The Project on Student Debt released a report on Friday that shows North Carolina ranks last in providing community colleges with access to federal student loans. Without this more affordable option for financing their education, students are more likely to turn to higher cost private loans which can increase their likelihood of default and long-term damage to their credit score. In North Carolina, the Governor vetoed a bill that would have allowed community colleges to opt-out of offering federal loans–and made our standing worse– that goes into effect in 2012.
Importantly the report contributes further to the evidence that students who are disproportionately affected by a lack of access are in communities of color.
Nationally and across all groups, 9.2 percent of community college students are enrolled in colleges not participating in the federal loan program. That share rises to 16.4 for African-American students and 18.5 for Native-American students, the two groups least likely to have federal loan access. Of Latino students in community colleges, 8.5 percent are enrolled in non-participating colleges, as are 8.6 percent of white students.
All students in the community college system should be able to access the federal student loan program as a way to cover the full costs of their education. Such opportunities to access these federal dollars will support post-secondary success and contribute to the long-term competitiveness of North Carolina.