Should Student Loans Have a Minimum GPA Requirement?

by on September 24th, 2010
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As a recent college graduate I, like nearly every one of my peers, have several student loans. Indeed, getting my undergraduate degree would not have been possible without them. Federally-subsidized Stafford loans were of particular help as they require no payments until I finish my schooling (I’m currently in graduate school) and interest accrued in the meantime is covered by the government.

Student loans that are subsidized by the federal government should have a minimum GPA requirement, if for no other reason than they are funded by tax revenues: It is a poor investment of the public’s money if the recipient of a federally-subsidized loan cannot maintain a certain GPA. Additionally-because these types of loans are both necessary and helpful for a substantial number of people who could not afford to attend college otherwise-federal funds should go to those students who deserve them most so that hard-working low-income students have the opportunity they need to receive a degree.

I propose that, in order to be eligible for federally-subsidized student loans, student must maintain a minimum average GPA of 3.0. Certainly there are times when students will simply have an “off” semester: perhaps they get stuck with an abnormally hard course load or have an inordinate amount of outside life stressors negatively impacting their grades. I’m not suggesting that students be punished for such things-after all, life happens. However, some type of probationary system can easily strike a balance in requiring a good return on taxpayer dollars while simultaneously avoiding unjustly punishing students for having an “off” semester. For instance, receiving lower than a 3.0 GPA over the course of a semester would put a student on probation and serve as a warning that grades need to improve during the next semester-If the student gets a 3.0 or higher the next semester, probation is lifted; if the student gets lower than a 3.0 the next semester, they become ineligible for federally-subsidized student loans the following semester. Due to the existence of private (i.e., unsubsidized) loans, such a system won’t leave anyone without means to continue their education.

Private student loans, on the other hand, should carry no GPA requirement as they are only paid for by the person who takes out the loan. In these cases, the student should have absolutely no contractual responsibilities outside those that the lender sees fit to include in the loan agreement.

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