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Harvard Law & Policy Review

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education, college loans, student debt, stafford loans, public service, college repayment


Education Law | Law


If college is to be the gateway to security and success, then a new financing mechanism is essential, one that lets students take responsibility for the cost of their own educations without burdening their families unduly, forcing them into career choices that push them out of public service, or mortgaging their futures. Our Service Pays proposal is designed to give every student who wants to work hard a means of paying for college - and to give young people an economically viable option to engage in public service for a few years after college. After describing the high costs of college and the risks associated with student debt, the paper outlines the Service Pays program. The federal government would increase the amount students can borrow in the unsubsidized Stafford loan program, offering money for four years of college tuition, fees, and room and board to any student (regardless of family income) on the same terms as current student loans. The dollar amounts of the available loans would be pegged to average prices at public four-year colleges and universities, and students would have four years to work off those loans. The government would forgive students one year of college expenses for each year the student worked in public service after college. The paper then considers the types of service opportunities that would be eligible, the expected benefits of service, and the likely costs of Service Pays.

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