Last month President Biden announced his proposal to forgive student debt for up to 40 million Americans at a price tag of $1.7 trillion. In Alabama, that equated to 629,000 students owing a collective $24 billion. The average college debt in Alabama is $37,000. This exceeds the national average and ranks Alabama among the top 10 nationally in student debt. Nearly 500,000 Alabamians could benefit from the program. While there will be some individual and short-term economic benefits, many question the fairness of the initiative.
“When President Biden announced two years ago his plan to cancel student debt, I said it was bad public policy,” said Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE) Director Jim Purcell. “Individuals should be responsible for their own loan obligations. This precedent could create the expectation that there will be more debt forgiveness the next time the country faces a crisis.”
Purcell added that the public dialog around the loan forgiveness program has refocused the conversation on college and university affordability. The cost to attend a university is especially higher in Alabama than in many states.
At Friday’s quarterly meeting, Huntsville business owner Miranda Frost was elected chair of the 12- member ACHE board. Frost was appointed in 2015, by Governor Robert Bentley as the Congressional District Five representative on the Commission.
Frost’s experience in strategic planning will be critical in the higher education community as Alabama prepares for the new quadrennium.
“As a business owner and higher education advocate, I am looking forward to supporting and advancing initiatives that will keep our college graduates in the state post-graduation,” said Frost.
Frost is president in chief.
Executive Officer of LogiCore Corporation, a Huntsville-based company that provides logistics, engineering and information technology services to United States Department of Defense agencies.
“Dr. Purcell briefed us today on the All in Alabama campaign that highlights the many opportunities awaiting graduates in Alabama. We are advocating to these talented grads to stay in Alabama and be a part of it all.”
Frost was named one of Business Alabama’s 22 in 22 Women in Tech. Earlier this year she was appointed to the Joint Interim Study Commission on Responsible Technology by Public Education and the State Workforce Development Board.
A graduate of Alabama A&M University, Frost is a member of the Greater Huntsville Rotary Club and a board member of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce.
Elected as vice chair was Amy Shipley Price who represents the Third Congressional District on the Commission. She was appointed in 2016, by Governor Bentley.
Price is the Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Operating Officer at Coosa Valley Medical Center in Sylacauga.
She is a diploma nursing graduate of Methodist Hospital School of Nursing and holds a bachelor of science in nursing from Mississippi University for women and a master of science in nursing from the University of Alabama.
A former gubernatorial appointee to the Alabama Board of Nursing, the Alpine resident was appointed this year to the Alabama Healthcare Workforce Task Force.
“The expertise provided by these commissioners in technology and healthcare, along with their leadership skills, will be major assets for higher education and the State of Alabama,” said Purcell.
The Alabama Commission on Higher Education, founded in 1969, is the state coordinating board for all public institutions of higher education. The board is comprised of 12 members from throughout Alabama.
Commissioners approved new academic programs for the following:
1. Athens State University
a. Master of Science in Acquisition and Contract Management
2. Auburn University
a. Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
3. Jacksonville State University
a. Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
4. University of Alabama
a. Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience
b. Bachelor of Science in Sport Management
c. Bachelor of Science in Business Cyber Security
5. University of Montevallo
a. Bachelor of Science in Nursing
6. University of North Alabama
a. Bachelor of Business Administration in Innovation and Entrepreneurship
b. Master of Health Administration in Health Administration
7. University of South Alabama
a. Doctor of Occupational Therapy in Occupational Therapy
8. Southern Union State Community College
a. Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology/Technician