The American Student Bill of Rights

Barry Lenson

The American Student Bill of Rights

If you’ve been reading the news lately, you have noticed that college students have become pawns in budget discussions in states from coast to coast.

Every day we read that Federal loan programs could be cut, that tuition at state colleges will go up, or that community colleges are cutting back on instruction.  And at the same time, curiously, politicians continue to give lip service to education. The future of America, they say, depends on students. There seems to be an odd disconnect taking place.

So we’re doing something unusual today on the StraighterLine Blog. We’re creating The American Student Bill of Rights. It’s a list of rights that students are entitled to in America. And we invite you to contribute to this document, by adding additional rights that students should be able to expect.

Ready? Here we go.

The American Student Bill of Rights

We hereby declare that in America in the year 2011, students have the right to expect the following from our Federal and state governments, and from educational institutions:

The right to continuity. Students have the right to know that the loan and degree programs in which they enroll will be maintained and offered continuously until they have completed their degree work.

The right to know expenses ahead of time. Students have the right to be protected from excessive and unexpected increases in tuition and other college costs.

The right to reasonable low-cost and low-interest loans. Students are not asking for free money – just for the right to borrow to finance their educations, and then repay their loans after they graduate. Furthermore, interest should not start to accrue on student loans until after graduation.

The right to select educational delivery systems. Students have the right to complete their coursework, and earn credits, in a variety of equal ways that include classroom study, online learning, “credit for life experience” or other choices.

The right to safe schools. Crime is growing at high schools, colleges and universities across America. That is unacceptable. Students have the right to expect, and attend, safe schools.

The right to fair and equal treatment.  No student should be discriminated against, or subjected to any discriminatory treatment because of his or her religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, physical capabilities, political orientation, or any other factor.

The right to be protected from unrealistic textbook costs. For too long, textbook publishers have charged absurdly high prices for college textbooks, and raised prices at their discretion without warning. Students have the right to be protected from such unreasonable price inflation while they are pursuing their educations.

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