UNA students discuss President’s aims to soothe student aid woes

by Staff Writer Anna Brown

President Barack Obama revealed the Student Aid Bill of Rights promoting better ways for students and borrowers to pay off and manage their debt.

Obama announced the bill March 10 during a speech at Georgia Tech University, according to reports from USA Today.

“It’s some directives that may or may not take place,” said Interim Director of Student Financial Services Laura Bozovic. “It’s suggestions of best practices and also ways to address feedback from students and borrowers on things they can do to improve the repayment system.”

Bozovic said the changes outlined in the bill may or may not happen, as it is only suggestive.

The bill urges the U.S. Department of Education to find more efficient ways for students and borrowers to pay their loans.

The bill outlines new rules for loan collectors, requiring them to provide and better inform borrowers about the state of their loan and more loan options.

“We’re going to make sure that loan servicers can find better ways to help borrowers keep up with monthly payments that they can afford,” Obama told USA Today.

Student Tiffany McDaniel said she thinks the initiatives will help college students.

“It’s difficult to get a loan, then some of the interest rates are outrageous,” McDaniel said. “It’ll be good for students to be better informed about how much they owe and when to start paying.”

She said students always need better debt management options.

When a student graduates college, his or her loan is sent to a loan servicer, sending the loan into repayment. There are many loan servicing companies and, unfortunately, borrowers cannot choose their loan servicers, Bozovic said.

“These initiatives that he’s put forward are ways to centralize communications so that it’s not just one way,” Bozovic said. “It’s not just all loan servicers are communicating with borrowers, but borrowers have a way to centralize feedback.”

Junior Meridith Ginn said her experience of communicating with loan companies is complicated.

“They usually just direct you to the question and answer page online,” Ginn said. “I think with more organization it will make the loan process easier and more efficient. Also, students will fully understand what they are getting into when getting a loan.”

The bill outlines a centralized complaint system that enables the borrower to file complaints about their loan servicer or school to one database so that lenders can see what they are doing well and what they need to improve.

“To me, that’s the most important initiative that will have the most positive impact as far as protecting the student and borrower,” Bozovic said.

Bozovic said borrowers need to clearly understand the consequences of borrowing money. They should also stay current on their loan history.

“It is better to set yourself up on a manageable repayment plan or what you’re thinking what your plan would be,” Bozovic said. “Beyond repayment plans, there are options to keep loans in deferment. It’s better to be proactive in your repayment plans options so that you pick the one that’s right for you and so that you don’t go into default.”