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Financing higher education in the US: OECD report and lender scandal

In an Economic Survey of the US 2007: Financing Higher Education, the OECD claims that significant barriers to accessing higher education exist. Despite considerable expenditure on the US government’s student loan programme, university fees have skyrocketed at and exponential rate, leaving many students in the dust. The OECD recommends the following measure:

  • student loan limits should be raised substantially, especially those of unsubsidised direct loans;
  • repayments of loans should vary with income;
  • tax concessions, which are complicated to file and seem to only benefit the middle and upper class, should be simplified and even abolished.

This policy brief comes in the midst of a burgeoning student lender scandal in the US that has resulted in a cascade resignation of many university student loan staff (see ACA Newsletter- Education Europe May). A recent report released by Senator Edward Kennedy drew even more universities and colleges into the loan scandal, demonstrating that university staff had accepted incentives to promote particular lenders. New York lawyer Andrew Cuomo, who has adopted this case with a firey ambition, recently won a riff with John Hopkins University, who has agreed to five years of monitoring of its student loan practices and a 1.1 million dollar investigation settlement. Johns Hopkins is one of many prestigious universities accused. 

The OECD's sharp criticism of financial access to higher education in the US as well as this looming loan scandal are particularly interesting in light of the recent weight the education ministers of the 45 Bologna Process signatory countries have put on access and equity in education. More will come on this vast issue from both sides of the Atlantic.

OECD report
Senator Kennedy’s report