Despite the pleasantly warm summer weather, Temple’s Student Body President Darin Bartholomew will still be hard at work.
From June 22 to June 24, Bartholomew will be attending the National Campus Leadership Council Summit in Washington, D.C. The event consists of guest speakers working in the federal government and numerous workshops to network, share ideas and discuss possible solutions for the future.
“There’s a little of everything there,” Bartholomew said. “I don’t just plan to fill an empty seat. I will be actively involved.”
The agenda includes breakout sessions, visits to the White House and U.S Chamber of Commerce, and a speech from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on the final day of the summit.
Student loan debt and interest rates are among Bartholomew’s top issues to explore while there.
These topics have come to a head recently due to impasse in the federal government to approve legislation which would maintain the current interest rates on new federally subsidized student loans. If left untouched by legislation, interest rates on federally subsidized student loans will rise from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1.
More than seven million students rely on these loans, according to the White House Office of Communications.
Bartholomew cautioned against claiming congress does not care for students, but rather that a unified plan has remained elusive among policy makers on the Hill.
“There are a lot of different ideas with no clear majority,” he said.
The longevity and consistency of legislation on the issue is another aspect to be considered. If a constant or near-constant rate cannot be expected by prospective students, the fear is the hope of higher education will be dropped by many of them unable to finance it on their own.
“The can has been kicked down the road in the past,” Bartholomew said. “A long term solution is much more desirable.”
On top of that, the quickly mounting price of tuition is also to be considered. College tuition and fees have quickly soared by a 1,120 percent increase since 1978, according to Bloomberg News. Pell Grants, which are given by the federal government on a need-basis to college students, face declining value as tuition rates rise faster than the average amount awarded to students.
Temple had a base tuition freeze last year which reflected a flat-funding in state appropriations to the university from the year before.
“Temple has a very, very good record of caring about this,” Bartholomew said. “But you can’t expect a tuition freeze two years in a row.”
The other issue Bartholomew is looking to discuss at the summit is employment prospects for college graduates.
He said he would be interested in hearing about some proposed solutions which have been discussed on the state level to address these issues.
One of those state-level policies, Bartholomew said, is a proposed bill in the Louisiana legislature, which if enacted, would link state funding of higher learning institutions to their graduation rates.
Another proposal is to require colleges to report a standardized set of statistics which would reflect the chances of a job after graduation from their school.
“No one should fear I will be endorsing a policy on behalf of Temple students while there,” Bartholomew said. “But they’re worth looking at.”
Marcus McCarthy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.