ATLANTA (AP/WAOK) – Thousands of students couldn’t afford to go to college this school year because the U.S. Department of Education made changes to a popular loan program.

The agency is putting more scrutiny on the PLUS loan program as part of an effort to more closely align government lending programs with industry standards and decrease default rates.

The tougher eligibility requirements affected families and schools everywhere, but historically black colleges were hit particularly hard because so many of their students come from low-income families dependent on PLUS loans.

The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education is a group representing predominantly black colleges. The group says families of more than 14,000 students at historically black colleges were denied PLUS loans last fall.

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