MEDIA RELEASE: Justice Center urges Gov. Perdue to veto anti-student loan bill

 Justice Center urges Gov. Perdue to veto anti-student loan bill

House Bill 7 and Senate Bill 74 would allow NC community colleges to opt out of providing federal loans. This would undermine education and job training for working families.
 
RALEIGH (April 11, 2011) – In a letter delivered today, the NC Justice Center urged Gov. Beverly Perdue to veto legislation that would undermine federal loan opportunities for community college students across North Carolina.
 
House Bill 7 and Senate Bill 74 would allow community college campuses to opt out of the federal loan program. “Without access to federal loans, many students will have to put their tuition on high-interest credit cards, and that debt could hamper their ability to contribute to the state's economy for years to come,” the letter reads.
 
The full text of the letter to Gov. Perdue follows.             
 
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Dear Governor Perdue,
 
North Carolina’s community college system has a long history of preparing students young and old for participation in the state’s economy. Community colleges have played a particularly important role as North Carolina’s economy has transformed and, more recently, stalled. As demand for more skills and education are required for living wage jobs, access to an affordable education at community colleges will be increasingly important.
 
Unfortunately, at the time of greatest need, North Carolina’s community colleges have become more expensive. Tuition has increased more than 17 percent since 2005 and the latest legislation to pass out of the General Assembly will remove a critical tool that makes a community college education affordable: access to the federal loan program.
 
We are writing to urge you to veto House Bill 7 and Senate Bill 74.
 
House Bill 7 and Senate Bill 74 would allow community college campuses to opt-out of the federal loan program. Nearly half of the students at community colleges do not have access to the program because their campuses don’t offer the product. Without access to federal loans, many students will have to put their tuition on high-interest credit cards, and that debt could hamper their ability to contribute to the state's economy for years to come.
 
The state’s constitution reads that higher education should remain “free as far as practicable.” Putting in place a barrier for students to access a federally funded program that can minimize the costs to the education that can lead to a family-sustaining job goes against the spirit of that vision. And that vision, of a more universal access to education, is of ever-greater importance as North Carolina aims to compete globally with a workforce prepared for the jobs of the future.
 
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The full text of the letter in PDF form is also available online below.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Alexandra Forter Sirota, Director, NC Budget & Tax Center 919.856.1468, Alexandra@ncjustice.org; Bill Rowe, Director of Advocacy, NC Justice Center, 919.856.2177, bill@ncjustice.org Jeff Shaw, Director of Communications, NC Justice Center, jeff@ncjustice.org919.863-2402 (office) 503.551.3615 (mobile).