HAMPTON, Va. (October 11, 2019) – Hampton University welcomed Congressman Bobby Scott, along with representatives from Old Dominion University, Christopher Newport University, Norfolk State University, Thomas Nelson Community College, Paul D. Camp Community College, and Virginia State University, to sit down for a roundtable discussion about the cost of college.
Hampton University’s President, Dr. William R. Harvey officially welcomed the guests for the discussion.
“To Congressman Scott, the student panel and guests, I do welcome you officially to Hampton University. The topic that you have today is so important to all of us. The student debt right now is about $1.6 trillion, and it keeps escalating. We have to try to find some ways to try to deescalate it. I’m so happy that we have come together today to talk specifically about ways which we might be able to reduce that debt,” said Dr. Harvey.
Congressman Scott addressed concerns about paying for college and offered possible solutions. One solution is introducing a comprehensive higher education bill this month that will lower the cost of college, lift the burden of student loan debt and help all students complete their degree or credential on time.
“A lot of students don’t have a clue how much debt they’ve taken out and find out the end of their senior year that they have all this debt. We need to make sure that people are making rational decisions, but we also have to make sure that everyone can afford to go to college. That’s the promise that President Johnson made when he signed the Higher Education Act of 1965, he said that all students would be able to go to any college or university in any state and ‘not be turned away because the family is poor.’ We need to get back to that because when he signed that bill, the Pell Grant covered 75% of the cost of going to college. Now, it’s only covering less than 30% and people have to incur huge debt in order to go to college,” said Congressman Scott.
Panel members voiced their concerns about the lack of student and parent financial literacy. “I do feel we need more education on how loans really affect the students in the long run. We try to educate students with workshops but there is low attendance, so the challenge is how do we get the word out, how do we get them to understand that just because the money is there, that they have to take it. One of the things we see is students that take out loans who really don’t need it,” said Vera Riddick, Director of Student Financial Aid for Old Dominion University.
“I feel like students do want to be financially literate or have this sense that it’s important to understand finances. I think the lack of financial literacy has a lot to do with the lack of resources starting at middle school through high school. I think it depends on where your schooling is, who your parents are, and where you’re living, because that will define what kind of resources you’re given at a young age. I think that education about finances for college should start at that young age and continue through college,” said Aman Tume, Hampton University senior.
The reauthorized bill that Congressman Scott plans to introduce to Congress this month would simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and payment plans for student debt. It will also propose a significant rise in Pell Grants. Congressman Scott is optimistic that the bill will pass in the House. If it does pass in the House, it would then go to the Senate.