The clock is ticking as we approach the "fiscal cliff," and it is important to understand how falling over the cliff will hurt college students -- and Illinois' future job prospects. If Congress fails to act in the coming hours on President Obama's plan, student aid experts predict middle- and low-income students will pay about $5,000 more per year for college, before rising tuition, fees or other costs are even taken into account. This extra $5,000 could force thousands of existing students to "stop out" of college to work and save money for their next tuition bill, delaying the time it takes to earn a certificate or degree needed to land more than a minimum wage job. Each deferred semester and every undereducated worker threatens our state's ability to retain and attract the quality employers we need to stay competitive in the 21st century. It's not just Indiana we have to worry about when it comes to corporate headquarters, but India. What exactly is at risk in the higher education fiscal cliff come fall of 2013? According to the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs, that $5,000 tab is generated from several devastating reductions, including:
- 50,000 work study students could lose their jobs, or 680,000 could see cuts to their hours and wages;
- Fees on Stafford and PLUS loans could increase, meaning undergrads, graduate students and parents will have to take on more debt to cover expenses;
- The Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants could be slashed $57 million, which translates to 110,000 students losing the funds or more than 1 million receiving smaller amounts.