Alexander Says College Is More Affordable Than Most Students Think

Thursday, March 27, 2014

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander Thursday said that college is more affordable than most students think, arguing that “perspective” was necessary in the discussion over whether overborrowing by college students is a serious problem.

Senator Alexander said, “I don’t think I’ve ever run into anybody who said it’s pretty easy to pay for college. My experience is probably like everybody else’s: I had no money, so I had two scholarships and five jobs to try to make my way through. But college is more affordable than most students think.”

Senator Alexander, in a hearing Thursday of the Senate education committee where he is the senior Republican, explained that about 40 percent of college students “attend community colleges where the average tuition and fees are under $3,300. Those students receive an average of $4,800 in grants and scholarships, so that the average community college student in America is receiving about $1,500 more in grants and scholarships than it costs in tuition and fees. In fact, Governor Haslam is working to advertise that in our state so that he can encourage more people to go to college. Another 37 percent of college students attend public four-year universities. The average in-state tuition and fees is about $8,900, and those students receive on average $5,800 in grants and scholarships, leaving them to pay $3,100 on average, in tuition and fees.”

Senator Alexander said that, according to the New York Federal Reserve, at the end of 2012, “Forty percent of borrowers had [student loan] debt of less than $10,000; 70 percent had a debt of less than $25,000; and less than four percent had a debt of more than $100,000.”

Adding further context to those figures, Senator Alexander cited the College Board’s finding that the average college graduate “earns more than a million dollars more over a lifetime” than those without college degrees.

The senator continued: “It’s important for students to know as they think about going to college that it can be affordable and most students don’t have to borrow too much money if they borrow wisely.” 

Senator Alexander, a former president of the University of Tennessee and U.S. education secretary under President George H.W. Bush, expressed interest in studying further what he believes to be the real problem: “An Inspector General’s report from the U.S. Department of Education warns that some students borrow excessively for personal expenses not related to their education. That is a growing phenomenon. So, overborrowing may be partly the result of government policy and I think in future hearings we should talk about various ways that have been suggested to limit the overborrowing that saddles some students with too much debt, such as the current practice of allowing students who are enrolled part-time to take out as much in federal loans as a full-time student, or perhaps we should provide colleges with the authority to set some borrowing limits. These are things we will have to discuss.”

Thursday’s hearing was the eighth in a series of hearings the committee is holding on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.


Georgia Northwestern Offers "Free Leap Day"

Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) is offering "Free Leap Day" to help community members earn their GED diploma. On Feb. 29, any student or potential student may take any of the GED practice tests free of charge. Call one of the following centers to schedule an appointment.   Catoosa County – Ringgold – (706) 965-6155 extension 7 Chattooga County ... (click for more)

UTC Students To Be Honored At Stophel Scholarship Reception Thursday

Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, P.C. will host the Chattanooga business community to honor and recognize 10 UTC students who have shown dedication and excellence in their studies.  The Stophel Scholars program connects students to leaders in Chattanooga’s business community and a reception will be held Thursday from 5:30-7 p.m. at Chambliss Conference Center, Liberty ... (click for more)

State's TNReady Testing Program Has "Severe Network Outage"; Testing To Be By Pencil And Paper

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said Monday afternoon that the state's TNReady testing program had suffered "a severe network outage." Commissioner Edwards said the testing will go on, but it will have to be done with pencil and paper. She sent this email to school directors across the state: Directors, Thank you for your patience as we faced technical ... (click for more)

Brandon Bettis, 25, Arrested For Home Invasion; 2 Other Suspects Being Sought

Brandon Bettis, 25, was arrested after a home invasion early Monday morning, and two other suspects are being sought. Chattanooga Police responded to the 1100 block of Thomas Lane at 6:30 a.m. on the report of a home invasion robbery.  The suspects entered the home of the victims, James Shrum, 47, and Hillary Schooley, 25.   The victims were wakened and threatened ... (click for more)

The City Failed To Watch The Chattanooga History Museum Dollars - And Response (3)

The tell tale signs of the History Museum's folly have been evident for years. When I was a former member of City Council I interviewed Dr. Daryl Black, Ph.D. to determine if I should argue for or against the annual funding of his organization. His interview, the multi-year history of administrative non-performance (despite consistent repetitive funding), and a review of the organizational ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Momma Bears Roar

If I could count Hamilton County’s best educators on one hand, Normal Park Elementary Principal Jill Levine would be the biggest finger. What she and her faculty and a dazzling commitment from both her students and parents have accomplished is an educational dream. I am told people literally move to North Chattanooga just so their children will be zoned for the award-winning school. ... (click for more)