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.

Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote the video, or videos, you want to win.

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in. And note: We'll only count upvotes (not downvotes).

Keep reading Show less
Videos
  • Oumuamua, a quarter-mile long asteroid tumbling through space, is Hawaiian for "scout", or "the first of many".
  • It was given this name because it came from another solar system.
  • Some claimed Oumuamua was an alien technology, but there's no actual evidence for that.

Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
Keep reading Show less

7 fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Here are 7 often-overlooked World Heritage Sites, each with its own history.

Photo by Raunaq Patel on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites are locations of high value to humanity, either for their cultural, historical, or natural significance.
  • Some are even designated as World Heritage Sites because humans don't go there at all, while others have felt the effects of too much human influence.
  • These 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites each represent an overlooked or at-risk facet of humanity's collective cultural heritage.
Keep reading Show less