Regarding “College enrollment across St. Louis fails to rebound following steep pandemic decline” (Nov. 8): Community colleges, historically Black colleges and universities, and public universities bear the brunt of this national enrollment decline. Total enrollment of U.S. college students fell from 21 million in 2010 to 19.9 million in 2021. A major contributor was the increase in student loan debt, which is now at $1.5 trillion.
The College Cost and Reduction and Access Act of 2007 is trying to increase federal funding for financial aid. However, the amount was stretched out over a period of five years, mitigating the effects significantly. The policy also created the Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness Program, which provides loan forgiveness to those who have made 120 direct loan payments under a public service job.
This program is crucial in allowing low-income students going into public service jobs, one of the professions hit hardest by the student loan crisis. However, the Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness Program has recently come under fire for its harsh eligibility requirements. Easing this program’s eligibility requirements so that it is not only for those working in public service, but also for all low-income students going to college, would increase college enrollment in community colleges as well as help close the wealth-inequality gap.