Weekly Round-up September 15th, 2014

Parents May Soon Find it Easier to Obtain College Loans Under New Plan:

  • In 2011, it became increasingly difficult to obtain a Parent Plus loan.  This has especially affected many poor families, who find it difficult for their children to attend undergrad and graduate school without loans.
  • For a parent with negative credit history, it is much more difficult to secure funding for their child to continue their education.
  • The Obama Administration has proposed a revision with respect to the current Parent Plus loan screening process. If the proposed plan goes into effect, when doing its standard credit check, instead of going back five years, the Education Department will only go back two years. Additionally, if there is a debt below $2,085, it will not be considered as a reason to reject a loan application. Under the current policy, delinquencies of any amount can be a bar to gaining access to student loans. The Administration projects that this change in policy will lead to at least an additional 370,000 individuals being approved for loans.
  • Proponents of this policy change see it as a way to increase low-income students enrollment in higher education. Currently, Stafford Loans, which are an option for undergraduate students are capped at $57,000 for life. Many times, this is not enough to meet education costs, and it is even more difficult to obtain private loans if a parent has negative credit history.
  • Critics are concerned that borrowing large sums of money will lock individuals into repayment for a lifetime, and they have compared it to the housing market crash that occurred when banks were approving mortgages that were unrealistically high compared to a person’s income. They also point to the fact that student debt has doubled since 2007, and it is now $1.1 trillion.
  • The Obama Administration’s goal is to create a policy that will increase college and graduate school enrollment rates amongst poor families without burdening them with over borrowing or excessive tuitions. For more on this, click here. (Wall Street Journal)

Rape: A Common Occurrence For Women Crossing the Southwest Border

  • The recent increase in immigration from Central America has continued to raise concerns for young girls and women.
  • A recent report by Fusion revealed that 80 percent of women and girls crossing the U.S./Mexico border are raped at some point during their journey.  The victims have reported that some of the perpetrators are guides, fellow migrants, bandits or government officials.
  • This year, the United States immigration authorities are expecting more than 70,000 children to cross the border, many of them coming from Central American countries, including El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
  • Recently, there has been an increase in the number of girls who have been apprehended at the border.
  • Because rape and sexual assault has become such a common occurrence, many women and girls begin taking contraceptives before leaving their home countries.  To learn more about this, click here. (Huffington Post).

Domestic Violence Treatment Program:

  • The Richmond County District Attorney’s Office is beginning a new program aimed at providing counseling to domestic violence offenders. This program would be mandatory for every assault conviction and would focus on identifying the causes and triggers of the offender’s behavior and work to avoid future incidents.
  • Eyewitness News reported that Staten Island Senator Diane Savino helped to secure a grant of $100,000 for Community Health Action of Staten Island to head up this counseling program along with the programs that they already have in place for women and children. To view the press release for this new program, please click here.

Marriage Equality and Child Custody:

  • In 2011, New York passed the Marriage Equality Act, allowing same-sex couples to enjoy the same benefits of marriage as heterosexual couples. However, issues continue to arise in custody disputes when same sex couples divorce, the child was born before the marriage and the non-biological parent has not adopted the child.
  • This past Friday, an article in the New York Times discussed a Long Island woman’s struggle with losing custody and visitation of her son following separation from her wife, the boy’s biological mother. Because the couple was not legally married at the time of the birth, both women’s names could not be on the birth certificate.  The judge in Long Island presiding over the case reluctantly ruled in the biological mother’s favor because he found the law was on her side. To view the decision, please click here.
  • For now, some have advised for same-sex couples to wait until after marriage to have children or for non-biological parents to adopt any children from before the marriage right away.  To view an article on this decision by New York Law School’s Professor Arthur Leonard, please click here