40 Years Later, Student Loans Remain a Priority

    “No qualified student who wants to go to college should be barred by lack of money. That has long been a great American goal; I propose that we achieve it now.”- President Nixon March 19, 1970

    In a move President Nixon would have gladly approved of, members of the Senate agreed to a compromise on Wednesday, which would result in lower student loan interest rates through 2015. The decision comes nearly three weeks after rates doubled on July 1 due to the failure of Congress to reach a new deal.

    A vote on the agreement is expected to take place within the next week.

    Under the agreement, undergraduates attending college in the fall would borrow at 3.85% interest rates. Graduate students would have access to loans at 5.4%, while the rate for parents would be set at 6.4%.

    Throughout his time in the White House, President Nixon advocated for the importance of student loans and the expansion of their availability.

    On March 19, 1970, President Nixon spoke to Congress on the topic of higher education, where he stressed the importance of financial aid to prospective college students and laid out the foundations for his proposed Higher Education Opportunity Act of 1970.

    President Nixon’s proposals pertaining to higher education student loans were:
    1. The expansion and restructuring of student aid to assist lower income students.
    2. The formation of a National Student Loan Association that would allow students to acquire government guaranteed loans. The funds available for this would be increased by $1 Billion in the first year and continue to rise in the following years.

    “As we enter a new decade, we have a rare opportunity to review and reform the Federal role in post-secondary education…The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 1970 would accomplish this purpose. In addition, it would consolidate and modernize a number of other Federal programs that affect higher education. Through it, I propose to systematize and rationalize the Federal government’s role in higher education for the first time… We must join with our creative and demanding young people to build a system of higher education worthy of the ideals of the people in it.” – President Nixon March 19, 1970

    Despite President Nixon’s efforts, Congress limited its action in 1970 to strictly holding hearings on education proposals due to the fact that the Higher Education Act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, was not set to expire until the summer of 1971.

    However, President Nixon would eventually see parts of his original proposal enacted into law on June 23, 1972 with the signing of the Education Amendments of 1972.


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