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Parent PLUS Loan Program Reform - Too Little, Too Late

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Washington, DC, Aug. 8, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is calling on Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) leaders, advocates and alumni to speak out on the proposed federal Parent PLUS Loan (PPL) program changes published by the Department of Education (Education Department) today in the Federal Registry, said TMCF President & CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.

The Education Department released details on proposed changes to the PPL program, to take effect in July 2015, as a reform to its previous changes put in force without warning. The 2011 change negatively impacted more than 28,000 HBCU students - forcing many of them to withdraw from college - reducing graduation rates significantly and reducing tuition revenue for colleges nationwide.

"This proposed reform, with a 2015 effective date, doesn't help the students forced to withdraw two years ago neither does it do anything to help those hoping to begin their college career starting later this month," said Taylor. "The Education Department repeatedly ignored proposals from higher education leaders that would've substantially mitigated the damage done to children from lower and middle-income families devastated by the Great Recession."

TMCF has been at the forefront on the PPL issues urging Secretary Duncan and President Obama to reconsider the new criteria implemented without warning in late September 2011, particularly for those students who were then-enrolled in school and whose families had received PLUS loans before the change. Taylor and other higher education leaders have held several meetings with the Education Department and sent letters requesting that students be "grandfathered" so that they could continue their education.

The changes to the PPL program have cost colleges tens of millions of dollars in tuition revenue over the past two years. HBCUs, in particular, also felt an added burden with additional cuts in their federal and state funding - creating a financial crisis for both publically-supported and private HBCUs. TMCF remains concerned about the reduced graduation rates and the higher education crisis affecting our nation's college-bound students. With double-digit unemployment rates persisting in the African American community, HBCU students will continue to be at a disadvantage in meeting the PPL requirements, even with the proposed reform changes.

"This reform is too little, too late", Taylor continued. "We are literally watching some of our best students and colleges suffer needlessly as a result of this continued delay. I am urging HBCU leaders, advocates, students, and alumni to comment on the PPL reform and speak out to help the tens of thousands of students denied college access."

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ABOUT THE THURGOOD MARSHALL COLLEGE FUND (TMCF)

TMCF is named for the U.S. Supreme Court's first African-American Justice. Established in 1987, TMCF supports and represents nearly 300,000 students attending its 47 member-schools that include public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), medical schools and law schools. Through its scholarships and programs, TMCF plays a key role in preparing the leaders of tomorrow. For more information on TMCF, visit us at thurgoodmarshallcollegefund.org.

CONTACT: Tangie Newborn tangie.newborn@tmcfund.org 202-888-0039

Source:Thurgood Marshall College Fund