The White House announced on Tuesday two new measures the Department of Education will start offering in January to help college graduates climb out of their student loan debt hole.
One of the proposals would push up the start date for more favorable terms on a special loan repayment program based on income, said White House domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes. Another measure would encourage graduates with two or more different kinds of federal loans to consolidate them and get a small break on interest rates.
Obama is expected to trumpet them when he appears Wednesday at the University of Colorado’s Denver campus.
“We’re using executive authority. . .stepping into a gap, at no cost to the taxpayer, creating a program that creates additional relief to the students,” Barnes said.
The president is under pressure to address the financial concerns faced by students and recent graduates. Student loan debt, which is now outpacing credit card debt, is one of the problems called out at Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in New York.
Average student loan debt for the graduating class of 2009 at four-year nonprofit colleges was $24,000, including all private and federal loans, according to the Institute for College Access & Success.
In 2010, the unemployment rate for college graduates age 24 and younger rose to 9.4%, the highest since the Labor Department began keeping records in 1985.
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