By: Eric Segal  | 

Financial Assistance and the ‘84 Election (Vol. 50, Issue 2)

As students immersed in academic life we sometimes experience difficulties maintaining an awareness of world and domestic events. With presidential elections nearing, however, we would be wise to scrutinize the candidates opinions on issues that effect our lives. While undergraduate tuitions skyrocket and the cost of graduate schools rises at an alarming rate the issue of financial assistance assumes an increased importance to every one of us.

Under the Carter-Mondale administration, all college students, regardless of income, were eligible for guaranteed student loans. During the next three years, students borrowed fifteen billion dollars—more than the total amount borrowed in the preceding thirteen years.

Under Reagan’s directive Congress made two major changes in the guaranteed student loan program. Students from families earning annual incomes of thirty thousand dollars or more were subjected to a test of financial need. In addition, all students were required to pay a five per cent origination fee to the lender. These changes were, in part, responsible for a twenty-two per cent decrease in the volume of guaranteed student loans.

On the undergraduate level these changes have not directly affected Yeshiva students. According to Mr. Jack Nussbaum, Director of Student Finance, ‘‘On the undergraduate level, the (Reagan) administration has not cut any funding and/or programs that have affected the students of Yeshiva.” In fact, studies indicate that undergraduate financial assistance programs have kept pace with rising tuition and dorm costs, “The financial needs of the students”, said Mr. Nussbaum, “will be met by institutional, state and federal monies, all of which have increased.” The policy changes, however, ‘have adversely affected graduate and professional students who utilize a major portion of guaranteed student loans.

Although previous Reagan policies left undergraduates unaffected members of the administration recently proposed cuts in undergraduate financial assistance programs. The proposal includes a one billion dollar reduction in financial grants, and a one hundred million dollar cut in the work study Program. Administration officials hope that students will bear the greater economic burden with the help of the newly proposed tax-free education accounts.

Whether these proposals will pass is purely speculation. Realistically, monstrous deficits will pressure the new administration to slash student financial assistance. Such pressures will exist no matter who sits in the White House.