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Thoughts on the Student Aid Bill of Rights

Boy, I am such a sucker for well-executed rhetoric. I watched President Obama deliver remarks at Georgia Tech this week on his new presidential memorandum, the Student Aid Bill of Rights, and it was like a jumpstart for my idealistic heart to get pumping.
student bill of rights
First of all, let’s look at the title: Student Aid Bill of Rights. There’s some weight behind this, some gravity to the name that fills me with hope. I read this and I’m nodding my head vigorously, because yes, those ARE rights! Go AMERICA!
And second, you know I’m going to be weeping when the president drops a line like this: “Every American should have the right to go as far as their talents and hard work will take them. That is what college is all about. That is what America is all about.”
I felt buoyant after his brief speech—and why not? Sure, this memorandum certainly won’t fix everything that is wrong with financial aid or college tuition or access to higher education, not by a long shot. But it’s a start. It’s a move in the right direction.
Eventually, my elated heart gave way to my less sentimental brain. While the Student Aid Bill of Rights is a good step forward, especially because of its potential to help students to better manage debt, I have concerns about its effectiveness. I do wonder what the timeline looks like to truly work toward the first two points. Hopefully, this memorandum will set wheels in motion so that every American will actually have access to high quality, affordable education.
In the meantime, I’m trying to educate myself as much as possible about what the Student Aid Bill of Rights does and doesn’t mean for students, starting with these great reads:
6 Ways the New ‘Student Aid Bill Of Rights’ Will Help Borrowers
What’s missing in President Obama’s plan for student loan reform
What Obama’s ‘Student Aid Bill of Rights’ Will—and Won’t—Do
Obama’s Student Aid Bill of Rights: Long on Complexity, Short on Solutions