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.


New $1.1 Million Gift Establishes W. Max Finley Chair For Excellence In American Business At UTC

Continuing a legacy of support for UTC, a $1.1 million gift from the Finley family has created the W. Max Finley Chair for Excellence in American Business to honor the entrepreneurial energy and career of the late W. Max Finley, former chairman of the RockTenn Corporation.  The W. Max Finley Chair will employ or retain a distinguished faculty member for the UTC College of ... (click for more)

Piedmont College Singers In Concert On March 2

The Piedmont College Singers, a select 44-voice chorus from Piedmont College in Demorest, Ga, will be performing at Pilgrim Congregational Church on Monday, March 2, at 7 p.m. as part of their spring tour. The concert is free and open to the public.  The choral group is led by Dr. C. Wallace Hinson, conductor. "This select ensemble performs a wide variety of literature from ... (click for more)

Signal Council, Residents Concerned About Unsafe Driving En Route To Schools

The town council of Signal Mountain is dealing with a traffic problem caused by increased traffic to and from Signal Mountain Middle High School and Nolan Elementary. Mayor Dick Gee said, “This is a tough issue that we wouldn’t have to deal with if everyone would drive responsibility.”   The main concern is for safety and in November the council agreed to try to fix ... (click for more)

88-Year-Old Woman In Bradley County Severely Burned After Going Back In Burning House For Pets

Two people were injured in a house fire in Bradley County on Friday.   Shortly before noon, Bradley County EMS responded to a reported house fire on Hancock Road.   Two ambulances and a shift commander responded. Initial reports were that there were two people injured. When EMS crews arrived, Bradley County firefighters were performing resuscitative ... (click for more)

We Ought To Pay Our Own Way

The government is too big. It has never been bigger - by any measure. It spends more money than any other single actor in our society. From Blue Rhinos to providing telecommunications services, our government knows no bounds. We’ve gone from a free enterprise system to a public enterprise system.  I'm not an artist. I'm not terribly tech savvy. The part of government that ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our 92-Year-Old Victim

It is with great pride, and far greater relief, that I can report a “caretaker” is far different than a “boyfriend.” A story out of Memphis earlier this week morphed into a virtual fireball that had such power it appeared on the front page on a London newspaper and other news outlets all around the world when it was reported by the Associated Press a 28-year-old man had assaulted ... (click for more)