High school grads may be looking forward to entering into the working world or heading off to college. For those finishing college, there is the excitement of completing a college program and heading off to the next challenge Congratulations to all for the hard work, commitment, and perseverance to finish the job.
For those headed to the workforce, there will no doubt be uncertainty and hesitation about whether there is work out there, and whether it will be enough to make ends meet. For college grads in particular, that can be daunting, especially if they are burdened with a significant amount of student loan debt. The average college student is graduating with approximately $28,000 in debt. While that might seem like little more than a car payment, the average student is also coming out into a limited job market, and the prospects for quick repayment are slim for many.
For those heading to college, no doubt one of the top questions most students and their families will face, aside from what to study, is how to pay for it all. As the costs of college continues to spiral, families across the country may be faced with yet an additional expense, as Congress and the president face a looming deadline on student loan interest rates. The rates are set to double at the end of the month, from 3.4% to 6.8%. Many in Washington are wringing their hands over the pending increase, but as of yet have done little stop it.
Sen. Bernie Sanders is drafting legislation that would reform how students pay for higher education. He also is working with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who introduced legislation that would ensure students are offered the same loan rates the Fed gives big banks on Wall Street: 0.75 %.
Sanders’ and Warren’s efforts are commendable. It makes no sense that a college education costs as much as it does in this country. It makes even less sense that a student might have to borrow tens of thousands of dollars to pay for it. Leaders in both the public and private sectors continue to constantly extol the necessity of a college education for an individual to succeed in the modern work world, and for the country to compete in the global marketplace. Yet few are willing to put their money where their mouths are and develop affordable ways to pay for college.
Add to that an electorate that seems unwilling or unable to demand reform of our education systems and how we pay for them, and we have an untenable situation in which college will increasingly be out of reach for many in this country.
A college education should be within the grasp of every student in this country, and should not saddle graduates with a debt burden that may take half of their productive adult work years to pay off. If, as so many say, a college-educated population is critical to the overall success of the country, then we need to make that education less burdensome on students and families. Congress needs to stave off the rate increase, and then find ways to lower the costs of higher education.