Wednesday, August 03, 2016

The Taxpayers' Tuition Burden

The estimated average annual cost for instate students at a public university is now over $19,000, and for students attending a private university the cost jumps to an average of $44,000. With the ever-rising cost of college, many students are taking on low-interest government loans. Currently 93% of all student loans are government owned, with total outstanding loan debt standing at over $1.2 trillion.

It’s easy to get lost in the numbers, but what is clear is that students are taking on more debt than ever before to earn a bachelor’s degree. To make matters worse, less than 19% of all students earn their degree within four years, and for every extra year spent at a public university a student adds an estimated $22,826 in costs.

If this news weren’t concerning enough, the number of students who have defaulted on loan repayments should be. This past school year, 43% of students with federal loans were either in default, delinquency or had postponed payment — to the tune of over $200 billion. And guess who picks up the bill? Taxpayers, who ultimately back any government loan.

During the Obama administration, the burden on taxpayers has only worsened due to the expansion of the income-based repayment program, which caps at 10% of discretionary income what borrowers are required to repay each year. That’s coupled with the loan-debt forgiveness program for undergraduates, who have remaining loan debt forgiven after 20 years. Those who enter work in the public sector can receive loan debt forgiveness after only 10 years.

What this all means is that an alarmingly growing amount of the cost of college is now being covered by taxpayers. This is the result of the government seeking to promise greater access to education by covering costs, and through easy-access student loans and loan forgiveness programs, which in turn has encouraged universities to increase the overall cost of education. Is it any wonder so many young people are calling for “free” college? Half of them already aren’t paying for it.


New law to allow concealed handguns on Texas campuses

Texas will allow holders of concealed-handgun licenses to carry their weapons into public university buildings, classrooms, and dorms starting Monday, which is also the 50th anniversary of the mass shooting at the University of Texas’ landmark clock tower.

The campus-carry law pushed by Governor Greg Abbott and the Republican legislative majority will make Texas one of a handful of states that guarantee the right to carry concealed guns on campus.

Anyone who holds a Texas handgun license will be able to have a concealed hangun on campus.

To get a license, a person must be at least 21 (18 if in the military) and pass both classroom and gun range training courses. There are also restrictions on convicted felons, people charged with felonies, and high-level misdemeanors, or people with a history of mental illness.

Texas has more than 1 million holders of concealed handgun licenses.

Generally speaking, the law allows guns in buildings, classrooms, and dorms, but rules may differ from campus to campus, as each school is required to map that out.

For example, at the University of Texas at Austin, where faculty and students vigorously protested the law, teachers will be allowed to declare their offices as gun-free zones, but most will post signs announcing it.

Dorm residents can have guns in common areas, such as dining areas and lounges, but not sleeping rooms, where no storage of weapons is allowed. Exceptions to the room restrictions will be made for visiting family members who are licensed to carry handguns.

At Texas A&M University, guns are allowed in dorm rooms and teachers must get permission to ban guns from their office.


Australian TV host has questioned a school scholarship aimed at LGBTI students

SONIA Kruger has unleashed controversy on morning television yet again, this time laying into a scholarship program for LGBTI high school students.

The television host slammed the scholarship as “reverse discrimination” on the Today Extra show this morning, two weeks after her call for a ban on Muslim immigration sparked a widespread backlash.

Dubbing the program “odd”, Kruger said she did not understand why a $7000 scholarship was being reserved for a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex student.

“I don’t think it should have anything to do with the awarding of a scholarship,” Kruger said. “I thinks scholarships should be given on merit.”

Her comments followed today’s front-page story in The Australian, which revealed that the Australian Business and Community Network Scholarship Foundation had reserved a place in its Year 10 scholarship program for an LGBTI student.

Family Voice Australia criticised the scholarship as “another example of ideological activism making its way into schools”.

The lobby group’s national policy officer Damian Wyld argued it was inappropriate for children to “be asked to declare their sexuality or gender identity”.

“Why should children, especially in a school setting, be asked to declare their sexuality or gender identity? Many 15-year-olds are still working through issues around sexuality,” Mr Wyld told The Australian. “Offering a financial ­incentive to identify as ‘lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and/or intersex’ is completely inappropriate.”

The scholarship application form, which must be filled out by the school principal, includes a question about sexual orientation. Applicants have the option of choosing “prefer not to say”.

Kruger’s co-host David Campbell disagreed with her position, arguing that the ABCN’s decision to allocate a single scholarship for a LGBTI student was “hardly a big deal”.

“There are tonnes of other scholarships that are set aside for kids who are supremely talented,” Campbell said, rattling off a number of sport-based programs.

Chris Pycroft from the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby applauded the ABCN and its corporate backers, saying that the socio-economic disadvantage suffered by LGBTI students often went unrecognised.

“The research shows that the significant majority of these high school students do experience abuse because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Mr Pycroft told

“The impacts of homophobia, discrimination, harassment is often not considered and the implications are not often realised.”

According to Beyond Blue, LGBTI young people have dramatically higher rates of depression and anxiety than their heterosexual peers, with same-sex attracted Australians up to 14 times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population.

Mr Pycroft said school bullying remained a major stress for young people grappling with their sexuality, and that while there was “more of a general acceptance of gay people within society”, this had not filtered down to the schoolyard.

He dismissed criticisms of the scholarship program as being part of an LGBTI push to expose school students to “politically motivated ideologies”, and argued that it was wholly appropriate for Year 10 students to discuss their sexual identities if they chose to.

“There’s a difference between a politically motivated ideology and people simply being who they are,” Mr Pycroft said.

ABCN offers mentoring and financial assistance to students across Australia, with financial backing from companies including Optus, Microsoft and PricewaterhouseCoopers. The Scholarship Foundation has awarded 41 scholarships since its inception in 2013.


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