News in brief

Congress called to reform student loan system

Just four months after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced that the federal student loan debt topped $1 trillion, Consumers Union, the policy division of Consumer Reports, called on Congress last week to create “urgently-needed” reforms to the current student loan system.

The group submitted its agenda in a policy brief, outlining some of its concerns with the current system. According to the group, there are problems in the system with overborrowing, repayment options, extra charges and growing loan balances.

“It’s time for Congress to adopt reforms that help students find the most affordable options for financing college and provide borrowers with reasonable safeguards and flexible repayment options to manage their obligations responsibly,” urged Suzanne Martindale, staff attorney for Consumers Union.

In July 2013, it was reported that the federal student loan debt crossed the $1 trillion threshold — an amount exceeding all other consumer loans except mortgage. The debt is nearly 100 times larger than the total personal income generated by U.S. citizens, amounting to nearly $13 billion in 2012. It’s also larger than the nation’s total credit card debt and amount owed in car payments.

Loan debt is an issue affecting nearly two-thirds of the population at UCR. According to Director of Financial Aid Jose A. Aguilar, about 65 percent of UCR’s 2012 graduates took out student loans. The repayment rate, however, hasn’t been a huge issue up to this point. According to UCR’s website, about 97 percent of students repay their federal loans on time.

Courtesy of USPS
Courtesy of USPS

Harry Potter stamps to hit market

It was announced Tuesday, Nov. 19, that the U.S. Postal Service will release 20 postage stamps that feature characters from the Harry Potter franchise.

According to the Washington Post, the postal service, which has recently struggled financially, is hoping that the move to include the fictional wizards will help the postal service increase sales among younger age groups.

A recent study found that the use of “snail mail” has decreased over the years, especially among young adults, who are sometimes considered to be a part of the “Harry Potter generation.” Only 23 percent of this age group was found to use the service four times a month, compared to older adults at 47 percent.

Postmaster General Patrick R. Don­ahoe said that the choice to feature these characters was made in order to appeal to the younger generation. According to him, the service “needs to change its focus toward stamps that are more commercial.”

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