Colleges Column

February 08, 1989 2 min read

While college students are increasing their reliance on government-subsidized loans, the principal federal loan program may be in need of an overhaul, according to a new book put out by the College Board.

Radical Reform or Incremental Change? Student Loan Policy Alternatives for the Federal Government includes four different recommendations for restructuring the Stafford Student Loan program.

That program has become the largest single source of aid to students, notes Lawrence E. Gladieux, executive director of the board’s Washington office. Yet it is “beset by problems with which it was not designed to cope,” he writes.

Among the problems cited are the rising volume of both loans and defaults, the increased dependence of low-income students on loans instead of grants, and the growing cost of the program.

The book is based on presentations made by participants in a College Board forum last March. Two authors--the Rev. William J. Byron, president of the Catholic University of America, and Robert D. Reischauer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution--recommend scrapping the existing student-loan program and starting from scratch.

But Joseph M. Cronin, president of the Massachusetts Higher Education Assistance Corporation, and Arthur M. Hauptman, an education-policy consultant, propose modifications in the current system.

At a news conference last month, board officials said they do not endorse any single approach to reforming the loan program, but hope to encourage debate.

Copies of the book are available for $10.95 each from College Board Publications, Box 886, New York, N.Y. 10101-0886.

College enrollment reached a record high in the fall of 1988, according to a new federal report.

The National Center for Education Statistics estimated that 12.8 million students were enrolled in colleges and universities--a 2.4 percent increase over 1987.

The increase followed two years of stable enrollment, the report said, suggesting that the increase was due to growth in the number of students age 25 and older.

The enrollment increases have occurred primarily at two- and four-year public institutions, the report said.

Meanwhile, a survey by the American Council on Education of college enrollment in 14 states showed gains in all but two states. Only Virginia and Washington reported declines.

The report said that few states have compiled estimates of minority enrollments. But early reports from California, Michigan, and Florida suggest that the number of minority students at public institutions is increasing.


A version of this article appeared in the February 08, 1989 edition of Education Week as Colleges Column