Student Loan Reform Sellout?

Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons

This past week, fellow MoJo blogger Andy Kroll and I wrote about student loan reform and how the new law’s provisions correlate to Obama’s support, or lack thereof, for community colleges. I argued that Obama’s decision to sign the bill at a Virginia community college signaled a symbolic reaffirmation of his support for these overenrolled, underfunded, two-year colleges. Before this week, the president had scarcely mentioned community colleges since challenging them last summer to graduate five million more students by 2020. But Andy made the excellent point that the bill Obama signed is missing the $12 billion the prez proposed to help community colleges meet his challenge.

The version passed by the House last fall included $10 billion for the American Graduation Initiative, the program that was to fund Obama’s graduation mandate. But when the bill got tied to health care reform to help health care meet the cost-savings requirements of reconciliation, that $10 billion got knocked down to a meager $2 billion. Giving more money to community colleges would have thrown off the overall savings needed to help health care stay afloat.

I agree with Andy that not offering any federal funding to community colleges would be tantamount to Obama selling out on the working class, but I’m hopeful that the funding will come through soon in another form. I don’t think the president has forgotten how much community colleges are hurting. Plus, had student loan reform not been tied to health care, it likely would have remained in legislative limbo. House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) had been working on student loan reform for years. And reform minus promised additional funding for community colleges still seems like a better deal than no student loan reform and no money for community colleges.  


In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones, a special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.