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Slow-jamming student blues

Slow-jamming student blues

The youtube clip of President Obama ‘slow-jamming’ the news has circulated on twitter. In it, President Obama calls for legislation to maintain the current low interest rate on Stafford student loans that benefit low-income students, especially African-American students (as reported in the Huffington Post). The lower interest rate is guaranteed by legislation that will shortly run out unless Republicans in Congress join with Democrats to renew it.

The President’s line that ‘now is not the time to make school more expensive for our young people’ has considerable resonance in England where the government’s drastic reduction of direct funding for taught programmes has led to significantly higher tuition fees and the leveraging of university income from future generations of students. English students will, on average, pay the highest university fees of any OECD country, including the USA.

The Coalition has sold this to the public on the basis of a ‘generous’ loan system that provides an income contingent repayment threshold of £21,000 and a favourable interest rate. However, as Andrew McGettigan has argued, these arrangements are not guaranteed, and can be changed by future governments. This is so not only for new cohorts of students, but also for existing holders of student loans.

Now is the time for government to set fixed repayment terms on student loans. Not a slow-jam as powerful as the President’s, and, of course, the real disgrace is the leveraging of university income from future generations of students to protect current taxpayers.

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