President Obama continuing efforts to lessen burdens of student loan debt

President Barack Obama speaks about an executive order that lets millions of college graduates cap their student loan payments at 10 percent of their income, a move he says will help "open the doors of opportunity for all." Obama signed the order on Monday, June 9, 2014, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

President Barack Obama speaks about an executive order that lets millions of college graduates cap their student loan payments at 10 percent of their income, a move he says will help “open the doors of opportunity for all.” Obama signed the order on Monday, June 9, 2014, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

The White House released a new report on Tuesday that used state data to show the benefits of Senate legislation and executive action to make college more affordable and lessen the burdens of student loan debt.

In a conference call with members of the media, Cecilia Muñoz, White House Director of the Domestic Policy Council, spoke on efforts that have been made by the President and the Senate to assist the millions of Americans affected by student loan debt.

Muñoz said Americans now owe more for student loans than for credit cards, with nearly $1 trillion in student loan debt.

“We want to help people pay for college but also aid those who have already taken on debt,” Muñoz said.

Munoz discussed legislation proposed to Senate that would expand a national payment plan so that more borrowers can cap their monthly student loan payments at 10 percent of their incomes.

This plan would save the average borrower $2,000 over the life of their loan.

According to the report, more than 5 million Americans would be eligible for the program, though Muñoz said that not all those who are eligible will enroll.

“We know that the costs incurred will be manageable and will be money well spent,” she said.

In addition to the payment plan program, the report reiterated that the government is working with the private sector to provide better services and resources and strengthen loan services to encourage better service to students.

“This will extend a critical lifeline to those struggling to pay their student loan debt,” Muñoz said.

Since taking office, the Obama administration has raised the value of the Pell Grant, which helps low-income undergraduate students, by $900 and has seen more than 2.7 million people receive these grants.

Additionally, the White House is offering an annual tax credit for middle class families to defray the cost of college.

Muñoz said that in a time when college education is so critical, it has never been more expensive but despite this, college education remains an excellent investment.

“The unemployment rate for college graduates is half that of high school graduates,”Muñoz said.

Muñoz also said people with four or more years of college education typically earn thousands more than high school graduates.

Additionally, more middle- and lower-income students are going to college. As a result, a greater share of students are financing their education through loans.

 

Reach the reporter at icbeck@asu.edu and follow him on Twitter @ICBeck21