Congress Quietly Passes Major Student Loan Reform

The passage of the health care reform bill has understandably gotten most of the attention this week. We're going to hear a lot more about it through the fall elections. Not only will the new law have a huge impact the American health care system, but both parties have gone all in on the fight over health care. The Democrats plan to campaign on their victory, will the Republicans have pledged to repeal the bill and have begun to mount challenges to the bills constitutionality. Already the Democratic National Committee has raised over $2 million online since the bill passed, while the Republicans have brought in $1.3 million with their "Fire Nancy Pelosi" campaign. Lost in the shuffle was something the House tacked on to the health care bill: major reform of the student loan system.

The reform would eliminate fees to private banks that issue student loans. Instead of paying banks to act as middlemen for student loans, the government would expand its direct lending program—a step that according to the Congressional Budget Office would save $61 billion in loans. Most of that money would then be funneled into increasing the amount of Pell grants for to help people with low incomes attend college and grad school. In addition, the bill would help people with student loans by lowering the amount they have to pay each month. The Associated Press calls it "the biggest piece of education legislation since No Child Left Behind nine years ago." And Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, said it was a "chance to make the single largest investment in college affordability ever at no cost to the taxpayers."

This kind of reform has been strongly opposed by the banks who act as middlemen, for whom the old student loan system was easy money. It's actually a somewhat more modest version of a bill that the House passed a year ago. But that bill never passed the Senate because it didn't have the votes to overcome a Republican filibuster. Because the latest reforms were added to the health care bill, they have to get only a simple majority in the Senate and are almost certain to pass. The private lenders who opposed the measure complain that it will mean eliminating financial services jobs. But the truth is that many of those jobs amount to little more than taking a cut as money going from the government to students. This reform will mean that more of the government's money will represent a real investment in the skills of our workforce.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

What’s behind our appetite for self-destruction?

Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Each new year, people vow to put an end to self-destructive habits like smoking, overeating or overspending.

Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Photo: Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less

Douglas Rushkoff – It’s not the technology’s fault

It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.

Think Again Podcasts
  • It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
  • Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
Keep reading Show less