FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, April 11, 2014

CONTACTS:

Anthony Owens
202.210.0862
Anthony.Owens@uncf.org

WE NEED MORE LOW INCOME COLLEGE GRADUATES; THEY NEED PARENT PLUS

UNCF strongly disagrees with the New America Foundation's suggestion in its April 3 EdCentral blog post, "PLUS Loans are not Grants," that low-income parents who want to invest in their children's college education through the Parent PLUS Loan program are misguided and need, for their own good, to be barred from PPL eligibility.

Low-income parents know that investing in a college education is one of the best things they can do for their children, increasing their chances of economic mobility. It would be better if Pell Grants and other grant programs had kept pace with the cost of college so that low-income parents didn't have to borrow. But they haven't, and it seems both cruel and counterproductive to punish these families by closing the door that Congress opened when it enacted the Parent PLUS Loan program. In fact, to protect parents from incurring excessive debt, UNCF has advocated in the ongoing Department of Education negotiations on Parent PLUS Loans that new loan counseling requirements be incorporated into the program, so that all parents who take out PLUS loans fully understand the terms and conditions of these loans and their repayment obligations

Nor is it productive to characterize UNCF's and its member HBCUs' Parent PLUS advocacy as "institutional self interest." Since its founding in 1944, UNCF has been dedicated to helping low-income African Americans go to and through college. Our HBCUs offer tuition levels that are on average 30 percent less than comparable institutions, and each year UNCF awards more than $100 million in need-based scholarships.

Casting accusations of deception and self-interest generates headlines but doesn't help to address these important issues. Instead, let's work together on solutions that make it easier, not harder, for more low-income students to go to college.

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