Tag Archive | "national policy"

The College Conundrum: How US student loan repayment policy created $1 trillion in outstanding debt

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Credit to: https://farm1.staticflickr.com/44/148486190_9e1daed403_o.jpg

On average, a US student will spend approximately $21,000 per year pursuing a college degree, approximately 22% of which will be paid through borrowed funds. Considering the increasing costs of college tuition coupled with the need for students to borrow almost ¼ of their tuition, it no surprise that the outstanding federal student loan debt has crossed the $1 trillion mark. With continuously increasing tuition threatening to put higher education just out of reach for many Americans, it’s intriguing to consider that many countries around the world take a surprisingly different approach to higher education tuition and funding.

Recently, Germany reverted back to a free tuition model for public universities, after an eight year period in which the universities were allowed to charge up to €1,000 per year (approx. equivalent to $1,300). Denmark takes a similar approach but goes a step further by providing higher education completely free, not only to its own citizens but also to those of any country in the European Union, while also providing monthly stipends for cost-of-living expenses. While not tuition free, Australia nonetheless has a similar student-centric policy that bases tuition on major, with higher rates for those areas in which the student can expect a higher future income. As an incentive to lessen the amount of debt taken on by students in financing their education, students who pay as much of their tuition upfront as possible receive a 10% discount on their tuition rate.

When compared with countries like Australia and New Zealand, the United States’ debt forgiveness and repayment policy seems rather harsh. As previously mentioned, Australian students who are able to pay some of their tuition upfront receive a discounted rate. Anything that is not paid up front is paid back based on income but only once the student has graduated, become employed, and their income has reached a certain minimum level. In the event that their income drops below the minimum level, they are not required to make further payments until their income again meets the minimum standard.

While the US does offer a somewhat comparable systems in theory, in practice the differences are significant. For example, American students do have the option of applying for an income-based repayment plan, but rather than automatically being enrolled in the plan or allowing anyone to opt-in, only students demonstrating partial financial hardship can take advantage of this option. Similarly, American students have the option to apply for deferment or forbearance if they are unable to continue making payments on their loans, however, these options are limited in time, up to three years for deferment and twelve months for forbearance. Most significantly, interest continues to accumulate during the deferment/forbearance period whereas no interest accumulates during the Australian no-payment period.

So is a US college degree worth the increasing price tag? The answer depends on your perspective.

In the US, college graduates in general have a much lower unemployment rate than those without a college degree. As you might expect, when comparing unemployment rates of all college graduates with recent college graduates, the unemployment rate for recent college graduates is higher but maintains fairly steady (peaking at 5% for all graduates in 2010 compared with 7% for recent college graduates in the same year). Somewhat troubling however, is the fact approximately 44% of graduates are underemployed, meaning those graduates who report having a job are employed in a job that does not require their degree. Thus the question of whether or not to pursue a college education depends on balancing the likelihood of landing a “dream job” (or even finding a job after graduation), with the encumbrance of a large amount of unforgivable debt. Given the staggering and still increasing amount of federal student loan debt, this, apparently, is a gamble that many hopeful young Americans, myself included, are willing to take.

 

Demi Arenas is a 2L and Staff Editor on the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.

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Critical Analysis: A critique of Spain’s Public Security Law

Currently before Spain’s Senate is the Ley Orgánica de protección de la seguridad ciudadana (“Public Security Law”). This bill has already passed through the lower house of Parliament, Congreso de los Diputados, and is expected to soon pass through the Popular Party controlled Senate. The Public Security Law has come under great scrutiny with opponents referring to it as the “gag law” because a significant portion of the law restricts public protest. However, this article is going to focus on the equally, if not more so, problematic portion that would legalize the summary return of migrants crossing into Spanish territory. This article will briefly summarize the contextual and legal issues related to the concept of “rejection at the border.”

To understand why Spain would introduce a bill like this, it is important to know a little background on the

Prison in Melilla Guardia Civil. Credit to: http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/media/images/photographs/2014_Spain_MelillaGuardiaCivil.jpg

Melilla Guardia Civil enclave city. Credit to: http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/media/images/photographs/2014_Spain_MelillaGuardiaCivil.jpg

issue. Between 2012 and 2013, Spain saw a 49 percent increase in the number of persons entering the enclave cities of Ceuta and Melilla. Additionally, applications for asylum in Spain increased to 4,502 in 2013, compared to 2,544 in 2012. The numbers of persons housed at the Melilla center gives credence to the mass numbers of persons that Spain is now trying to manage. As of June 12, 2014, the center housed 2,161 persons, which is four times its capacity of 480 persons. Primary increases in migrants are coming from Mali, Central African Republic, and Syria.

Over the last year, there were roughly sixty-five pre-dawn attempts by hundreds of migrants to storm the barbed wire fences separating Ceuta and Melilla from Morocco. Amnesty International reported that Spain is using unlawful deportations and reported accusations of excessive use of force by border guards in this region. Many who reach the fence surrounding Melilla must wait on the fence until the Guardia Civil force them down and return them to Morocco. For example, on February 2, 2015, the Guardia Civil summarily returned about 100 migrants to Morocco. Additionally last month, Moroccan forces completed a massive raid of the makeshift mountain camps outside Melilla in an effort to stop the attempts to cross the Spanish border. This capture and release effort resulted in migrants being released in the southern regions of Morocco.

The implementation of the Public Security Law would allow Spain to formalize the summary return of migrants, a violation of international law. While it should be recognized that the law does create additional protective procedures to try to prevent violations to international laws, it is questionable whether these procedures would have any effect on ground behavior. Spain is already a signatory of Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the Convention Against Torture. Both of which enshrine the international principle non-refoulement, prohibiting the return of migrants when they would be subject to persecution or torture in their nations of origin. Without procedures in place to process migrants that cross the border, Spain is seriously risking violating these Conventions.

Numerous international organizations have spoken out against this law and have attempted to encourage Spain to look to other options. Nevertheless, with the Popular Party controlling the Senate, it is probable that the bill will pass; at least some version of it. This seems particularly true given Spain’s interior minister, Jorge Fernández Díaz’s, eagerness to have the summary expulsion law. Mr. Díaz does not want to consider migrants to have entered Spanish territory until they have crossed the “police line.” It is unclear what action, if any, the international community would take, but with legal concrete action by Spain, some evaluation may be necessary.

Alison Haugen is a 2L at Denver University Sturm College of Law and a Staff Editor on the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.

Prison in Melilla Guardia Civil. Credit to: http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/media/images/photographs/2014_Spain_MelillaGuardiaCivil.jpg

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