Gabrielle Chenault | Local and World Editor
“To be frank, we students just need help.” Hayden Cochran, a junior from Virginia State University, is one of the many students in the United States who faces financial issues when it comes to college.
At a roundtable discussion hosted by Congressman Bobby Scott and Hampton University, with the theme of the Higher Education Act, many repre- sentatives from colleges across Virginia were present. Students and adminis- trators from schools such as Hampton University, Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University, Virgin- ia State University, Paul D. Camp Community College, Thomas Nelson Community College and Christopher Newport University were present to advocate for the reauthorization of this act.
Student debt is currently at $1.7 billion in the United States and contin- ues to rise. As the cost of attendance rises, more and more students are forced to take out loans to pay for their schooling. Because the United States is putting less funds into education, there are fewer grants available. Due to student loans being so expensive, many students are dropping out.
“I came to Hampton University with seven of my closest friends, and now it’s only two of us,” said Bruce Wilson, HU’s SGA vice president.
Wilson explained how he has seen many of his friends drop out due to the financial burden and not enough grants being available. Congressman Scott explained that the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act will aid many students financially.
“One of the goals of this act is to increase and adjust the Pell Grant,” Scott said. “We will also create a policy so it increases with inflation to best serve the students who need it.”
This act was first created by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964. The original goal was to help students of all financial backgrounds receive a college education. It also was supposed to be reauthorized every five years.
Due to Congress not working together, the act hasn’t been reauthorized since 2008. The cost of college has ris- en significantly since then, and students are often forced to take out expensive loans or even drop out. Although loans cannot be eliminated, Congressman Scott offered some ideas to help limit the financial burden.
“We want to limit the fees on loans and make them cheaper and more accessible,” he said.
Something else this act plans to do is help students who attended community college and HBCUs. Congress- man Scott said that something he is proposing is to offer two free years at is putting less funds into education, there are fewer grants available. Due to student loans being so expensive, many students are dropping out.
Moreover, with the reauthorization of this act, it will aid more students in obtaining a degree. With the inflation in the Pell Grant, offering free school- ing for two years and making loans cheaper, this will help the act follow its original goal of making college accessi- ble to students no matter their financial background.