The average college student in America will seek to graduate with an undergraduate degree but, in the process will amass $37,000.00 worth of debt. Middle and lower income families in Nebraska are no exception. While I was a doctoral student at the University of Nebraska, I had to make ends meet and borrow for family needs as well as collegiate tuition. I borrowed nearly $60,00.00 over my entire college education. I have repaid all but a few thousand dollars. The Financial Aid office at UNL encouraged me (and other students I believe) to borrow from NELNET, an education loan servicer of Federal Student loans headquartered in Lincoln, NE. Interests rates of the said student loans are set by the lender, not the Federal Government. As of this writing, NELNET stock NNI is trading at $55.96 a share. NELNET has a responsibility to its share holders to reap profits. Profits that are made from student loan repayment. Student loan interest rates can be raised or lowered at the discretion of NELNET CEO’s. Student loan companies like NELNET reported a combined profit of $1 Billion last year (according to Rolling Stone Article, Taibbi 2017). For the time being, the Federal Government has a student loan forgiveness program that will eliminate debt by students pledging to work for ten years for public service or a nonprofit. President Bush championed the idea. President Obama reinforced the idea. The current President wants to eliminate the student loan forgiveness program. Furthermore, it has been reported the current President of the United States wants to cut Federal Pell Grants by $3.9 Billion. The Federal Pell Grants are designed for lower and middle-income students that desperately want to attend universities like UNK, UNL, UNO, and UNMC. Meanwhile, the Nebraska State Legislature slashed funding to the University of Nebraska system by $50 million last legislative session. In response the University of Nebraska system has been diligently seeking ways to cut $50 million from the big four campuses. Also, tuition, fees, and room and board has been increasing in Nebraska over the years in a stair-step fashion. Universities around the country may use decrease in state aid as a reason to raise tuition. But, when a peer university in the BIG TEN like the University of Wisconsin was doing just that, and the citizens found out UW had a large endowment that could be used to cushion the blow but chose not to do so, caused a subsequent uproar. The University of Nebraska endowment size was reported to be $1.475 billion in 2016. I argue that the endowment can and should be utilized to offset budget cuts by the Nebraska State Legislature during lean years. There does not have to be such massive layoffs or cuts to student programming. I am running for Regent, not Legislature. But, by Federal law upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, the state of Nebraska must provide a public education K-12. When the great state of Kansas recently kept cutting the public education budget, the Kansas State Supreme Court ruled that the state’s funding allocation for public education was too low. Ultimately, Republican state senators revolted against Republican Governor Brownback and rejected such cuts to public education. I say that Republican state senators of Nebraska must do the same and not cut public education K-16.
If you elect me as your Regent for District 4, I promise to investigate and inquire about who is profiting from student loans. Who is invested and/or who is collecting campaign contributions from big student loan companies. I will hold the line on tuition increases and seek ways to offset an impending increase with ways such as transferring funds from the large endowment. I will work with all state senators Democrat, Republican, and Independent to ensure the University of Nebraska system can achieve a practical and transparent budget. By the way, as a current elected official on the Papio-Missouri River NRD, I have been on the Finance Committee for five years. I have studied, witnessed, and voted on audits and budgets. I have held the line for the taxpayers of Nebraska while overseeing an approximate budget of $70,000,000. I am not going into the Regent race green behind the ears with respect to the financial budget in the billions. I have faced the wrath of the tax paying public before.
I appreciate and trust you will see me fit to serve as your next Regent for District 4. Every Regent candidate will tout Affordable Education as part of their platform. I hope I have given you reason to separate me from any other candidate. Please vote for Dr. Larry Bradley on May 9th.