Radio Address to the Nation on the Caribbean Basin Initiative and Student Loans

April 10, 1982

My fellow Americans:

I'm speaking to you today from Bridgetown, capital of Barbados, the easternmost nation in a chain of beautiful islands in the Caribbean sea that swings south from the tip of Florida in an arc all the way to the shores of South America.

This Caribbean Basin is our third border. Through it come two-thirds of all our imported oil and over half the strategic minerals we need to import for industry and our national defense. As John Adams once said of these islands, ``They can neither do without us nor we without them.''

I came down here to discuss with some of the leaders of these island nations what we can do about problems we have in common. Wednesday, in Jamaica, I met with Prime Minister Seaga, the Governor General, members of the Cabinet and of Parliament. Day before yesterday, we flew here to Barbados for meetings with Prime Minister Adams, the Governor General, and leaders of five other eastern Caribbean nations. We took yesterday, Good Friday, off. And tomorrow we'll go to church and then fly back to Washington.

On March 17th, I sent the Congress a proposal for a Caribbean Initiative, a plan for trade, aid, and private investment aimed at strengthening the economies of these islands and the countries of Central America bordering on the Caribbean. We're joined in this effort by Mexico, Canada, Venezuela, and Colombia. I believe our plan is sound and in our best interest as well as theirs.

The meetings were worthwhile. And I'm looking forward to hearing from the congressional delegation which has been visiting some of the other islands while we're here.

There are other problems in the Americas. Two of our friends, the United Kingdom and Argentina, confront each other in a complex disagreement which goes back many generations. Because they're both our friends, I've offered our help in an effort to bring the two countries together. Secretary Haig has completed a visit to London and is now in Buenos Aires. We'll do all we can to help bring a peaceful resolution of this matter.

But now I'd like to take a few minutes to talk about a domestic problem. There's obviously a great misconception on the part of many young people with regard to the program of college grants and guaranteed loans and what we're doing with that program in the 1983 budget.

On many campuses, students are being told they may not be able to return to school next year. In some instances, they've even been incited to stage protest demonstrations against what have been called ``Draconian cuts'' in student aid. One columnist has written, evidently without checking, that millions of American youngsters won't go to college next fall because their government is snatching away grants and subsidized loans. Well, a lot of people have simply been misled.

It is true that the amount for guaranteed student loans will decrease from $2.7 billion this year to $2.4 billion in 1983, but not one dime of the money being cut has ever gone directly for loans to students. The actual loans that students receive under this program come from private banks and don't show up in the budget at all. If they did, they'd show the highest level ever -- $1.6 billion more in student loan awards in fiscal 1983 than this year.

We haven't cut loans. We've cut the cost to taxpayers of making these loans available. Surely no one can quarrel with the reduction in administrative costs that results in more money for needy students.

About 44 percent of all enrolled college students will receive aid, and undergraduate students who demonstrate need will be eligible for a veritable laundry list of help -- up to a $1,600 grant and up to a $2,500 guaranteed loan; work-study support, averaging $700 a year. A parent, regardless of wealth or income, will still be able to borrow up to an additional $3,000 a year. Graduate students will still be able to borrow up to $8,000 a year.

We've taken steps to provide greater aid for students from lower income families. The percentage of students from families earning $12,000 or less, receiving grants, will increase from 64 percent this year to about 75 percent. And the loans outstanding in the Guaranteed Student Loan program, available to future students, will increase by more than $10 billion next year -- actually 10.1 billion.

In 1983 more than 4\1/2\ million students will receive aid from guaranteed student loans, and that's just one of the programs -- a 22-percent increase over this year. All told, there will be 7 million grants and loans for a student population of between 11 and 14 million if you include even the part-time students.

Well, I'll be back next Saturday. Thank you. And Happy Easter, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 1:06 p.m. from Casa de Pablo, a private home owned by Paul H. Brandt, president and chairman of the board of A. Brandt Co., Inc., of Ft. Worth, Tex., where he stayed during his visit to Barbados.