No Loans for Community College Students

Some colleges in North Carolina may no longer be offering federal student loans to their attendees. That’s because the graduates probably won’t be able to service the loans.

According to an article by Mike Wilder in the (Burlington, North Carolina) Times-News:

Local legislation approved by the N.C. General Assembly that exempts Alamance Community College and some other two-year colleges from the requirement. Local bills, which affect certain areas of the state, can’t be vetoed by the governor, so the bill becomes law after being passed by the House and Senate.

Martin Nadelman, the college’s president, has for months been saying both the college and its students could be hurt if the loans are offered. Many students who come to the college gain enough skills to get jobs, he said, but won’t necessarily have the earning potential to pay back thousands of dollars. Because of that, he argued, students are better off accepting federal Pell grants that don’t have to be repaid, along with local aid through the Alamance Community College Foundation.

That sort of thinking is depressing on several levels (wait, what kind of jobs are graduates getting if they don’t enable them to pay back federal loans, which are offered at reasonably generous terms?) but at least the college is being honest. It’s apparently open about the fact that the education it offers doesn’t help students much in terms of earning power.

Then again, it’s also in the college’s interest to prevent students from taking on too much debt. New federal regulations to limit the amount of debt students at for-profit schools take on all end of applying to students in certificate programs at community colleges. This means Alamance Community College could lose eligibility for federal funds if its students have too much debt.

According to the article, “the debate over requiring community colleges to offer the loans has divided the local legislative delegation.” This is a debate members of the legislature are having? How about debating offering more funding for these schools? That’s really the role of the state legislature here. Why should anyone need to take out loans for community colleges?

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer