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學貸拖垮美國:歐巴馬推新計畫 依評比結果分配補助款

立報/本報訊 2013.08.28 00:00
策劃、編譯■劉耘、實習編譯王予彤

美國高等教育學費高漲、學生背負鉅額學貸,

歐巴馬提出壓低學費計畫,擬制定新的大學評量標準,

要讓學生更能負擔學費、依校方教學品質選校,

也期待以新評量標準來分配聯邦補助款的方式促成各大學競相降低學費。

為解決美國大學學費高漲的問題,美國總統歐巴馬22日提出一項計畫,要用新的評量制度評定社區學院和大學的財務表現,並以此評量結果來分配聯邦補助款。

這個夏天,民主黨的歐巴馬竭力推廣許多振興經濟的新計畫,而在一趟從紐約到賓州的巴士宣傳之旅的一開始,他就提出這項壓低大學學費的計畫。

這項計畫呼籲教育部在2015學年之前制定一套評量制度,使學生和家長在選擇學校時,能讓他們的花費發揮極大值。

接著,歐巴馬將推動國會在2018年前立法,把聯邦學生補助款結合此評量結果,鼓勵學校檢視其經費支出。

此計畫也將透過限制學貸償還額來舒緩聯邦學生的學貸負擔,規定償還金額最高不得超過借貸者月收入的10%。

這項計畫大部份內容須得到國會同意,但要讓國會同意相當困難。現在許多大學都受現金短缺的問題所困,但此計畫卻期待校方要在評量制度的壓力下減支,且比起私人機構的評比,外力將更難以影響這個評量制度。

▲學貸本是為幫助學生而設立,但高額學費卻成為學生沉重的負擔,圖為DonkeyHotey創作作品,上傳於 2011年11月1日。(來源/Flickr創用CC)

「學生面臨不該面臨的抉擇」

「在這個高等教育前所未有的重要,卻也史無前例昂貴的時代,太多學生面臨一個他們根本不該面臨的抉擇。」歐巴馬在水牛城時這麼說道。

「他們要不是得放棄大學教育並承受沒有學位的代價,就是得付出相當大的代價去上學,卻冒著不確定能否償清貸款的風險,因為學貸金額實在太高了。」歐巴馬說。

根據美國大學理事會8月公布的調查,2013年每個學生花費在4年制公立大學學費和各項費用的平均年度支出是8,655美元(約新台幣26萬元),比2012年的花費要高出4.8%,而私立社區學院和私立大學的費用更是昂貴許多。

聯邦政府每年提供學生高過1,500億美元(約新台幣4兆5千億元)的補助款,這項補助款一般來說是根據註冊人數分配,而非根據學校的教育品質。

新制度恐讓聯邦控制學費

身為共和黨成員的美國眾議院教育與就業委員會克萊因,則對歐巴馬的計畫表示反對意見。

「我擔心,若強加一個武斷的大學評量制度,很可能遏制我們意圖鼓勵的創新,甚至導致聯邦控制大學學費。」他在聲明中表示。

被視為保守機構的美國企業研究院高等教育中心主任凱利表示,歐巴馬的這些計畫很可能激勵教育機構有所改變;但他也說,高等教育的遊說者和部分議員很可能反駁,認為此制度將導致各學院之間極為不平等的現象。

教育部長鄧肯則告訴記者,對於那些選擇較昂貴教育機構的學生,此制度仍會提供其他的援助管道。

在這趟往返水牛城和雪城的巴士之旅中,歐巴馬也拜訪數個先前未在公開行程內的機構,包括一間女權中心。

他講述了自己的教育經歷,說他與他的妻子蜜雪兒當年為了償還學貸花了多少年。

據美國消費者金融保護局估計,美國民眾積欠的學貸總額約為1.2兆美元(約新台幣36兆元)。歐巴馬說,這些債務嚴重拖累了美國經濟。

根據國家教育統計中心的數據,與2001年的費用相比,2011年4年制公立大學大學部學生包含學費和食宿費在內的總花費激增了73%,漲至每年平均1萬5,900美元(約新台幣47萬6千元)。

歐巴馬也在8月簽署一項立法,將徹底改變學生貸款不斷上漲的利率,未來利率將以10年中期國債的浮動利率為準。這項法案是在國會議員積極協調下才得以成形。

歐巴馬在過去5年間提出許多減少大學學費負擔的法案,包含增加對低收入學生的聯邦大學補助款、鼓勵校方讓學校支出更透明化,並以補助款獎勵那些在減少開銷方面成效良好的州和機構。(路透)

President Barack Obama on Thursday proposed a plan to tackle soaring U.S. education costs with a new system that judges colleges and universities on their financial value and ties those ratings to disbursement of federal aid.

The Democratic president, who has spent much of the summer promoting new ideas to rev up the economy, unveiled his proposals at the start of a campaign-like bus tour through New York and Pennsylvania.

The plan calls on the Education Department to institute a ratings system before the 2015 school year that would allow students and parents to select schools based on the best value for the money.

Obama would then push Congress to tie federal student aid to these ratings by 2018, creating an incentive 1 for schools to keep their costs in check.

The plan also aims to ease the pain of federal student loan 2 debt by limiting payments on the loans to 10 percent of borrowers' monthly income.

Major parts of the plan require congressional approval, which may prove difficult. Universities, many of which are already facing a cash crunch, are expected to push back against a ratings system that may be more difficult to influence than private-sector rankings.

"At a time when a higher education has never been more important or more expensive, too many students are facing a choice that they should never have to make," he said in Buffalo.

"Either they say no to college, and pay the price for not getting a degree ... or you do what it takes to go to college, but then you run the risk that you won't be able to pay it off because you've got so much debt," Obama said.

The average annual cost of in-state tuition and fees for 2013 at four-year public universities is $8,655, up 4.8 percent from 2012, according to a survey from the College Board 3 released this month. Private colleges and universities are vastly more expensive.

The federal government provides more than $150 billion in student financial aid each year, and typically that aid has been based on enrollment figures, not the value of the education.

John Kline, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce, expressed reservations about Obama's plan.

"I remain concerned that imposing an arbitrary college ranking system could curtail the very innovation we hope to encourage - and even lead to federal price controls," he said in a statement.

Andrew Kelly, director of the Center on Higher Education at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said the president's proposals could motivate institutions to make some changes. But he said higher education lobbyists and some lawmakers may argue such a system could create a great disparity among colleges.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told reporters that the system would still leave aid options open for students who chose pricier institutions.

During the long bus ride between Buffalo and Syracuse, the president made unannounced stops, including a visit to a women's rights center.

He told familiar stories, tied to education, about how long it took him and his wife, Michelle, to pay down their own student loans.

Americans owe about $1.2 trillion in student loan debt, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates. Obama said that debt was crippling 4 to the U.S. economy.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the total cost of higher education - including tuition, room and board - for undergraduates at four-year public institutions ballooned 5 73 percent to an average of $15,900 per year in 2011 compared with 2001.

Obama this month signed legislation that reversed a big increase in student loan interest rates and will tie future rates to fluctuations in the 10-year Treasury note. The bill was hammered out in intensive negotiations with lawmakers.

Over the last five years, the president has rolled out a number of college affordability initiatives, including increasing Pell Grant aid to low-income students, steps to encourage colleges to be more transparent about costs, and awarding grants to states and institutions that work to bring costs down.(Reuters)

關鍵字詞

loan(n.)貸款

incentive (n.)激勵

board(n.)伙食

crippling(a.)造成嚴重損害的

balloon(v.)激增

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