Alabama Commission on Higher Education Addresses Student Loan Forgiveness

Last month, President Biden announced his proposal to cancel student debt for up to 40 million Americans at a cost of $1.7 trillion. In Alabama, that was equivalent to 629,000 students ahead of a collective of $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. Although there are individual and short-term economic benefits, many question the fairness of the initiative.

“When President Biden announced his plan to cancel student debt two years ago, I said it was bad public policy,” said Jim Purcell, director of the Alabama Commission on higher education (ACHE). “Individuals should be responsible for their own lending obligations. This precedent could create hope that there will be more debt cancellation the next time the country faces a crisis.

Purcell added that the public dialogue around the loan forgiveness program has refocused the conversation on college and university affordability. The cost to attend college is particularly 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 of Directors. Frost was appointed in 2015 by Gov. Robert Bentley as Congressional District Five’s representative to the Commission.

Frost’s experience in strategic planning will be essential in the higher education community as Alabama prepares for the new quadrennium.

“As a business owner and advocate for higher education, I look forward to supporting and advancing initiatives that will allow our college graduates to stay in the state after graduation,” said Frost.

Frost is Chief Chairman.

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executive of LogiCore Corporation, a Huntsville-based company that provides logistics, engineering, and information technology services to United States Department of Defense agencies.

“Dr. Purcell informed us today about the All in Alabama campaign which highlights the many opportunities that await graduates in Alabama. We urge these talented graduates to stay in Alabama and be a part of it all.

Frost was named one of Business Alabama’s 22 of 22 Women in Technology. Earlier this year, she was named to the Interim Joint Study Commission on Responsible Technology by the Public Education and State Workforce Development Board.

A graduate of Alabama A&M University, Frost is a member of the Greater Huntsville Rotary Club and board member of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce.

Amy Shipley Price, who represents the Third Congressional District on the Commission, was elected vice chair. 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 graduated in nursing from the Methodist Hospital School of Nursing and has a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Mississippi for women and a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Alabama.

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A former governor appointed to the Alabama Board of Nursing, the Alpine resident was named to the Alabama Health Workforce Task Force this year.

“The expertise provided by these commissioners in technology and healthcare, as well as their leadership skills, will be great assets to higher education and the state of Alabama,” Purcell said.

The Alabama Commission on Higher Education, founded in 1969, is the state’s coordinating board for all public institutions of higher education. The council is made up of 12 members from across Alabama.

Commissioners approved new academic programs for the following:

1. Athens State University

Master of Science in Procurement and Contract Management

2. Auburn University

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Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing

3. Jacksonville State University

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

4. University of Alabama

a. Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience

b. Bachelor of Science in Sport Management

vs. Bachelor of Science in Business Cybersecurity

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5. University of Montevallo

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 Southern Alabama

Doctor of Occupational Therapy in Occupational Therapy

8. Southern Union State Community College

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Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology/Technician

Dorothy H. Lewis