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February 01, 2010 4:01 PM The W Word

By Daniel Luzer

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According to President Obama’s State of the Union address last week, the president plans to change the American student loan system so that debt will be forgiven after 20 years (or 10 years for students who spend a decade in public service) and student loan payments cannot constitute more than 10 percent of a graduate’s income.

While Obama’s plan isn’t exactly a radical departure from current law (2007’s Federal College Cost Reduction and Access Act also limits student loan repayments) the Obama plan has some up in arms.

Fox News panelists wonder: “IS IT REALLY COLLEGE WELFARE?

Well I guess that depends on what you mean by welfare.

Welfare generally means government payments to promote the public well being. That means that Pell Grants are welfare. So was Aid to Families with Dependent Children. So is the national highway system.

So sure, Obama’s student loan plan might be welfare. What’s the problem, again?

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer