President Gibralter’s Opinions on Student Debt Published in the Baltimore Sun

Frostburg State University president Dr. Jonathan Gibralter had an opinion editorial, or op-ed, published in the Baltimore Sun on Friday, October 24, 2014. In this article, entitled “Reducing student debt requires national commitment”, Gibraltar commented on the need for institutions, state policy makers, federal policy makers, and students and their families to make a commitment to find solutions to college affordability and student loan debt. The struggle of compensating for the cost of a college education is an idea that many students more than familiar with. However, President Gibralter was able to put these struggles into concrete terms, reporting in his article that 70% percent of students are taking out loans for college education.

Gibralter then went on to address how to deal with this problem. He seemed to point to the government, particularly individuals who are members of the General Assembly in Annapolis, Maryland and individuals who are members of Congress in Washington, D.C., as those responsible for finding solutions. Gibralter views the solutions, however, as ones that are “pretty straightforward but terribly sexy.” One solution is to increase the budget for scholarships and grants at both the state and national level. This will not happen without a strong willingness from students and their families to influence the legislatures. This means students and their families should consider contacting legislatures to express need for financial aid reform. An individual can try to meet his or her representative in person, call his or her representative on the telephone, or send his or her representative a letter. However, an easier way for students and their families to influence legislatures is by voting. If more young people were engaged and participated in the democratic process, the democratic output of public policy would better reflect the interests of a younger demographic. This means if students do the research and determine which candidates are sympathetic to youth specific issues, such as college education costs and student loan availability and affordability, and proceed to actually go to the polls and vote, they can expect more legislation to be passed on these youth specific issues.

In the article, Gibralter talks about how Frostburg State University works to keep college costs low for students. He cites the Associate Degree Scholars Award for transfer students and the Allegany County Opportunity Scholarship for local residents as two mechanisms which help relieve financial burden on students. However, when asked his opinion on student loans, FSU sophomore Richard Ukonu called loans “the new chains of slavery.” Elizabeth Morfafa, also a sophomore at FSU, said, “College is a cycle. You go to school to get a nice paying job, but then all the money you make at your job goes towards paying off student debts.” Ukonu suggested living off campus as a way to owe less money to the university and therefore lower student loans. Ukonu also stated, “You go to school where you can afford. It’s not necessarily where you want to go, but it makes more sense.”

Read Gibralter’s article here:

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