We should be making college more accessible to all students, not putting up barriers to all but the wealthiest applicants.–Martha Robertson
Graduates deserve bright future, not debt (Reed)
With students back at school and the academic year well underway, many college students will be working hard to secure internships or find their first full-time jobs. However, for thousands across the country, payments will need to be made on their student loans long before their first paycheck comes in the door.
I can personally relate to this struggle. I am the youngest of 12 children and was raised by a widowed mother on Social Security and military death benefits. As such, my family was not in a position to pay the full bill for my schooling. Getting my education required taking out loans, which I continue to pay back to this day.
I understand how financial burdens from college extend far into the future, and I feel for students when I talk with them about the rising cost of college. I think about my children, who will head off to college someday soon, and know that we can work together to care for our students by reducing the loan burden, educating families and ensuring opportunity after graduation.
Students and their families have difficult decisions to make when balancing what they can afford with the quality of education they are seeking. That’s why I’ve held roundtable discussions with students, parents, school administrators and financial air representatives to focus on the confusing and complex process of applying for financial aid. We need to improve federal student aid and educate our students about the choices they are making through enhanced financial counseling. We should also work together to strengthen the options available for students to repay their loans by considering a loan pay-off or work-off program for careers beyond just public service and streamline the process in a fair and open fashion.
Over the last 10 years, we have seen the cost of college increase, but also the rise of administrative salaries. Many presidents earn more than $500,000 a year in salary and benefits, and some earn more than $1 million. We are working to make these costs more transparent so families can put pressure on colleges to lower costs.
We all agree that student loan rates should not continue to rise. I care about the future of our students and was happy when we were able to come together to avoid an interest rate spike and pass the Smarter Solutions for Students Act that strengthened federal student loan programs. However, in the last decade, the cost of higher education has doubled while stagnant employment numbers across the country are signaling a tough economy for recent graduates, made tougher by the looming debt that follows graduation. Monthly payments are more affordable if you are employed.
We need to put politics aside and work together to ensure our graduates can build the future they deserve. It’s not just about finding a job after graduation or getting our kids to a place where they can move out of their childhood bedrooms. It’s about setting our kids up for success–for the rest of their lives.
Don’t put up barriers to higher education (Robertson)
All across this district, I have heard heart-breaking stories from families affected by crippling student loan debt.
One man I met was still paying off his loans with his daughter in high school getting ready for college herself. A more recent graduate defaulted on her loans when she was laid off from her job, causing her rates to more than double. When I was young, it was possible to graduate debt free with scholarships and working through school–and that’s simply not possible for young people anymore.
College students today are virtually guaranteed to graduate with debt unless they come from a wealthy family. These young people face hard choices, and are likely to delay having a family, buying a home, or starting a business, holding back their potential.
For many high school students, the prospect of years of debt payments keeps them from pursuing higher education at all. Higher education is an important entry into the middle class for working families. We should be making college more accessible to all students, not putting up barriers to all but the wealthiest applicants.
Student loan debt is an enormous burden on more than our students. At an astonishing $1 trillion, this debt has the potential to damage our entire economy. This is an issue we must address.
Rep. Tom Reed has the wrong priorities when it comes to the student loan crisis. He actually voted to start charging students interest on their loans while they are still in school. He has failed to protect Pell grants–which are often the only affordable loans available to students–from cuts. Reed’s policies do not make college accessible to more student or encourage young people to follow their dreams.
These are the wrong priorities.
In 2013, faced with a doubling of student loan rates, Reed voted to tie federal loan rates to Treasury bills, pushing a bill that subjected students to the whims of the marketplace over the life of each loan. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported that the bill Reed voted for could more than double loan rates. I believe that working families and the middle class deserve the lowest interest rates available, with rates locked in in over the life of a loan, rather than fluctuating rates that Reed voted for.
Investing in our students is investing in the job creators and innovators of tomorrow. We need creative, independent solution to tackle the student loan crisis. I believe students should be able to refinance their loans to take advantage of lower rates, just as we can with mortgages and commercial loans. We absolutely should tie monthly payments to income. I would repeal the law that protects private loans from bankruptcy proceedings. These reforms are a message to our young people that we are investing in their success.
In Congress, I’ll approach the student loan debt crisis by finding solutions that put working people first, helping them to provide a better life for themselves and their families. My opponent, on the other hand, would rather let students drown in debt, and put college out of reach for all but the wealthiest families. I promise to be a voice for middle-class in Congress–not just the wealthy.
The above articles appeared in the Elmira Star-Gazette on September 28th.