Showing posts with label HBCU. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HBCU. Show all posts

Thursday, January 28, 2021

The Parent Plus Program was a policy blunder that hurts low-income and African American families: Shut It down

Our government's Parent PLUS Program is an insidious scheme to lure low-income parents into taking out student loans so their kids can go to colleges they can't afford.

 Insider Higher Ed's Kery Murakami tells the story of Ewan Johnson, whose mother owes $150,000 in Parent PLUS loans--money she borrowed so her son could get a degree from Temple University in strategic communications and political science.

As Johnson related, he comes from "a low economic background." Will his mother will ever pay off her Parent PLUS loans? I doubt it.

Johnson's mother is one of 3.6 million parents who collectively owe more than $96 billion in Parent PLUS loans. For the most part, parents aren't taking out these loans so their kids can attend elite
private schools like Harvard. 
"Rather," as Wall Street Journal reporters Andrea Fuller and Josh Mitchell observed, "they include art schools, historically Black colleges and private colleges where parents are borrowing nearly six-figure amounts to fulfill their children's college dreams . . "

Indeed, African American parents are hurt the most by the Parent PLUS Program. The WSJ reported that 20 percent of African American parents who took out Parent PLUS program in 2003-2004 defaulted on their loans by 2015.  

Default rates for some colleges are exceptionally high. A New America study found that 30 percent of Parent PLUS borrowers at 15 institutions default within two years!

Should all this debt--nearly $100 billion--be forgiven? President Biden proposes to knock $10,000 off of every federal student loan, but it is unclear with his plan includes people with Parent PLUS loans. 

Policymakers worry that forgiving all Parent PLUS debt will unfairly benefit wealthy families who have the resources to pay back their loans.  Sandy Baum, a student-loan expert, said that forgiving all Parent PLUS debt would be "outrageous."

Hardly anyone suggests that we just eliminate this dodgy government boondoggle that exploits low-income and minority families.  

So why don't we just make one straightforward reform? Let's allow parents who wrecked their financial futures so their kids could attend the wrong college to discharge their Parent PLUS loans in bankruptcy




Saturday, December 5, 2020

Parent Plus Loans at Historically Black Colleges: Should Parents Jeopardize Their Financial Future so their Children Can Go to an HBCU?

Andrea Fuller and Josh Mitchell of the Wall Street Journal have done some excellent reporting over the years on the student-loan crisis. Fuller and Miller recently published a WSJ article about poor and middle-class parents who take on substantial debt to help pay their children's college expenses. Most of these parents signed up for Parent Plus loans offered by the U.S. Department of Education.

You might think that parents whose children are enrolled at elite private colleges would be the ones with the biggest Parent Plus loans, but you would be wrong. According to Fuller and Mitchell,

The schools with the largest parent debt burdens aren't world-famous Ivy League schools . . . Rather, they include art schools, historically Black colleges and small private colleges where parents are borrowing nearly six-figure amounts to fulfill their children's college dreams . . . .

According to the article, the college where parents borrowed the most money for their children's schooling was Spelman College in Georgia, a historically Black institution.  Among parents who took out federal loans for their kids, the average amount was $112,127.  Among low-income families, the average amount was more than $83,000.

Keep in mind that the money parents borrow through the Parent Plus program is in addition to the student loans that their children took out themselves. 

Fuller and Mitchell's article contains a handy feature that allows readers to type in the name of an American college and learn the average amount of parent debt at that institution. I ran the numbers for some prominent HBCUs, and parent debt at several of these institutions is quite high.

Median By School

All Recipients

Low-Income Recipients

Spelman College, GA

$112,127

$83,894

Morehouse College, GA

$79,000

$48,862

Howard University, DC

$66,728

$52,145

Hampton University, VA

$73,244

$47,974

Clark Atlanta University, GA

$66,359

$40,095

Johnson C. Smith University

$28,586

$20,166

These numbers are disturbing. Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that the Wall Street Journal's school-reporting mechanism had no figures at all for several HBCUs.  For example, the feature reported no data for Jarvis Christian College in northeastern Texas; Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas; and Miles College in Alabama. All three colleges are HBCUs.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, 20 percent of African American parents who took out  Parent Plus loans in 2003-2004 defaulted on those loans by 2015. In other words, Black parents who take out Parent Plus loans to help their kids pay for college are running a one-in-five chance of being financially ruined.

All progressive-minded people support the historically Black colleges and universities and believe they should be adequately funded. But we should also think about the students who attend HBCUs and their parents as well. 

Perhaps the best thing we could do to protect African American parents from risking their own financial security would be to eliminate the Parent Plus loan program altogether.