College Dems: GW must confront the credit crunch

In a recent article, The Hatchet wrote of the ways in which the subprime mortgage crisis will affect the private education loans sector and students’ ability to pay The George Washington University’s exorbitant tuition (“GW preps for student loan scare,” Apr. 17, p. 1).

The members of the Executive Board of the GW College Democrats are disappointed by what we feel was a tepid response of University administrators quoted in the article. We are even more disturbed that the administration has not moved swiftly to reassure students with safeguards against the potentially devastating impact of the loan crisis.

The private lending agencies were once predatory and indiscriminate. They preyed upon students who couldn’t fill the gap with government-issued loans and institutional aid while driving interest rates up to obscene levels. They are now denying credit to the very students they rendered dependent on the promise of low-credit pre-approval. While their previous practices have obviously proven to be poor choices for the economy, someone must now help the “roughly 5 percent” of GW’s student population that is left without a way of financing the rest of their education.

In the article, University officials cite the $2,000 increase by the U.S. government for the Stafford loan limit. It should be emphasized that such reform has only been proposed and is unlikely to be adopted in time to relieve the crisis for students in the upcoming semester.

While we applaud the government’s efforts, the University should increase its own attempts to alleviate the burden that will in part be caused by its unusually high tuition. Top academic institutions, like Harvard University and Stanford University, are already developing plans to help students during this difficult time.

We are calling on the University to develop a plan which reacts proactively to the current credit crunch. Students should not return for the 2008-2009 school year unable to pay for GW or saddled with insurmountable debt.

We recommend providing students with additional financial counseling to cope with the loan crisis, along with increased visibility of the University’s plan and, if judged necessary, additional increases in the budget for financial aid. Although officials have shied away from “panicking,” they must enact smart solutions immediately.

This issue is especially important to the GW community with the rising tuition costs that force students to undertake private loans that have high interest rates. Beyond GW’s history and academic curriculum, what makes the school great is its students. GW boasts a diverse student population, both racially and economically. We are concerned as to how the student loan crisis will affect the vibrancy our student body.

At the root of this dilemma are the questions of college affordability. Without proper financial assistance and guidance, higher education will become an institution for a select few – something that belies our democratic values.

The College Democrats Executive Board

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