Graduate Students: Getting the Short End of the Stick

25 Oct

While my previous posts have largely focused on higher education in terms of undergraduate programs, I’d like to turn your attention now to the situation for graduate students in the United States today.  With the issues concerning education in the current election mainly concerning K-12 education and the accessibility of an undergraduate education, the financial conditions for graduate students seem to have fallen away from the limelight.  That is until Congress voted this summer to now make graduate students responsible for paying the interest that accumulates on their loans while in school.  This elimination of subsidized loans for graduate students was part of the debt ceiling compromise decided on by President Obama and Congress.  The reasoning behind this budget cut is that out of all the cuts possible, this one would pose the least problems.  I understand that the taking away of subsidized loans from graduate students allows funding for the Pell Grant program to remain the same, and I strongly support the Pell Grant program, but I do not support eliminating help for some students to provide more help to others.  I oppose the government on this decision because the burden of attracting more students has now increased for graduate schools.  This budget cut moved $125 billion from subsidized to unsubsidized loans for graduate students.  With graduate students now having to pay back not only their loans but the interest that comes along with them, the amount of debt they could face after graduation has influenced many in whether or not they even pursue a graduate degree.  This is another reason I do not support this financial decision; making graduate school more difficult to pay for negatively impacts the amount of graduate degrees achieved by U.S. citizens.  People with graduate degrees are important to American society not only because of the advanced talent and knowledge they provide but also the competitive edge they give America in the world economy.  I realize that this budget cut will save the government $18  billion over 10 years, but I believe officials can work to find a better way to save this money than taking away from graduate students and hurting the competitiveness of the United States.  I am no financial or political expert so I’m not sure what a “better way” would be, but I believe the next leader of the United States should strongly consider the importance of graduate students and their degrees before taking away their subsidized loans.

To see how rising costs for graduate students is impacting one North Carolina university already, click here.


2 Responses to “Graduate Students: Getting the Short End of the Stick”

  1. theironbaker October 25, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    That’s crazy. I also don’t support this new unsubsidized loan process, and it’s ridiculous for congress to think that graduate students would be capable of paying off those kinds of loans. Then again, many graduate students have a job, or a steady income of some sort, therefore many would be able to pay small deposits towards that loan.

    • mixedupmind October 28, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

      Thank you for your feedback. I’m glad you brought up the point that many graduate students have a steady income as compared to the majority of undergraduate students who do not. Perhaps this is the reason why the government determined this budget cut would be the least harmful of all of the options? I will need to do further research on this. While graduate students would be able to make small deposits, your comment causes me to wonder about how different the amounts of these loans and deposits will be for each student. I will need to investigate how the cost of tuition varies among different types of graduate education.

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