Reviving the popular education theme of his re-election campaign, President Clinton announced another drop in the college loan default rate Thursday and promised to seek “dramatic advancements in education” in his second term.
The number of borrowers who defaulted on student loans dropped to 199,233 in fiscal 1994, compared with 212,052 a year earlier. It was the fourth straight year of decline, with the default rate dropping to 10.7 percent. The high was 22.4 percent in 1990.
The president credited tougher screening of schools, more stringent efforts to collect loans and a healthy economy that has created jobs for graduates. He made his comments in an Oval Office ceremony with Education Secretary Richard Riley.
Clinton said he financed his higher education with scholarships, loans and jobs and had long felt that it should be easier for people to go to college. But, “it ought to be harder to evade your obligation to repay the debt.”
Looking ahead to his second term, Clinton said he was committed to “open the doors of college education to everyone.”
“The core of my second-term efforts to build a bridge to the 21st century will be dramatic advancements in education,” the president said.
The centerpiece of his effort will be a $1,500 tax credit for community college classes and tax deductions up to $10,000 a year for college tuition.
Chances are very good that Congress will approve the program, Clinton said. “The atmosphere so far feels good to me” in preliminary talks with the Republican Congress, he said.