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Interest Rates and Immigration

LEGISLATIVE LEGACY: President Johnson shook hands with audience members at his signing of the 1965 Higher Education Act. Today's Stafford loans are made possible by the Act.

LEGISLATIVE LEGACY: President Johnson shook hands with audience members at his signing of the 1965 Higher Education Act. Today’s Stafford loans are made possible by the Act.

Two critical pieces of legislation were recently enacted that impact many of our scholarship recipients. President Obama and the 2012 Congress affirmed the foresight of the Higher Education Act of 1965; they prevented Stafford subsidized loan rates from ballooning to 6.8% and locked in the current 3.4% interest rates for another two years continuing the legislation’s legacy.

Education is the path to achievement and fulfillment,” President Lyndon Johnson told his signing audience in the gym of his alma mater, Southwest Texas State College, almost 50 years ago. “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.” By keeping subsidized Stafford loans just below the current rate on home mortgages, Washington has reaffirmed that the pursuit of knowledge remains an investment worth making. 10,000 Degrees’ Financial Education Coordinator, Jin Choi, notes that “with today’s increasing tuition rates, and decreasing financial aid, doubling the interest rate on the Stafford subsidized loans would just put another strain on college students.” Choi adds, “I am elated. Lawmakers did something right. Some students might not see the benefit of this right now but they will six months after they graduate and have to start paying back these loans.”

President Johnson, of course, saw much more than a future of interest rate battles. “The rest is up to the teachers and the citizens and the educational leaders of tomorrow… [T]he leadership of your country believes it is the obligation of your Nation to provide and permit and assist every child born in these borders to receive all the education that he can take.” And for students born outside our borders? These past weeks have represented what may be an historic transformation in their lives. President Obama began a 2-month process which is expected to complete in the coming weeks by which some 1.4 million children of undocumented immigrants, including many of our scholarship recipients, will no longer wake each morning with the fear of deportation. His executive order directed the Department of Homeland Security to allow undocumented immigrants meeting the following criteria to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorization: clean criminal record, came to the United States before age 16, are 30 or younger, have lived here for at least five years, and are in school, are high school graduates or are military veterans in good standing. President Obama’s explanation for this action was similar to the one many of us know as the reason we come to work each day: “These young people are going to make extraordinary contributions.

– Seth Goddard