Recently, a special report was released by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale regarding help for Pennsylvania students struggling to pay for college. In a set of recommendations, DePasquale called for lawmakers to create an independent student loan advocate to help educate consumers and push for higher education reforms. The report was titled, “Empowering College Borrowers.”
“Pennsylvania is one of the top states for total student borrowing and the average student loan debt in our state is now more than $37,000,” DePasquale said on the subject. “Pennsylvania must do more to help students and parents afford college, as well as understand the implications of borrowing for higher education.”
Part of DePasquale’s proposal states his desire for lawmakers to restructure the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency’s (PHEAA) board. He called for fewer lawmakers and more members from the private sector. These new recommendations follow a previous special performance audit done in 2008, calling for a reduction in the number of legislators on the board.
The special report offers three formal recommendations:
- The General Assembly should create an independent Office of Student Loan Advocate to give borrowers a voice, help educate consumers, and advocate for state-related reforms in higher education
- The General Assembly should restructure PHEAA’s Board of Directors, decrease the number of legislators, and add diverse members from education, finance and other fields in the private sector
- PHEAA must continue to monitor all expenses and direct as much funding as possible to help ensure that Pennsylvanians can achieve an affordable education and ensure students take the priority over PHEAA executives and management level employees
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