SECRETARY ARNE DUNCAN:  You’ve done an extraordinary job, and thanks right back at you.

TOM JOYNER :  Okay, but here we are, the situation where we’ve got some 15,000 HBCU students are who are not back in school because of this program.  And we have teachers, we have professors being furloughed because they’re not coming back to school.  My HBCUs, most of them, more than 90% of the enrollment is depending on student loans.  And when you don’t give us the student loans you’re essentially shutting down the institution.

SECRETARY ARNE DUNCAN:  Yeah, again, where students, I just want to repeat, where students had the loans, we desperately want to get to them to call or email universities that reached out, and again, if folks can call us at that number, 1-800-557-7394 we desperately want to get them back into school.  Anyone who is out and was denied please reach out, please call us, we’ve done lots of calls, lots of emails, the university side as well, but I’m right with you Tom, they have to get back into school.

SYBIL WILKES:  But you have bureaucracy too.  So how quick of a turnaround are we talking about for them to get that?

SECRETARY ARNE DUNCAN:  Again, literally, we’ve had people who have been approved within six minutes, literally, on the phone.

TOM JOYNER :  What’s the number again?

SECRETARY ARNE DUNCAN:  1-800-557-7394.  And again we have multiple grant and loan programs.  And I’ll just repeat, for whatever reason, if they are denied the Plus loan they are automatically eligible for these Stafford loans, $4,000 dollars, which actually have a better interest rate, and more flexible payment options, repayment options.  So we want to work with every young person, every family, to make college more accessible, more affordable, and the big point is the goal is, as you guys know so well, is not to go to college, the goal is to graduate, to get that diploma.

TOM JOYNER :  Now how many people you’ve got manning this phone line?  Because I’m getting ready to blow it up.

SECRETARY ARNE DUNCAN:  Have them call!  Start at 8 o’clock eastern time and we’ll take those calls, and we want to meet people more than halfway.  And if they were enrolled and came out we have to find a way to get them re-enrolled.

TOM JOYNER :  If they can’t get through, is there a website?  A web address that they can write?

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SECRETARY ARNE DUNCAN:  Yeah.  And I would encourage all of your listeners we have multiple grant, multiple loans.  We didn’t talk yet about what we’ve done on the back end to make college, to make the repayments much easier.  So programs like “Pay As You Own” cap your repayment plans at 10% of your monthly income.  And if you go into public service, if you become a teacher or whatever, and we know how many fantastic teachers are coming out of HBCUs, after ten years of public service all of your debt is erased.  So there’s so much information on that website,  We want to help on the front end, but we really want to help on the back end as well once folks graduate and enter the world of work.

ROLAND MARTIN:  All right, Education Secretary, Arne Duncan.  We appreciate it, thanks a lot.

SECRETARY ARNE DUNCAN:  Thanks so much, guys.  Have a great morning.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on the Parent PLUS Loan  was originally published on

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