College Financial Aid

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  • Fox's Tantaros Accuses Obama Of Trying To Buy Votes With Student Loan Relief

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Fox News host Andrea Tantaros accused President Obama of trying to "bribe" college students by pushing lawmakers to extend lower interest rates on student loans -- even as she acknowledged Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney supports the plan.

    It's unclear why Tantaros would even bother making this accusation when, as she noted during the segment, Romney said on Monday: "I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans." He went on to tell reporters:

    "There's one thing I want to mention that I forgot to mention at the very beginning, and that was that particularly with the mention of the number of college graduates that can't find work or that can only find work well beneath their skill level, I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans."

    President Obama's proposal to urge Congress to extend the lower interest rates for federally subsidized student loans is especially important considering student-loan debt is "reaching crisis proportions." As the Associated Press reported:

    Surging above $1 trillion, U.S. student loan debt has surpassed credit card and auto-loan debt. This debt explosion jeopardizes the fragile recovery, increases the burden on taxpayers and possibly sets the stage for a new economic crisis.

    With a still-wobbly jobs market, these loans are increasingly hard to pay off. Unable to find work, many students have returned to school, further driving up their indebtedness.

    Average student loan debt recently topped $25,000, up 25 per cent in 10 years. And the mushrooming debt has direct implications for taxpayers, since 8 in 10 of these loans are government-issued or guaranteed.

    Obama's proposal would extend the lower rates that were put in effect in 2007:

    President Obama used his weekly video address to launch what will be a weeklong push on the issue of college affordability, pressing lawmakers to act to prevent a sharp increase in interest rates for student loans.


    Legislation passed in 2007 temporarily halved the interest rates for Stafford Loans from 6.8% to 3.2%. If Congress does not act to extend the lower rates by July 1, as many as 7 million families could face higher payments, the White House estimates.

    Tantaros' uninspired criticism of Obama's latest effort to help ease the burden of student loan debts isn't new. After the president unveiled a plan last October to provide some student loan relief, several Fox hosts similarly accused Obama of trying to buy votes.

  • Fox Uses Absurd Hypothetical Lending Scenario To Attack Obama's Student Loan Plan

    Blog ››› ››› REMINGTON SHEPARD

    Attacking President Obama's student loan debt relief plan, Fox & Friends used an unrealistic hypothetical lending scenario to suggest that taxpayers will be on the hook for "a lot!" of unpaid student debt. Here's the scenario presented by Fox & Friends:

    While Fox & Friends displayed the graphic, co-host Gretchen Carlson said:

    CARLSON: Let's take a look at an analogy -- an example of how this would work for a fictitious person. Let's say you borrow $212,000 for a four-year college education. Then you would repay $28,220 on that. This is based on the fact -- you have to keep in mind what this person actually will earn when they go to the real world. That has something to do with it. So if you have to --

    STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Yeah, they earn 25,000.

    CARLSON: So if you only have to repay $28,220 of those loans, who makes up the difference? Well, the bottom line is the taxpayer does -- and you can do the math there. The difference between $212,000 and $28,000 is a lot of money for the taxpayers to make up. I actually think this -- this plan is not only trying to court the young people, it's trying to court the parents of those young people who may in fact be helping out these young people with their student loans down the road as well.

    It seems Fox & Friends got its hypothetical scenario from a column by Fox's Chris Stirewalt. Here's Stirewalt's scenario starring "Suzy Creamcheese":

    Take this example: If Suzy Creamcheese gets into George Washington University and borrows from the government the requisite $212,000 to obtain an undergraduate degree, her repayment schedule will be based on what she earns. If Suzy opts to heed the president's call for public service, and takes a job as a city social worker earning $25,000, her payments would be limited to $1,411 a year after the $10,890 of poverty-level income is subtracted from her total exposure.

    Twenty years at that rate would have taxpayers recoup only $28,220 of their $212,000 loan to Suzy.

    So let's break down the problems with Fox's example:


    This example first relies on a student borrowing $212,000 from the Department of Education to attend George Washington University. According to the Project on Student Debt, an initiative of the Institute for College Access & Success, a college senior "who graduated in 2009 had an average of $24,000 in student loan debt."

    The National Center for Education Statistics reported the average cost of any institution of higher learning is $17,633 in 2009-2010, $15,014 for public four-year institutions, and $32,790 for private institutions. Using these numbers as a baseline, four years of college would cost roughly $70,532 on average, with the average four-year education at a public institution costing $60,056, and $131,160 for the average four-year education at a private institution.

    The total cost of George Washington University -- used in Stirewalt's post and parroted by Fox & Friends -- is not reflective of the average cost of four-year undergraduate institutions.

    Additionally, Obama's plan applies only to loans issued directly from the federal government -- and no student can borrow $212,000 directly from the federal government. According to the Direct Stafford Loan website, the maximum amount any student can receive over four years directly from the Department of Education is $57,500. So Fox's hypothetical -- which relies on a student borrowing $212,000 from the government -- is already flawed.


    The most recent US Census data clearly points out that the average person whose highest degree earned is a bachelor's degree makes significantly more than $25,000 annually, making Fox's assumption that an individual would stay at a job for 20 years that pays $25,000 annually extremely unlikely. Nevertheless, here is how the post concluded that the borrower would repay $28,220 over 20 years:

    If Suzy opts to heed the president's call for public service, and takes a job as a city social worker earning $25,000, her payments would be limited to $1,411 a year after the $10,890 of poverty-level income is subtracted from her total exposure.

    Twenty years at that rate would have taxpayers recoup only $28,220 of their $212,000 loan to Suzy.

    Taxpayers Pay:

    According to the latest Census, the average person whose highest degree earned is a bachelor's degree earns $56,665 annually. Even if such a debtor paid only 1 percent of their income annually, according to the Fox News formulation, they would still contribute about $5,000 per year and would likely repay the entire maximum loan amount in 20 years.

    More importantly, President Obama said in a speech announcing the student loan repayment plan that "[the plan] won't cost taxpayers a dime, but it will save you money and it will save you time." And Melody Barnes, Obama's domestic policy adviser explained to The Washington Post that "that the program will not cost taxpayers anything because the administration plans to use savings from the elimination of loan subsidies to pay for the reduction on interest rates on loans that are consolidated."

    Combining statistical outliers with unlikely scenarios is not a legitimate way to substantiate any point, particularly this one.

  • Right-Wing Media Go On Attack Against Student Debt Relief

    ››› ››› ANDY NEWBOLD

    Fox News and the right-wing media are attacking President Obama's student loan relief plan as a "campaign speech" and an attempt to "buy votes." Obama's plan is designed to help ease the burden of student loans for millions of people by lowering interest rates, consolidating outstanding student loans, and providing debt relief to students after they spend 20 years paying off their loans.

  • L.A. Activist Receives Threats After Being Targeted By Anti-Immigrant Radio Hosts

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC SCHROECK

    An immigrant rights activist received hundreds of threatening calls after a controversial Los Angeles-area radio show known for inflammatory anti-immigrant rhetoric aired his personal cell phone number.

    On September 1, John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou, hosts of the John & Ken Show -- Southern California's top-rated talk radio program -- aired the personal cell phone number of Jorge-Mario Cabrera of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). The hosts urged listeners to leave messages about Cabrera's advocacy of the California DREAM Act, telling them to "congratulate" Cabrera on "his victory," which they described as "the theft of tax money for illegal aliens."

    From the September 1 John & Ken Show (segment starts around 14:50):

    KOBYLT: We have a copy of an email just handed to us, and this is from Jorge-Mario Cabrera, director of communications and public relations, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles -- CHIRLA. C-H-I-R-L-A. And he writes: "Dear all, we've just been informed that AB131 will be introduced tomorrow morning -- Friday, September 2 -- by Assemblyman Cedillo during the brief morning session. It's expected to pass easily. The bill will head to the governor's desk by Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning." That'd be next week."

    CHIAMPOU: Right, but Brown has a month to act on it.

    KOBYLT: Thirty days to sign the bill. "We strongly believe he will sign the bill but are yet unaware of when or where he will sign it. We will have students at CHIRLA wearing white colors, and if time permits, we will have doves or flowers to celebrate this 10-year victory between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Be well, Jorge-Mario Cabrera."

    I have his office number. You may want to call him. Because they're planning a celebration on the theft of tax money for illegal aliens.

    CHIAMPOU: They're years ahead of our audience. These guys have been organized, pushing for this for five years, and he said 10 years, because that's when they got in-state tuition.

    KOBYLT: So, here's his -- I've got two numbers for him. You ready to call this? 213-353-1789. 213-353-1789. You might want to congratulate him on his victory. 213-353-1789. And I've got another number for him. XXX-XXX-XXXX. XXX-XXX-XXXX. That's XXX-XXX-XXXX. Jorge-Mario Cabrera. They're going to be releasing doves and throwing flowers, and he's with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights. They want to celebrate the theft of tax money for illegal alien college students.

    CHIAMPOU: We said from the beginning, Jerry Brown's probably the only hope we have, to get him to veto this. I mean, this passed 50 to 27 a couple of months ago, and they didn't change it much. It will pass easily tomorrow.

    KOBYLT: They are relentless. Even in spite of all the aggression they've heard and all the anger and the opposition, they're relentless in taking American tax money away from American families. And they're going to be screwing American college kids out of grants that these kids deserve. That's what they're going to be doing tomorrow in the Assembly.

    The hosts again repeated Cabrera's information after a commercial break:

    KOBYLT: We have the phone number for one of the spokesholes for this illegal alien activist group called the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, Jorge-Mario Cabrera. You want to call him up? I'll give you the numbers again. 213-353-1789. 213-353-1789. Or this number: XXX-XXX-XXXX. XXX-XXX-XXXX. He's going to celebrate tomorrow by releasing doves into the air.

    CHIAMPOU: Doves.

    KOBYLT: Doves. This is so disgusting. This is just so despicable.

    CHIAMPOU: What could we release? Show our displeasure.

    In a September 8 Huffington Post column, Cabrera described some of the "very angry, and at times threatening calls" he received:

  • Fox's Carlson Falsely Claims 35% Of CA Students Paying In-State Tuition "Were Illegals"

    ››› ››› SEAN EASTER

    On The O'Reilly Factor, Gretchen Carlson falsely claimed that "about 35 percent of the in-state tuition people or students" at University of California schools "were illegals." In fact, only 0.34 percent of undergraduates in the University of California system in the fall of 2008 were "potentially undocumented" students who received the in-state tuition rate.*

  • Fox's Napolitano Miseducates On Education Rule Changes

    Blog ››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL

    Thursday Fox Business' Andrew Napolitano grievously mischaracterized Education Department rule changes that will end federal aid for for-profit schools that fail to help students obtain gainful employment. He said:

    The job market has been sluggish, but that's not stopping the Obama administration from requiring for-profit colleges to produce gainful employment or face being shut down by federal education officials. That means if a culinary or nursing school fails to prove that graduates make enough income to pay off their student loans, then the government will hang the closed sign on their windows. Why is it the government's business to regulate what kind of income students make from their first jobs out of college?

    But according to the Los Angeles Times, the federal government will simply refuse to give tax dollars to schools that fail to deliver gainful employment:

    Under the rules, programs would remain eligible for federal aid if they meet at least one of three tests in a given year: at least 35% of former students are repaying their loan balance; yearly educational-debt payments of typical graduates account for a maximum of 12% of their total income; and those payments account for no more than 30% of their discretionary income.

    Programs would have to fail all three tests in the same year for three out of four years before losing aid eligibility.


    For-profit colleges enroll about 12% of U.S. higher-education students, but they use about one-quarter of federal student grants and loans and account for 46% of student loan dollars in default, the Education Department said. [Los Angeles Times, 6/2/11]

    Some schools may close if they stop receiving government aid -- Reuters reports that federal student aid "accounts for around 90 percent" of for-profit colleges' revenue -- but Napolitano should applaud the end of for-profit education's "dependency" on a federal money. Apparently only senior citizens and poor people who are "dependent upon big government" receive Napolitano's scorn. Big business does not.

    Video of Freedom Watch is below the jump: