We've just put out a new tool to help get a sense of just how much President Obama is doing to help students pay for college. He's done a lot, and this calculator is a great way to illustrate that--but to illustrate the calculator, I wanted to tell you a true story from my actual life.
Like pretty much everyone else I know, I had to borrow most of the money to pay for school. And, again, just like everyone else I know, this has left me with a lot of debt.
At some point around the time I graduated I wrote myself a reminder-well, more of a warning, really--and stuck it on my computer. It said this:
"If you can't pay your loans, call this number"
Super cryptic, right?
Now, I don't even remember where I got this number or when I wrote it down. And, at the time, I didn't even know what is for. But I'm glad I held on to it.
So, fast forward to the end of my loan grace period. Now it's November 2011, I'm still in New Hampshire, and am a Field Organizer the bill for my first loan payment arrives. And it's staggering. More than $500 per month.
Until I remembered the sticky note, I had no idea how I was going to pay this on top of all my other living expenses. But then I remembered and I called the number.
What happened next felt like a miracle. I spent a few minutes on hold and then talked to someone who asked me some questions about my loans and my income. Then she said she was going to recalculate my payment. I was expecting her to need to give me a call back, but before I even got the chance to ask her what thee next step was, she gave me the new amount I would need to pay each month: just $98.
Then she explained that I had just benefitted from President Obama's student loan repayment program, designed to make sure the amount a person has to pay back is never out of sync with their actual income. So you know when the President says he got the banks out of the student loan business? This is what he means.
Take a look at the calculator and you can see what I mean. You'll also see that this isn't the only thing he's done to keep college affordable. He's expanded funding for Pell Grants, worked to keep Congress from doubling student loan interest rates, and put a key provision in the Affordable Care Act that allows us to stay on our parents health insurance until we're 26.
This is the last thing I'll say. Mitt Romney doesn't support any of this stuff. His only advice when it comes to college affordability is "Shop around." He wants the banks back in the student loan business, he wants to cut funding for Pell grants, and he wants to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act. These are literally the things he's running on, and it would have an impact on all of us who are just getting in college now, or just graduating and starting your career.
I'm sure it's not hard for you to imagine how this would impact your life, but take a look at the calculator right now just to see.