DES MOINES – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch released an “Open Doors for Iowa Students” plan Thursday that he said is designed to drive down student debt for Iowa college students and their families.
“Our students face serious challenges as costs associated with attending college continue to increase, and the cost of borrowing adds additional financial stress,” Hatch told reporters during a teleconference.
“Too many Iowa students either have downgraded their collegiate ambitions or find themselves afraid and unprepared for the avalanche of debt that awaits them upon graduation, and, for too many the education that gave them a step up later becomes a monthly burden that holds them down,” the state senator added.
Hatch said his plan contains two major components — the first is a more flexible accelerated bachelors of arts degree program that allows students to make use of credits earned at any Iowa public or private college, community college or regents university and the second is a new state low-interest loan program through the new Iowa Office of Educational Opportunity.
Hatch’s plan proposes to use $150 million in funds from the existing surplus to help 5,000 students borrow $3,000 per year per student based on need. The loan fund would be expected to self-sustain in the fifth year of operation.
“These ideas, used in tandem, will make college shorter and less expensive for the Iowa students who have the most difficulty affording higher education,” he said.
Hatch said he plans a tour of Iowa college campuses by the end of January.