Obama Expands Program to Help with Student Loan Debt Relief

By Mallory Lane

Published 06/09 2014 05:25PM

Updated 06/09 2014 05:48PM

PENN STATE, UNIVERSITY PARK - The White House wants to ease the burden for those seeking a college degree.

President Obama signed a new presidential memorandum directing the Secretary of Education to propose regulations that would allow millions of student loan borrowers the opportunity to cap their student loan payments at 10 percent of their income.

The president said it's tough for young men and women to afford college.

"At a time when higher education has never been more important, it's also never been more expensive," Obama said. "Over the last three decades, the average tuition at a public university has more than tripled."

According to the White House, most college graduates leave school with a debt of nearly $30,000.

At Penn State, that number is higher.

Last year, the average loan debt for Penn State students graduating with a baccalaureate degree was $35,000. Two-thirds of students graduated with a little over $26,000 of debt.

Last year, 62,000 students across Penn State received some sort of financial aid, that's about 80 percent of the university's undergraduate enrollment. 62 percent of all of Penn State undergrads received an education loan.

According to the Institution for College Access and Success, in 2012, graduates from Pennsylvania schools had the third highest average student loan debt in the nation - $31,675.

Penn State rising senior Katherine Dunlop said not only is the cost of getting an education expensive, so are the living costs to do so. She said some of her friends already have more than $40,000 in student loan debt going into their senior year of college.

She's hopeful this memorandum could be a step in the right direction.

"I think it has its good and its bad sides to it. It depends on a very personal basis, person by person, what you're coming out of school with, what your job is going to be and how much debt you already have," Dunlop said.

According to the White House, this memorandum could help an additional 5 million borrowers lower their monthly payment.

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