The Student Loan Act: Nice, But We Need More



Lost in all of the hoopla over the passage of the new health insurance law was the fact that a fairly important piece of student loan legislation also passed as part of the Senate reconciliation bill. The new law ends a decades long arrangement in which the federal government subsidized private companies to extend loans to students while protecting companies from risk. By cutting out unnecessary private intermediaries and assuming direct responsibility for extending federal loans, it's estimated that the new law will save the government around $60 billion over ten years. The majority of this savings is expected to be invested in federal higher education funding. Even better, the introduction of Income-Based Repayment will limit the amount of one's income that can go toward paying off student loan debt.

The law ends a particularly pernicious example of corporate welfare, and even though it was attached to a rotten health insurance bill we should be glad that it passed. But corporate lobbying hollowed out the bill to the point where it will have very little impact on the lives of students and their families. As an article in the New York Times put it,

But for individual students, the increase in the maximum Pell grant — to $5,900 in 2019-20 from $5,550 for the 2010-11 school year — is minuscule, compared with the steep, inexorable rise in tuition for public and private colleges alike. And because college costs are rising so quickly, the maximum Pell grant now covers only about a third of the average cost of attending a public university, compared with three-quarters in the 1970s, when the program began. So each year, more students graduate with debt of more than $20,000.

Tuition is skyrocketing for most people because the states are reducing their financial support for public colleges and universities. As the recession grinds on and the states slide ever deeper into fiscal crisis, this situation is only going to get worse into the foreseeable future. So perhaps it's time to start raising the demand that the federal government increase its support for public higher education, or even - if I may dream for a moment - cover the cost tuition for every student that gets into a public college or university.

It actually wouldn't cost that much, relatively speaking, to do this. According to government figures the total cost in tuition and fees paid by all students enrolled in public colleges and universities was about $43 billion in fiscal year 2007. U.S. GDP is currently $14.26 trillion. That means that the total cost of tuition and fees at all public colleges and universities is a microscopic 0.3% of the total wealth of the country by my rough calculation (if this is inaccurate, please correct me. 'Rithmetic has never been my strongest suit). As far as I can tell, the money for this could easily be found by rolling back the Bush and Clinton tax cuts for the super rich, though of course doing so would be far from easy politically. I think it's time to get this campaign going again.

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Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump

February 17, 2017 · $20.00 USD

Location: MayDay Space
Where: 176 St Nicholas Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
When: Friday, February 17th at 6 PM to Sunday, February 19th to 4 PM

Political Context

This Presidents’ Day weekend, the Young Democratic Socialists will gather for our annual winter conference in New York City titled Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump. We did not choose the name lightly. In doing so, we call for leftists to collectively confront Trump and Trumpism at every possible opportunity. When a Trump administration attempts mass deportations of undocumented workers, when it attempts to register Muslims or roll back worker protections, when it attempts to take away reproductive, LGTBQ, civil, or any other rights, then we must militantly resist to prevent such measures.

To succeed, this must be explicitly socialist resistance. With liberalism having repeatedly shown itself incapable of combating the far right, it is now the time for socialists to openly declare our place in building the mass, multi-racial, and working class movement necessary for defeating the Trump administration. In this struggle, millennials will play an outsized role. That is why this conference comes at such a critical time—together we must create spaces for democratic and strategic discussion, spaces to gain organizing skills, and most importantly, spaces to form networks of young radicals for the future struggles ahead. These spaces will only come together if socialists come together. Join us this Presidents Weekend and help ignite the movement to defeat the Trump administration, continue the political revolution, and build the socialist alternative.

Key Deadlines

  • January 8th: Travel Scholarship for Air Travel (for application see below)
  • January 15th: Travel Scholarship for Non-Air Travel (ex: bus, car, train, etc.)
  • February 3rd: Early Bird Registration Ends - Tickets prices go up from $5 to $10
  • February 10th: Free Housing - We have limited free housing. You need to first register, then you will be sent an application for free housing.

Apply for a travel scholarship here! (First Deadline January 8, 2017)

Check out the working program (subject to change)