In collaboration with Big 10 schools, CSG releases statement on PROSPER Act

Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - 8:56pm

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Alice Liu/Daily

In collaboration with other student presidents of Big Ten universities, Daniel Greene, the University of Michigan’s Central Student Government president, released a letter Tuesday night opposing the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity through Education Reform Act.

Proposed by U.S. House of Representatives Republicans in 2017, the PROSPER Act aims to reform the Higher Education Act by simplifying federal aid for higher education.

According to the website of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, the legislation would streamline student aid by combining all current federal loan options into the ONE Loan program and offering a single repayment option. While the PROSPER Act would expand the Pell Grant program, it would cut Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, which assist the country’s lowest-income students. The PROSPER Act would also limit TRIO programs — sources of aid for students from disadvantaged backgrounds — and Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Tuesday’s letter, addressed to Paul Ryan, speaker of the House, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, expresses Big Ten student presidents’ dissatisfaction with the extent to which the PROSPER Act would slash federal programs. Similar letters of opposition have been released since U.S. House Republicans proposed the PROSPER Act. In an email interview with The Daily, Greene wrote he signed the Big Ten letter because the PROSPER Act threatens college affordability.

“We must improve the accessibility and inclusivity of higher education,” Greene wrote. “If enacted, the act would substantially reduce financial aid, placing an even greater burden on many students, especially low-income students.”

The Big Ten student presidents’ letter claims cuts to Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants and TRIO programs, both of which HEA provides, would hurt prospective students already facing setbacks.

“At its core, the HEA is a promise to students from low and middle income families that federal student aid programs will provide critical support in their pursuit of a postsecondary education,” the student body presidents wrote. “Unfortunately this legislation fails to uphold that fundamental principle. … Low income students and students of color deserve to be supported in their pursuit of higher education, not limited with more barriers.”

The letter also takes issue with the PROSPER Act’s proposed simplification of student loan payoff. If passed, the act would eliminate the federal in-school interest subsidy, which covers interest on student loans while undergraduates are enrolled. The Big Ten student presidents argued eliminating the subsidy would place undergraduates under excessive financial stress.

“Students should focus on their studies, not the compounding interest on their loans,” the authors wrote. “There is simply no reason that individuals seeking to better their education should be burdened with greater interest on their loans when they have yet to reap many of the benefits of a strong education, including a steady income.”

Greene said he was proud to publish a letter alongside other Big Ten student presidents, and added college accessibility is a priority of the University’s Central Student Government.

“CSG remains committed to making the University of Michigan more accessible to all students, and we will continue to address campus affordability in the coming year,” Greene wrote. “The cost of education should not be a deciding factor in choosing whether or not to attend college."

When reached for comment, University spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen said the opposition is spearheaded by students and maintained the students deserve all the credit.