GOOD

Students in Tennessee and Chicago won’t have to wait for President Obama’s College Promise proposal for free community college to pass. The Chicago Star Scholarships and the Tennessee Promise program, both of which offer a serious financial break for college students, will kick off this fall, giving qualified applicants a chance to progress without the economic stress.

Image by Flickr user velkr0 via Creative Commons

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Community College Students Need Federal Loans, Too

Over one million community college students in 31 states can't borrow federal student loans. What gives with this unequal practice?


With the rising cost of college, paying tuition bills is a challenge for everybody these days. But students attending two-year community colleges have a much tougher time footing the bill than many of their peers attending four-year schools. According to the latest report from the Project on Student Debt, over one million students in 31 states attend community colleges that deny them the chance to borrow from federal student loan programs. This inequality forces community college students to pay for school via riskier and more expensive options, like private student loans and credit cards.

Federal loans are preferable to private loans because of their fixed interest rates, flexible repayment plans, and consumer protections. Community colleges are less expensive than four year schools, but cash strapped students unable to borrow part of the cost of tuition, books, and supplies often end up working longer hours, taking fewer classes, or dropping out of school entirely. Campus financial aid administrators justify their decision to opt out of offering federal loans by saying the predominantly low-income students of color attending community colleges—black and Native American students are most affected—might be prone to default.

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