of their own to college. Once they get into the debt, they have it for decades sometimes, until it’s paid off.

But with a Wall Street that has continually defied government authority, where’s the guarantee that the new set of student loans will be free of abuse? Student loans have been abused in equal measure as the housing loans. Yet not much has been reported or done to bring to account those who perpetrated the fraud or assure of credible insulations that would protect the future of millions of Americans in higher education. While it may sound a happy initiative in Camp Obama, it is quite disheartening for most families. It is dispiriting in the sense that it is tough for anyone to write themselves off of debt by declaring bankruptcy on student loans. The legal system is overly unfair in this regard. So then, poor families end up paying for Wall Street gamers for failing to see how higher education system has become but erosion. Their fault is the unwinding belief that higher education would improve the lives of their young stars — and even maybe pull the families out of debt. Nay, they get their fingers chopped instead!

The Obama administration knows too well that the student loan business has been a subject of a ploy — a game where big loans were pushed to students and their families. It ended up being the problem of those families as Wall Street bankers made a kill of an idea that ought to shape the country’s future into greatness.

So, as President Obama launches on this noble idea of inviting more regulation to student loans, there’s a need for this administration to get more serious on what would move America forward. Getting a prime education in heavy debt is not the answer to growing an economy on its knees. If there are people that need a break, then it is students and their families. The cost of America’s higher education must be looked into a fresh. Academic institutions cannot run like a free market economy; students are not bidders.

There’s no denying that those ready for a college education deserve some aid — they deserve loans. However, there’s a need to ensure that student loans are available for those that need them and are ready for them. The government cannot push students or young Americans harder into choosing such a pricey college education when they cannot afford it. With more college graduates ending up flipping hamburgers at food franchises like McDonald’s and stocking up merchandise stores for minimum wage earnings, higher education has proved that it is no longer the impetus for job creation or better lives.