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JCSU's Carter Pushes To Loosen Standards For Federal PLUS Loans

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Tasnim Shamma

Johnson C. Smith University President Ron Carter is urging the Department of Education to reconsider changes to the Federal Parent PLUS loan. Carter blames those changes for the school's recent three million dollar budget cut.

He says the approval rate has dropped from about 50 percent to about 24 percent since the changes to the federal loan program were made two years ago. The Department of Education says it made the changes to be in line with private lending standards.

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Credit Tasnim Shamma
Johnson C. Smith University's Biddle Hall. JCSU is an HBCU (historically black college and university).

Parents applying for the loan now go through a more stringent credit check. Parents who have an "adverse credit history" including default on other federal student loans or accounts in collections in the past five years are more likely to be denied.

"This knee-jerk approach to financing the future is a dead-end pathway with long term economic consequences," Carter says. "When students are forced to drop out of college, they join the growing ranks of under-employed Americans."

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Credit Tasnim Shamma
Christian Fair, a sophomore at Johnson C. Smith University, says he and his father applied for a PLUS loan and was denied twice. He was $600 short of being able to sign up for classes this semester, but alumni pitched in to cover the cost.

Last week, the school laid-off 21 employees and froze or eliminated 30 other positions as part of its budget cuts to deal with a drop in enrollment. Carter says last year, there was a record number of students on campus but that 300 of them came up short when it was time to pay their tuition and 120 dropped out.

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