Donald Trump continues to allegedly “Make America Great Again” by making major changes to the Department of Education with his controversial appointment of billionaire Betsy DeVos, who announced the rollback of student loan borrowers protections put in place by the Obama administration.
The secretary of education advises the president on education policy and legislation for public and private schools grades K-12. The SOE would also be in charge of federal funding for college in the form of grants, loans and the work-study program.
Education funding is mainly left up to the states, with only 3 percent of the federal government’s budget going toward education, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. This means that hopefully DeVos won’t completely ruin America’s education system. It seems as though she has already taken a step in the wrong direction. According to The Washington Post, she has scaled back protections for those who have taken out student loans. For example, there would be “financial incentives” for student loan agencies to target people who are in great risk of defaulting their loans.
One major priority DeVos has is providing options outside of traditional public school, also known as “school choice.” School choice is exactly what the name says. School choice gives parents options for where their child(ren) would attend school. The school district or county would not dictate where the child would attend school. School choice also lets parents choose among private, public or charter schools.
This concept does not sound too bad, yet it is still a controversial topic. Under DeVos’ plan, parents could choose the best school for their kids and will not be limited by county or school district. On the other hand, private schools are very expensive and also do not have to accept certain students.
Personally, I am worried how the Department of Education will continue college funding programs and loan services. During her Senate confirmation hearings, DeVos stated that she has never taken out a loan for her education and neither have her kids. She also has never needed a Pell Grant (federal funding for a person’s undergraduate degree). This worries me because, how can she be in charge of funding and programs that she doesn’t have any experience with or knowledge of?
During his presidency, President Obama created multiple policies and programs to help make higher education more affordable for more people. He did this because both and he and the former first lady had experienced taking out and repaying loans for college. Not saying that DeVos cannot research how federal loans for education work, yet the thought is still troubling. To me, when you have no experience of how student loans operate, you will not be inclined to advocate for the lessening of student loan debt or for student debt relief programs such as the Obama administration did.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 40.2 percent of all undergraduates receive aid in the form of federal loans. When I attended college, the only financial aid I received was federal aid.
Private loans were not an option for me because nobody in my family who was willing to help take out a loan for me had good enough credit to even qualify. At the end of the day, the federal loan program is many students’ only options for financial aid. I truly hope, qualified or not, that DeVos can instill policies that will benefit everybody. Hopefully DeVos will do more good than harm during her role as America’s Secretary of Education.
Keana Martin-Sanders is 19 years old and has an obsession with New Edition’s song “Can You Stand The Rain.”