Reed and Robertson on Student Loans

student-loan-debtStudents and their families have difficult decisions to make when balancing what they can afford with the quality of education they are seeking.–Tom Reed

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.


About whungerford

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17 Responses to Reed and Robertson on Student Loans

  1. Deb Meeker says:

    Tom Reed blames professors and the jobless for high student loan interest and possible default of student loans? Reed graduated law school in 1996, but still owes on the loans, after having had an annual salary of $174,000.00 a year for the last four years. What’s his excuse? Other than that his words are empty in this piece.

    It has been said that student loan debt in the US is only second to mortgage debt.

    Martha Robertson has it right when she calls the current student loan situation a crisis.
    I agree with her plans to:
    Lower, locked in interest rates
    Payment ability tied to income
    Student loan refinancing for lower interest rates( as with mortgage loans)
    Allowing student loan ( at least in part) to be considered regular debt in bankruptcy


  2. Anne says:

    My daughter, like most of the people in her situation, is heavily financing her law school education through loans–and trying to keep up with paying off the interest while in school, as it began accruing from the moment she signed for the money. Because she plans to work in public service law, the remaining amount of debt she carries will be erased after 10 years in the field, as long as she has kept up her payments on time for those ten years. By then, the debt (we calculate) will have been reduced by nearly 70%….public defenders start at salaries, in general, roughly equivalent to what early-career teachers make. Were she to go into big law, her starting salary would be $160K and at that level, she would be able to pay back her loans in their entirety within a handful of years. All of which makes me wonder why Reed *still* owes money on his school loans–it sounds to me like he’s gaming the system for his own benefit, while trying to stack the decks in that system against all comers.


  3. BOB McGILL says:

    it is common sense to pay off low intrest loans last


  4. BOB McGILL says:

    Reed forgot to mention that most colleges are sitting on billions–
    Rising to today’s challenges while elevating education for generations to come, “ Cornell Now” has recently surpassed its goal of raising $4.75 billion in private support for the Ithaca campus and Weill Cornell Medical College by the university’s sesquicentennial in 2015.


  5. BOB McGILL says:
    Dec 17, 2013 … Harvard has the nation’s largest endowment at $32.7 billion, and Faust is reluctant to tie the hands of its portfolio managers. But eight smaller …
    Yale, which holds the nation’s second-largest endowment at $20.8 billion,


  6. BOB McGILL says:

    My friend has 3 kids, 2 boys and a girl. The oldest just turned 30. The girl went to Harvard, for free by the way.The boys did not go to college and are both self made millionaires 🙂


  7. whungerford says:

    Bob, do you have an opinion on the student loan crisis? Are subsidized loans needed? Should college be free to all; can everyone who doesn’t go to college expect to be a millionaire?


  8. Anne says:

    Free college is a terrific idea, and I think one whose time has come. I also think the idea of expanding loan forgiveness is a viable one, and maybe one that can be put into place even sooner. For the life of me, I can’t understand why no one has re-instituted some of the WPA programs that were so successful, and the fruits of which we still enjoy today (the buildings, the art, writing, photography and music projects, the stone trail, even, that I used to climb through the gorge on my way to classes back in college–there’s hardly an end to it). Because there is so much need out there, and so much untapped talent out there, creating new programs to bring the two together seems like the perfect way to solve both problems, along with the problem of un- or underemployment.


  9. BOB McGILL says:

    you can’t fix stupid with college, some people are not cut out for college and they should not be able to attend if they will never make it anyway.
    Why don’t you try to find out how many people with student loans dropped out or flunked out. Then find out how many were froced to go to college by their parents and never wanted to go in the first place.
    My wife was the first to say that all anybody ever did at Brockport for 4 years was drink smoke pot and raise hell.


  10. BOB McGILL says:

    the WPA was a welfare program, but the do-gooders won’t allow that type of program anymore.


  11. BOB McGILL says:…/college-dropout-rate-called-national-crisis-in-new-report/‎CachedSimilar
    Jan 24, 2013 … A new report on the college dropout rate featured depressing statistics: — 46% of
    those who enter a U.S. college fail to graduate within six ……/us-attn-andrea-education-dropouts- idUSBRE82Q0Y120120327‎CachedSimilar
    Mar 27, 2012 … The United States has the highest dropout rate in the industrialized world,
    according to a Harvard analysis of data from the Organization for …‎CachedSimilar
    This list of college-dropout billionaires is based (where not otherwise noted) on
    an annual ranking of the world’s wealthiest people compiled and published by


  12. BOB McGILL says:


    Cheating to Pass or Cheating to Get Ahead?
    The number of students admitting to cheating has increased significantly over the last 60 years, and students aren’t just cheating to pass, they’re cheating to get ahead.

    According to a survey by the Josephson Institute of Ethics of 12,000 high school students, 74% admitted to cheating on an exam at some point during the past year to get ahead (

    Michael Josephson, the president of the Josephson Institute of Ethics mentioned that students these days are more willing to cheat, and parents, teachers and other authoritative figures are having a difficult time reversing the trend.

    These results paint a grim picture of today’s youth, and it makes many wonder whether the students who are willing to cheat are willing to commit other unethical deeds to get ahead in life.

    Cheating Isn’t Limited to Students
    Of course, students aren’t the only ones who are cheating nowadays. Teachers and administrators have also been caught plumping grades and most recently, cheating on standardized tests required by the No Child Left Behind Law.

    According to the San Francisco Chronicle, 123 public schools in California have been caught cheating on No Child tests in the last three years. Approximately two-thirds of the schools admitted to cheating when questioned about their test results.


  13. BOB McGILL says:

    75 to 98 Percent of College Students Have Cheated
    Jun 29, 2011

    Back in 1940, only 20 percent of college students admitted to cheating during their academic careers. Today, that number has increased to a range of 75%-98%.

    from the same source


  14. BOB McGILL says:‎Cached
    It can take many forms, including sharing another’s work, purchasing a term … In
    the past it was the struggling student who was more likely to cheat just to get by.
    Today it is also the above-average college bound students who are cheating.


  15. solodm says:

    Back in the eighties when Tom Reed took out his loans the interest rate for federal loans was around 8.5%. That’s not exactly what I would call “low interest.”


  16. whungerford says:

    Tom likely does have subsidized, low-interest student loans. At the time he qualified.

    Bob is right–a low interest loan is financially a good thing. But now that Tom is wealthy and worried about government debt, it is unseemly to be milking his loan for all it is worth. That’s Tom–his spokesperson explained in another context that if the law allows it, Tom isn’t embarrassed to take advantage.


  17. BOB McGILL says:

    Report Says 75 Percent of Young Americans Unfit for Military Service
    Published November 05, 2009 • APFacebook0 Twitter4 livefyre0 Email Print WASHINGTON — It’s tough enough selling military service to teen-agers who might not be so keen on getting their heads shaved or buy the whole “we do more by 9 a.m.” line. And the fact that enlisting today could very well mean a visit to the front lines doesn’t help, either.

    But according to a new report, there are other factors that make recruiters’ jobs even more difficult: the country’s poor education system and the worsening obesity crisis.

    About 75 percent of the country’s 17- to 24-year-olds are ineligible for military service, largely because they are poorly educated, overweight and have physical ailments that make them unfit for the armed forces, according to a report issued Thursday.

    Other factors, such as drug use, criminal records and mental problems, contribute to what military leaders say is a major problem that threatens the country’s ability to defend itself at a time when the all-volunteer force is already strained fighting two wars.

    To combat the problem, a group of retired military leaders has joined Education Secretary Arne Duncan to call for greater investment in early education, which advocates say helps boost academic achievement and social development.

    “We are very concerned,” said retired Army Maj. Gen. James Kelley, a member of Mission: Readiness, the Washington-based nonprofit organization that issued the report. “We do have the greatest military in the world [–] we have the greatest planes, the greatest tanks, the greatest ships [–] but the key goal is having great people. Right now, we’re attracting very highly qualified folks but that could change over time.”

    The report, “Ready, Willing and Unable to Serve,” comes after the military had one of its best recruiting years since the draft ended in 1973. During the budget year that ended Sept. 30, the military met all of its recruiting goals and had a higher quality of recruit than in years past. About 95 percent of all Army recruits had a high school diploma, up from 83 percent the year before.

    Military officials say their recent success is due to increased spending on recruiting and bonuses, which in the Army went from an average of less than $8,000 in 2000 to more than $18,000 in 2008. A dismal economy, which drove up civilian unemployment, helped fill the ranks as well. But in its report, the group warns that “a weak economy is no formula for a strong military. Once the economy begins to grow again, the challenge of finding enough high-quality recruits will return.”

    One of the main reason recruits don’t qualify for the service is inadequate education. One in four between the ages of 17 and 24 does not have a high school diploma, according to the report. And many who do still fail the military’s version of the SAT, known as the Armed Forces Qualification Test.

    Asthma, eyesight and hearing problems are also factors. But about a third of all potential recruits can’t join is because they’re too fat and out of shape.

    “When you get kids who can’t do push-ups, pull-ups or run, this is a fundamental problem not just for the military but for the country,” said Curtis Gilroy, the Pentagon’s director of accessions policy. Many kids are not “taking physical education in school; they’re more interested in sedentary activities such as the computer or television. And we have a fast-food mentality in this country.”

    Recruiters, then, become part-time tutors and coaches, helping with homework and whipping kids into shape. Some even hold after-school workouts, where teen-agers prepare for basic training. To pass an Army physical fitness test, an 18-year-old male must do 42 push-ups in two minutes, 53 sit-ups in two minutes and run two miles in 15 minutes 54 seconds.

    Earlier this year, the National Guard opened a “Patriot Academy” in Indiana, which helps high school dropouts earn a high school diploma after graduating from basic training. In Maryland, the majority of Guard recruiters are also certified substitute teachers, helping recruits with their homework, said Sgt. Maj. Anthony Weeks.

    “We’ll go work out at the gym with them to get them in shape,” Weeks said.
    But that’s become increasingly challenging. Nationwide, more than one in four adults is classified as obese by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Mission: Readiness, which comprises 89 retired military leaders including two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is pushing Congress to pass the Obama administration’s Early Learning Challenge Fund, a program that would grant states $1 billion annually for 10 years for early childhood development programs.

    Educators say preschool programs are one of the best ways to ensure academic success later in life. Military officials think they’re one of the best ways to ensure the country has a large pool of people who will be savvy enough to fly helicopters, drive tanks and gather intelligence.

    “You can’t wait until high school in order to change a young person,” said Kelley, the retired major general. “It has to be done at a very early age, and that’s why the need for high quality early learning is so vital.”

    an updated report was on the news today 10/4/2014


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