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Student Loan Interest Rates Could Double This Summer

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Advocates weigh risking cutbacks in the Pell program for low-income students

By Chris Levister

Americans owe almost $1 trillion in student loans. As if paying off students loans wasn't tough enough, interest rates could double this summer. On July first, the interest rate on federally subsidized loans will go from 3.4% to 6.8%. That means the more than 7 million students taking out loans for the next school year will have to dig deeper in their pockets to pay them off.
If Congress does nothing, the cost to students borrowing the maximum $23,000 in subsidized loans is an extra $5,000 over a 10-year repayment period.
President Barack Obama is launching a major campaign to convince Congress to extend the lower interest rate, including a Twitter campaign, an appearance on the Jimmy Fallon show and multiple speeches on the increase. The President used his weekly radio address and a round of visits to large universities in North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa to call on Congress to put forward and pass legislation to prevent the loan hike.

The partisan flavor of the debate is all but sure to be on display at Obama's college events, which are likely to feel more like re-election rallies.

At a time when Americans owe more on student loans than on credit cards — student debt is topping $1 trillion for the first time — and the Occupy movement has highlighted the rising furor over spiraling student debt, the issue has moved higher on the political agenda. But the question of what to do about the looming interest rate increase has landed deep in the chasm separating Democrats from Republicans, who accuse the president of using the issue in a fiscally irresponsible way, in an attempt to buy the youth vote.

The White House insists Obama's events are driven by the need for college affordability and his view that education is an economic cornerstone.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement, millions of students would be financially squeezed if rates go up, to the cost of an additional $1,000 on average. "More and more middle-class families are starting to think college might not be for them," Duncan said. "It's for rich folks. That's a real problem."

Another problem: The cost of keeping the interest rates frozen on these subsidized Stafford loans could run $6 billion a year.

Subsidized Stafford loans are low-interest loans for eligible students that help cover the cost of higher education at a four-year college or university, community college, or trade and technical schools.

It is unclear how that cost would be paid. Duncan said the administration will work with Congress on the answer. For now, the White House is pushing a one-year extension, not a permanent fix.

“Bad policy based on lofty campaign promises has put us in an untenable situation,” said John P. Kline Jr., the Minnesota Republican who is chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. The low interest rate stemmed from the 2007 College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which reduced interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans over the following four academic years — from 6.8 percent to the current 3.4 percent — with the proviso that the rates would revert to 6.8 percent this July.

Mr. Kline, who earlier this year called the interest-rate hike a “ticking time bomb set by Democrats,” said he was exploring other options in hopes of finding a solution that served borrowers and taxpayers equally well. For Obama, the matter gives him a platform to position himself as a defender of the middle class or those working to make their way into it. He is shifting from the issue of tax fairness, which he has hammered for weeks, to education in front of young voters who helped fuel his winning coalition in 2008.

The president carried voters between the ages of 18-29 by a margin of about 2-to-1 in 2008, but many recent college graduates have faced high levels of unemployment, raising concerns about whether they will vote in large numbers for Obama again. Outside Congress, even some of the strongest student-aid advocates debate the question. While nearly everyone is in favor of the broad goal of college affordability, some experts point out that even 6.8 percent is lower than the rate on most private student loans. And they question whether it is worth risking cutbacks in the Pell program for low-income students, one possible consequence of using more federal money to keep interest rates low on the Stafford loans, which are in wide use by middle-income students.

When the 2007 law was passed, 77 Republicans — most of whom are still in Congress — voted for it. But in the current climate of fractious partisanship, new legislation introduced by Representative Joe Courtney to extend the lower rate has 127 co-sponsors, all of them Democrats. Mr. Courtney said he was hopeful that some Republican support would be forthcoming as the political stakes became more apparent. "President Obama believes we must reward hard work and responsibility by keeping interest rates on student loans low so more Americans get a fair shot at an affordable college education," the White House said in a statement.

Polling shows Obama holds a sizable lead over his presumed opponent, Mitt Romney among registered voters under 30. In Obama's first run for the White House, young voters helped him carry GOP-leaning states like North Carolina and Indiana thanks to major voter registration drives on college campuses.

Obama campaign officials have estimated a universe of about 8 million voters between the ages of 18 and 21 who weren't old enough to vote in 2008 but could be tapped to support the president this time. Yet Obama may be a tougher sell to young people this time.

Shirley King Remembered

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When Shirley King woke up last week she could not breathe and called 911. The ambulance was too late and she succumbed to an apparent ashma attack.

Loved by her family, friends and church members at Loveland, she will be missed.

Shirley Ann King, born June 14, 1943 in Los Angeles, California, was the first born child of David and Jean King. She had one sister, Yvonne.

Shirley attended school in Los Angeles until the family moved to Fontana in 1956. It was here that she accepted Christ and joined First Baptist Church of North Fontana (now Loveland Church) and worked as a Youth Usher and sang in the choir. She remained active in her church to the end.

Shirley graduated from Fontana High School in 1961 and then attended Chaffey Community College in Rancho Cucamonga. In 1965, Shirley began working as a Teacher’s Aide for Ms. Eva Dale Edwards at North Fontana Head Start. In 1968, she became a Teacher’s Aide for the Fontana Unified School District. She also worked as a substitute teacher for the San Bernardino and Fontana Unified School Districts.

Shirley entered the mortuary business when she started helping Mr. & Mrs. McZeal at Palm Chapel Mortuary in Fontana. She would later become one of their directors. Throughout the years, she was known for her kindness and zeal as she helped families at the time of their final need. She also worked for Simpson Family Mortuary in San Bernardino.

On May 26, 1978, Shirley and Albert Kilpatrick were blessed by the arrival of their son, Sean Edward Kilpatrick. Albert and Sean both preceded her in death.

Shirley leaves to cherish her memory: her sister, Yvonne King of Rialto; her niece, Marguerite (Ricky) Cross of Fontana; spiritual daughter, Brandi Bullard of San Bernardino; grand-daughter, Mikah DeSean Kilpatrick of San Bernardino; spiritual brothers, Pastor Chuck Singleton and Norman Patterson; spiritual sister, Jessie (Art) Lewis; 26 grandchildren, a host of great-grandchildren; and so many cousins and countless friends.

Youth Arts Council Hosts Annual Art Hop May 5th

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The Banning Cultural Alliance Youth Arts Council has big plans for fun and entertainment at the Cinco de Mayo, Art Hop and Recycling Fair in downtown Banning from 10 am to 3 pm, including free performances by entertainer Jerome Robinson, Illusionist d.o.C and their own ‘Top Ten’ members. The Art Hop, considered the Alliance’s signature event, offers great vendor shopping, artwork, demonstrations, exhibits, contests and more.

Over the past four years the Alliance Youth Arts Council (YAC) has hosted a youth area complete with arts and crafts projects.

This year they will offer several fun projects for the young and young at heart to participate in including: whirly gigs, button jewelry, bead crafts, craft tile art, and projects for the Cinco De Mayo aspect of the celebration including sun masks, God’s eyes, a sombrero craft and tissue paper flowers.

Another type of flower fun will be provided this year as Krista’s Cake Art returns for youth to learn to make cake art flowers.

Along with the numerous crafts the Youth Arts Council will host their own stage where Alliance youth from Top Ten Junior and Top Ten-The Next Level will perform.  The YAC stage will also headline singer Jerome Robinson, of Second Generation Platters fame and Illusionist Christopher Abeyta Robinson has a repertoire that includes songs, from Sentimental Journey" to Credence Clearwater's "Proud Mary."

He is also beloved for his ability to lend his voice to impersonations of such greats as Billy Holiday, Lou Rawls, Nat King Cole, Louie Armstrong, Neil Diamond, Dean Martin and more.  Jerome has amazed local audiences in the Pass area for years now and was dubbed "The Voice of Banning" in 2008, by Mayor, Brenda Salas and the Banning, City Council.  He also performs to sold out crowds at Russo’s Italian Kitchen on the 1st and 3rd Friday of each month.

“I am glad to call him friend, and honored to have him perform on the youth stage,” said Cindy Watson youth program director for the Alliance.

”My favorite song that he performs is "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,"“ she added  Jerome’s favorite soundman Ralph McGuire of Sweetheart Karaoke/DJ will also provide the sound system for the YAC stage. Also, on the YAC stage, Christopher Abeyta, AKA: d.o.C the Illusionist, joined by wife LMA and son Punkie Pie.

Abeyta entertains audiences with pocket illusions and trickery.  While d.o.C the Illusionist performs around the entire event, his wife also entertains, creating animals and other items from balloons.

“Our main goal is to make them smile,” said Abeyta. The illusionist’s on stage performance during the Art Hop, is a 30 minute performance with audience participation and bigger stage illusions.

Although the stage details are still being worked, according to Watson, additional performances include Top Ten band “Let Um Shout,” “Carnival of the Massacred,” and  Other entertainment will come from alumni YAC member DJ “Projeckt Lost Noize,” who will perform at the beginning and end of the event, as well as during stage set ups. “I am so proud of Mickki and how much he has improved both as DJ and a person,” said Watson. “I am so glad that he can join us for our last event,” she added. “I hope that all of our youth that have been a part of the Alliance Youth Programs over the past four years, will come out to say goodbye,” said Watson, who added that due to lack of funding, the youth programs will end at the end of June.

“I have met and worked with thousands of youth over the past four years and sincerely hope that they can all come join us for this fun day of celebration,” said Watson. The YAC area is just a small part of all the vendor shopping, entertainment and exhibits that will be at the Art Hop on Saturday May 5th located at the intersection of San Gorgonio Avenue and Hays Street in the heart of downtown Banning.

For more information or to volunteer at the Art Hop contact

tel:951-922-4911"951-922-4911. Vendor Applications are available online by visiting BanningCulturalAlliance.org.

RAAHS Dedicates Memorial at Evergreen

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On a warm Sunday afternoon, in the beauty and serenity of the renovated Evergreen Cemetery, the Riverside African American Historical Society unveiled a dedicated monument with a partial list honoring Riverside's African American loved ones buried at the cemetery and provided a booklet which included family photos and historical background of these early settlers and builders of the Riverside community.

In the past, Evergreen Cemetery lost funding for maintenance and the cemetery fell into disrepair and suffered from vandalism. The Riverside African American Historical Society, whose current membership includes persons related to early Black families buried at Evergreen, joined the community response to restore and revitalize the cemetery and to celebrate the memory of the African Americans who could be located and identified.

Near downtown Riverside, Evergreen Cemetery lies at the foot of Mt. Rubidoux. Founded in 1872, it is the final resting place for more than 27,000 people, including an unknown number of African Americans, buried at the graveyard, instead of segregated in a separate area, as was the universal practice across America in that era.

UC Riverside Listed in “Guide to 322 Green Colleges”

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U.S. Green Building Council is a partner in selection of Most Environmentally Responsible Colleges

By Kris Lovekin

RIVERSIDE — As the nation gears up to celebrate Earth Day on April 22, The Princeton Review and the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released the third annual guidebook saluting the nation’s most environmentally responsible “green colleges.” “We’re happy to see UC Riverside on the list, with a score of 95 out of 99 possible points,” said John Cook, UCR’s sustainability coordinator. “From research into battery technology to solar-power farms, to a student organization called Sustainable UCR. To LEED-certified buildings, we will be celebrating quite a bit this Earth Week.”

“The Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges: 2012 Edition” profiles 322 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada that demonstrate notable commitments to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities and career preparation. The list is part of the Center for Green Schools intended to improve how campuses are designed, constructed and operated.

The guide includes: School profiles with application, admission, financial aid and student enrollment information; “Green Highlights” write-ups detailing each school’s most impressive environmental and sustainability initiatives; “Green Facts” sidebars reporting statistics and facts on everything from the school’s use of renewable energy sources, recycling and conservation programs to the availability of environmental studies programs, and green jobs career guidance; A glossary of 40+ green terms and acronyms from AASHE to “zero waste”; and Lists identifying schools in the book with various green distinctions – among them: those with LEED-certified buildings and those that are signatories of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

The Princeton Review chose the 322 schools based on a survey it conducted in 2011 of hundreds of colleges across the U.S. and in Canada to tally its annual “Green Rating” scores (scaled from 60 to 99) of colleges for its school profiles in its college guidebooks and website. The survey asks administrators more than 50 questions about their institution’s sustainability-related policies, practices and programs. The Company tallied Green Ratings for 768 institutions in summer 2011. The 322 schools in this guide received scores of 83 or above in that assessment. (Note: The Princeton Review does not rank the schools in this guide hierarchically (1 to 322) according to their Green Rating scores, nor does it include those scores in this book’s school profiles.)

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