Contacts: Staci Maiers, NEA Communications 202-270-5333 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org; Claudia Briggs, CTA Communications 916-296-4087 cell, email@example.com; Becky Zoglman, CTA Communications 415-298-3504 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org
BURLINGAME—National Education Association President-elect Lily Eskelsen García along with California Teachers Association President Dean E. Vogel unveiled Thursday at Southern and Northern California news conferences, the Degrees Not Debt program designed to reduce student loan debt through loan forgiveness programs, lower-repayment plans and reinvesting in higher education so college is affordable for all. Additionally, California’s educators announced plans for a statewide week of action this October aimed at educating students about options available to alleviate the burdensome student loans and exorbitant rates.
“Twenty years ago, the average college students were graduating with $9,450 in debt. I think when I graduated in 1990, I had much less than that,” said Eskelsen Garcia. “Today the average university student will graduate with more than $30,000 in debt. There are students that graduate with hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt.”
Student loan debt exceeds $1.2 trillion and has surpassed credit card debt nationwide as college costs skyrocket and federal student aid lags. Students are forced to borrow staggering amounts of money to pay for higher education. The average student owes $35,000, but some report owing ten times as much. At these levels student debt isn’t just a burden, it’s a barrier to millions of middle-class Americans seeking college degrees and career preparation.
“It’s not right when banks are making more from a college education that students are. As educators, we care about our students and their futures” said Vogel. “We will not sit by and watch as fear of paying for a higher education gets in the way of pursing one.”
Both NEA and CTA are calling for:
- Increasing need-based federal aid, like Pell Grants
- Expanding loan forgiveness programs for those working in public service careers like education.
- Allowing the refinancing of student loans for lower-interest rates. We can refinance loans on homes and cars,but not student loans.
Increasing state support for higher education, so tuition rates can drop after years of unprecedented increases, allowing more kids can go on to college.
In support of the students and educators, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson joined Eskelsen García and Vogel along with 100 California educators at an Oakland, CA news conference to kick off the state and national campaign, Degrees Not Debt, which is supported by NEA, California Teachers Association, Student CTA, California Faculty Association, California Community College Association and a coalition of education and community organizations.
We ask all Californians to join us in this effort to ensure college affordability. Start today by joining the Degrees Not Debt campaign and signing the online pledge at www.NEA.org/degreesnotdebt.
The 325,000-member CTA is affiliated with the nearly 3 million-member National Education Association