Determination to Walk the Path of Knowledge

Determination to Walk the Path of Knowledge

Swinging Open the Door to Education

Richard Cordray, the outgoing head of Federal Student Aid, recently gave remarks at the 7th International Association of Student Affairs and Services Global Summit held in Daegu, Korea. He responded to a prompt that asked what ways FSA promotes inclusivity & diversity and encourages innovation & technology. His remarks spoke powerfully to the original intentions behind the Higher Education Act of 1965 and the advent of federal student lending. In President Lyndon B. Johnson’s words, he believed that the Act would “swing open a new door for the young people of America. For them, and for this entire land of ours, it is the most important door that will ever open—the door to education.” For Johnson, education was an essential good, holding the “firm conviction that for the individual, education is the path to achievement and fulfillment; for the Nation, it is a path to a society that is not only free but civilized; and for the world, it is the path to peace—for it is education that places reason over force.” 

Widening the Path for All

LBJ had high hopes for the Higher Education Act, believing that it would allow anyone “anywhere in this great land of ours can apply to any college or any university in any of the 50 states and not be turned away because their family is poor.” The Act followed on the heels of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and was part of a broader effort to introduce legislation to create greater opportunities for Americans of every race, creed, and class. Johnson was convinced that passing the Higher Education Act meant “the path of knowledge is open to all that have the determination to walk it.”

A Door Better Left Unopened?

The Higher Education Act of 1965 lowered a major hurdle for many Americans’ access to higher education, but it didn’t obliterate the obstacle posed by burgeoning tuition costs. Any parent with college-bound children today can vouch for the fact that college today probably costs tens of thousands of dollars more than when they were students. An article in 1987 by then-Secretary of Education William Bennett opined that these runaway tuition hikes were, in fact, caused by the federal lending system, which allowed colleges to blithely raise tuition without fear of impacting enrollment. This philosophy has since been termed the “Bennett Hypothesis,” and continues to have believers today, including former Secretary of Education Betsy Devos. 

How Far Have We Come Today?

Regardless of where you stand on the question of federal student lending, we can all probably agree that the system isn’t functioning as well as it should. A couple of examples include the recent lawsuit filed by the CFPB against PHEAA for attempting to continue collecting payments on discharged student loans, or the current lawsuits against the Biden Administration over the newest income-driven repayment (IDR) plan, SAVE.

In the midst of all the posturing, arguing, and litigation are millions of borrowers caught in the crossfire, anxiously wondering what will come next, and whether it’s going to hurt them. For many, they borrowed because they knew they could pay it back. Others knew they would have an opportunity to work toward forgiveness through PSLF. And others still borrowed because they didn’t see any other choice. We continue to believe in an America in which all can freely believe that “the path of knowledge is open to all that have the determination to walk it,” and we will continue to work with our clients and our partners to make sure it stays that way. 

If you have questions about your student loans, proposed legislation, lawsuits, or anything else that could affect your repayment, give us a call. We’re here to walk beside you.

If you have Federal Student Loans, schedule your free 15-minute Discovery Session to find out if your loans can be forgiven after 25 years.