ProtectStudentChoice.org Opposes the U.S. Department of Education's Forceful Approach to Reforming the Student Lending Process
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ProtectStudentChoice.org Opposes the U.S. Department of Education's Forceful Approach to Reforming the Student Lending Process WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- ProtectStudentChoice.org, a grassroots coalition of state and local student loan service professionals, criticized today the U.S. Department of Education's heavy-handed tactics pressuring universities to make changes to the student lending process even before legislation to mandate such changes has been considered in the Senate. According to yesterday's New York Times, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wrote to thousands of academic institutions urging them to prepare for impending reforms that haven't yet been voted on. As reported in the New York Times, Robert Shireman, the deputy undersecretary of education said, "Some campuses are thinking they'll wait until Congress acts, but to wait is to endanger loan access for students." Under H.R. 3221, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, all colleges and universities would be forced to convert to an expanded Federal Direct Lending system by July 1, 2010. This government takeover would force academic institutions to meet unrealistic compliance goals. The direct lending system also eliminates choice and competition for universities and students in the lending process and threatens 35,000 jobs in the student loan industry across the county. Responding to the Department's effort to convert to a Direct Loan program, Elaine Larson, Director of Student Financial Planning at Centre College in Danville, KY says, "Colleges are concerned about additional costs. July, 2010 is the projected date of implementation; however, colleges must have lead time to change brochures and inform students of the new potential changes should the proposed law pass. Six months is not enough lead time. We are a small office with two professional staff serving 1,200 students." Mr. Shireman stated in the New York Times it will take as little as three weeks for financial aid offices at colleges and universities to transition to direct lending. Changes will involve retraining or restructuring financial aid staff and procuring and shifting to new computer systems. With financial aid offices planning for their next academic year far in advance, ProtectStudentChoice.org maintains that this is an insufficient amount of time to make thousands of institutions overhaul their systems, procedures, and practices. Joan Crissman, Interim President and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), wrote in a letter to the House Committee on Education and Labor, "Our members continue to be concerned about the proposed timeframe to move all schools into the Direct Loan program. Based on when these proposals could become law, schools will have much less than a year's time to implement a large program change." With no hearings yet in the Senate to discuss the student loans issue, ProtectStudentChoice.org agrees with NASFAA and disputes the Department of Education's assumption that this new legislation will pass without any public debate or scrutiny on the topic. Visitors to the website -- www.protectstudentchoice.org -- can get details about the initiative's alternative student loan proposal and join over 8,500 other individuals in signing an online petition to Congress to preserve student and university choice and 35,000 jobs. Website: www.protectstudentchoice.org Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Keep-Student-Loan-Choice-Protect-Local-Jobs/142122977267 Twitter: http://twitter.com/StudentChoice SOURCE ProtectStudentChoice.org David Silverstein, +1-202-683-3126, firstname.lastname@example.org, for ProtectStudentChoice.org
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