Is PLUS Loan Reform Bad for HBCU Enrollment?
Laura Diamond of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution today reports that Morehouse College will furlough faculty and staff in the face of enrollment decline at the school. Officials say that new qualifications for the Parent PLUS Loan are leaving students at a loss in securing funds for school.
Colleges across the country have reported an increase in loan denials after the U.S. Department of Education tightened standards for the Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students. Prospective borrowers can’t have any defaults, foreclosures, bankruptcies, tax liens or wage garnishments within the past five years.
The story cites similar enrollment drops at Clark Atlanta and Spelman, and it brings into question how the new rules for the PLUS loan can have adverse affects on the HBCU mission.
HBCUs provide academic access to a student population largely from lower-income households. Denials based on liens, defaulted loans or foreclosures would be common for any family in an economy that folded in on itself due to a broken housing market, but are a particular bugaboo for black families who, statistically, earn less and obtain loans that aren’t favorable for comfortable repayment.
As if the economy wasn’t already rough on students just trying to enroll in college, now a huge federal loan program has the makings of mass segregation against students most likely to enroll in HBCUs. For their part, it’s a great call for the HBCUs to ask for and receive more private giving for scholarship support, but is there ever really enough for all of the students who need it?