Congress Pussyfooting On Federal Student Aid

Although President Obama has declared his interest and commitment in ensuring that students are able to afford college education, it doesn’t seems to be panning out that way and as is repeatedly said on Main Street, “talk is cheap.”

Now, this is what the President said in 2009, “We will provide the support necessary for you to complete college and meet a new goal: by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.”

However, as noble an ideal this goal is unless there is support from Congress, all the President has is talk because it’s the Congress that controls the wallet.

At the same time, one must question the inertia among students in lobbying for their own cause – that of affordable education.

Photo credit; Wikipedia.
Photo credit; Wikipedia.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) voices are heard in the corridors of power in their call for human rights, so too are the voices of illegal immigrants who are fighting for immigration reform. Where are the voices of students regarding the inaction of Congress on a bill that directly affects them?

Is it that students have become indifferent to their own personal interest and couldn’t care a damn about the decisions of politicians to whom they give their votes? Or, is it that students have become too obsessed with their play stations, social media and cell phones and therefore, couldn’t care less about the cost of their education or could it be they are just suffering from Rip Van Winkle syndrome?

The fact is Congress is pussyfooting with the Higher Education Act which is up for reauthorization when it expires at the end of 2014.

The act, originally signed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, authorizes federal financial aid programs, such as Pell Grants, federal student loans, and federal work-study. It was last reformed in 2008.

However, the act is now up for renewal and there are no plans by Congress to meet and have the bill renewed. The truth is everything in Congress is on hold until next year. Why? – Simply put, members of Congress are busy jockeying for reelection in November, thus putting first their personal interest over that of the people.

But, herein lies the irony, it’s the students, parents, guardians, and other stakeholder’s votes that these members of Congress will be seeking to get them reelected.

The sad part, however, the electorate will not see the unfinished business of members of Congress as a referendum on their ineptitude and slothfulness.

So, there is no deal and politicians are once again let off the hook to continue to serve their party’s as well as their own interest rather than that of the people.

The people get the Congress they deserve – enjoy your recess members of Congress!

Davy Desmond, Readers Bureau, Senior Fellow

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