WASHINGTON, DC — The Obama Administration announced Tuesday it is taking steps to increase college affordability by making it easier to manage student loan debt.
“The announcement is part of a series of executive actions to put Americans back to work and strengthen the economy because we can’t wait for Congressional Republicans to act,” a White House statement said.
The announcement came a day after President Barack Obama, faced with stubborn Republican opposition to his $447 billion jobs bill and saying Americans can’t wait, went on the offensive with an executive order creating new rules that make it easier for some homeowners to refinance their mortgages.
Also on Tuesday, the president took another executive step that urges community health centers to hire 8,000 veterans.
GOP leaders are dismissing such moves, blaming the nation’s economic woes and a 9.1 percent jobless rate on what they call failed administration policies.
The White House said that the order dealing with mortgages amends the two-year-old Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) and will benefit homeowners with little or no equity in their houses to refinance by cutting the cost of doing so and removing caps to give deeply underwater borrowers access to the program. The new rules apply only to homeowners with federally guaranteed mortgages who are current on their payments.
Obama made the announcement Monday in a speech in Las Vegas, the city hit the hardest by the collapse of the housing market.
Announcing his move on mortgages, Obama said, “We can’t wait,” which has apparently become the current slogan for the administration.
The White House said he planned to use his executive powers again this week regarding student loan payments.
The administration announced it is moving forward with a new “Pay As You Earn” student loan proposal that will reduce monthly payments for more than one million current college students and borrowers.
Starting in 2014, borrowers will be able to reduce their monthly student loan payments to 10 percent of their discretionary income. But, with many students needing relief sooner, the new proposal will allow about 1.6 million students the ability to cap their loan payments at 10 percent starting next year, and the plan will forgive the balance of their debt after 20 years of payments.
Additionally, starting this January an estimated six million students and recent college graduates will be able to consolidate their loans and reduce their interest rates, the announcement said.
Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama