Thwarting Student Loan Disaster

Shantella Y. Sherman | 5/31/2012, 4:39 p.m.

"One of the biggest problems that I see is you've got the federal agencies populated with people [who] look out for each other. So whether or not you have Democrats or Republicans in the White House, you've got people in federal agencies, career civil servants [who] are program managers, and some of them come from the University of Chicago and Michigan and Stanford. They look to get proposals, support advisory councils and other kinds of advice from people that they know, and, as a result, a lot of those people get the federal grants," Harvey said.

Morehouse alumnus Malcolm McLemore, 44, believes that without reorganization and prioritizing, the financial collapse of the federal financial aid program is as imminent as the housing crisis.

"We have to return to the things of our past as African Americans and allow our churches and extended families to finance our kids' educations," he said.

"We should nest egg for our children's educations when they are babies without relying on federal aid, even it if means foregoing a larger house or new vehicle. We must sacrifice for our own futures because cuts are coming and if we are caught short, it is our own failure, not the president's and not the federal government," McLemore said.

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele weighed in on the dialogue in an exclusive interview with the Washington Informer, saying, when it comes to budgeting, HBCUs are no different than majority institutions and have to prioritize the importance of competing elements such as funding journal subscriptions or upgrading housing.

"Funding resources to programs, materials, and institutions are critical budget issues that every institution has to face. For HBCUs there must be an atmosphere of building the endowment. In other words, ask yourself as a prideful alumnus of a great HBCU, when was last time you wrote a check to the alumni network? " Steele asked.

Steele, 53, said that graduate support of black colleges is about much more than mere intra-racial care.

"It is a two-way street. In order to be relevant, you must be able to maintain state requirements, but also to demonstrate the value of your education. No one should be reliant upon a third party to achieve their educational goals," Steele said.