Message From The President Of The United States On Higher Education Opportunities, Essay

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Excerpt:

To the Congress of the United States:

No qualified student who wants to go to college should be barred by lack of money. That has long been a great American goal; I propose that we achieve it now.

Something is basically unequal about opportunity for higher education when a young person whose family earns more than $15,000 a year is nine times more likely to attend college than a young person whose family earns less than $3,000.

Something is basically wrong with Federal policy toward higher education when it has failed to correct this inequity, and when government programs spending $5.3 billion yearly have largely been disjointed, ill-directed and without a coherent long-range plan.

Something is wrong with our higher education policy when-on the threshold of a decade in which enrollments will increase almost 50%- not nearly enough attention is focused on the two-year community colleges so important to the careers of so many young people.

Something is wrong with higher education itself when curricula are often irrelevant, structure is often outmoded, when there is an imbalance between teaching and research and too often an indifference to innovation.

To help right these wrongs, and to spur reform and innovation throughout higher education in America today, I am sending to the Congress my proposed Higher Education Opportunity Act of 1970.

In this legislation, I propose that we expand and revamp student aid so that it places more emphasis on helping low-income students than it does today.

To the Congress of the United States:

No qualified student who wants to go to college should be barred by lack of money. That has long been a great American goal; I propose that we achieve it now.

Something is basically unequal about opportunity for higher education when a young person whose family earns more than $15,000 a year is nine times more likely to attend college than a young person whose family earns less than $3,000.

Something is basically wrong with Federal policy toward higher education when it has failed to correct this inequity, and when government programs spending $5.3 billion yearly have largely been disjointed, ill-directed and without a coherent long-range plan.

Something is wrong with our higher education policy when-on the threshold of a decade in which enrollments will increase almost 50%- not nearly enough attention is focused on the two-year community colleges so important to the careers of so many young people.

Something is wrong with higher education itself when curricula are often irrelevant, structure is often outmoded, when there is an imbalance between teaching and research and too often an indifference to innovation.

To help right these wrongs, and to spur reform and innovation throughout higher education in America today, I am sending to the Congress my proposed Higher Education Opportunity Act of 1970.

In this legislation, I propose that we expand and revamp student aid so that it places more emphasis on helping low-income students than it does today.

I propose to create the National Student Loan Association to enable all students to obtain government-guaranteed loans, increasing the pool of resources available for this purpose by over one billion dollars in its first year of operation, with increasing aid in future years.

I propose to create a Career Education Program funded at $100 million in fiscal 1972 to assist States and institutions in meeting the additional costs of starting ‘new program to – teach critically needed skills in community colleges and technical institutes.

I propose to establish a National Foundation for Higher Education to make grants to support excellence, innovation and reform in private and public institutions. In its first year, this would be funded at $200 million.

There is much to be proud of in our system of higher education. Twenty-five years ago, two Americans in ten of college age went to college; today, nearly five out of ten go on to college; by 1976, we expect seven out of ten to further their education beyond secondary school.

This system teaching seven million students now employs more than half a million instructors and professors and spends approximately $23 billion a year. In its most visible form, the end result of this system contributes strongly to the highest standard of living on earth, indeed the highest in history. One of the discoveries of economists in recent years is the extraordinary, in truth the dominant, role which investment in human beings plays in economic growth. But the more profound influence of education has been in the shaping of the American democracy and the quality of life of the American people.

The impressive record compiled by a dedicated educational community stands in contrast to some grave shortcomings in our postsecondary educational system in general and to the Federal share of it in particular.

– Federal student loan programs have helped millions to finance higher education; ‘yet the available resources have never been focused on the neediest students.

– The rapidly rising cost of higher education has created serious financial problems for colleges and especially threatens the stability of private institutions.

– Too many people have fallen prey to the myth that a four-year liberal arts diploma is essential to a full and rewarding life, whereas in fact other forms, of post-secondary education-such as a two-year community college or technical training course are far better suited to the interests of many young people.

– The turmoil on the nation’s campuses is a symbol of the urgent need for reform in curriculum, teaching, student participation, discipline and governance in our post-secondary institutions.’ –

– The workings of the credit markets, particularly in periods of tight money, have hampered the ability of students to borrow for their education, even when those loans are guaranteed by the Federal government.

– The Federal involvement in higher education has grown in a random and haphazard manner, failing to produce an agency that can support innovation and reform.

We are entering an era when concern for the quality of American life requires that we organize our programs and our policies in ways that enhance that quality and open opportunities for all.

No element of our national life is more worthy of our attention, our support and our concern than higher education. For no element has greater impact on the careers, the personal growth and the happiness of so many of our citizens. And no element is of greater importance in providing the knowledge and leadership on which the vitality of our democracy and the strength of our economy depends.

This Administration’s program for higher education springs from several deep convictions:

– Equal educational opportunity, which has long been a goal, must now become a reality for every young person in the United States, whatever his economic circumstances.

– Institutional autonomy and academic freedom should be strengthened by Federal support, never threatened with Federal domination.

– Individual student aid should be given in ways that fulfill each person’s capacity to choose the kind of quality education most suited to him, thereby making institutions more responsive to student needs.

– Support should complement rather than supplant additional and continuing help from all other sources.

– Diversity must be encouraged, both between institutions and within each institution. -Basic reforms in institutional organization, business management, governance, instruction, and academic programs are long overdue.

STUDENT FINANCIAL AID: GRANTS AND SUBSIDIZED LOANS

Aside from veterans’ programs and social security benefits, the Federal government provides 6i to students through four large programs: the Educational Opportunity Grants, College Work-Study Grants, National Defense Student Loans and Guaranteed Student Loans. In fiscal 1970 these programs provided an estimated $577 million in Federal funds to a total of 1.6 million individual students. For fiscal 1971, I have recommended a 10% increase in these programs, to $633 million, for today’s students must not be penalized while the process of reform goes on. But reform is needed.

Although designed to equalize educational opportunity, the programs of ‘the past fail to aid large numbers of low-income students.

With the passage of this legislation, every low-income student entering an accredited college would -be eligible for a combination of Federal grants and subsidized loans sufficient to give him the same ability to pay as a student from family earning 10,000. With the passage of this legislation, every qualified student would be able to augment his own resources with Federally-guaranteed loans, but Federal subsidies would be directed to students who need them most. Under this plan, every student from a family below the $10,000 income level-nearly 40% of all students presently enrolled-would be eligible for Federal aid. When augmented by earnings, help from parents, market-rate loans or other public or private scholarship aid, this aid would be enough to assure him the education that he seeks.

The Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare would annually determine the formula that would most fairly allocate available Federal resources to qualified low-income students. Because subsidized 1hP loans multiply the available resources, and because the lowest- 0bi income students would receive more than those from families with tell incomes near $10,000, the effect would be a near-doubling of actual assistance available to most students with family incomes below $7500.

If all eligible students from families with an annual income of $4,500 had received grants and subsidized loans under the existing lie student aid programs, they would have received an average of $215 each. Under our proposal, all eligible students from families of $4,500 annual income would be guaranteed a total of $1300 each in grants and subsidized loans. This would constitute the financing floor; it will be supplemented by earnings, other scholarships and access to unsubsidized loans.

STUDENT FINANCIAL AID: LOANS

The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 1970 would strongly improve the ability of both educational and financial institutions to make student loans. Although most students today are eligible for a Guaranteed Student Loans, many cannot obtain them. Because virtually all Guaranteed Loans are made by banks, a student is forced to assemble his financial aid package at two or more institutions-A bank and his college-and colleges are denied the ability to oversee the entire financial aid arrangements of their own students.

In order to provide the necessary liquidity in the student loan credit go market, I am asking the Congress to charter a National Student Loan Association. This institution would play substantially the same role mis in student loans that the Federal National Mortgage Association plays in home loans. The corporation would raise its initial capital through the sale of stock to foundations, colleges and financial institutions. It would issue its own securities-education bonds-which would be backed by a Federal guarantee. These securities would attract additional funds from sources that are not now participating in the student loan program.

The corporation would be able to buy and sell student loans made by qualified lenders-including colleges as well as financial institutions. This would serve to make more money available for the student loan program, and it would do so at no additional cost to the government. The Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, would set an annual ceiling on these transactions. In fiscal 1972, I estimate that the N.S.L.A. would buy up to $2 billion in student loan paper.

Expanding credit in this manner would make it possible to terminate the payments now made to banks to induce them to make student loans in this tight money market. We would let the interest rates on these loans go to a market rate but the presence of the Federal guarantee would assure that this rate would result in a one to two percent interest reduction for each student. By removing the minimum repayment period we would not only enable students to pay back loans as quickly as they wish but we would make it possible for students to refinance their loans its soon its interest rates are lower.

We would continue to relieve all students of interest payments while they are in college but would defer rather than totally forgive those payments. This would be more than compensated for by extending the maximum repayment period from 10 to 20 years, easing the burden of repaying a student loan until the borrower is well out of school and earning a good income.

The added funds made available from these changes, which should exceed one-half billion dollars by 1975, would be redirected to aid for lower income students.

By increasing the maximum annual individual loan from $1500 to $2500, we would enhance the student’s ability to avail himself of an education at any institution that will admit him.

Thus, the ability of all students to obtain loans would be increased, and the ability to borrow would be strongly increased for students from low-income families. The financial base of post-secondary education would be correspondingly strengthened. It is significant that this would be done at no cost to the Federal taxpayer.

Source Citation:

Nixon, Richard. 1970. Message From The President Of The United States On Higher Education Opportunities. 91st Cong., 2d sess. House Document 91-282. https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/special-message-the-congress-higher-education-0

Cite this page:

Nixon, Richard. 1970. "Message From The President Of The United States On Higher Education Opportunities, Essay." History of Higher Education. https://higheredhistory.gmu.edu/primary-sources/message-from-the-president-of-the-united-states-on-higher-education-opportunities-essay/