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Student debt is a drag on economic recovery

 US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke about student loan interest rates in a press conference in Washington in April.

SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke about student loan interest rates in a press conference in Washington in April.

The steep drop in homeownership among 25- to-34-year-olds is even more proof of the far-reaching consequences of student debt (“Young putting homes on hold,” Page A1, June 10). Not only does this debt hurt those struggling to pay for their own higher education, but it is putting a drag on the housing market and our overall economic recovery.

For average recent college graduates, student loan debt can consume nearly 20 percent of the borrower’s income that typically should be reserved for paying down debt. This prevents them from paying down other borrowed money, and severely restricts their ability to purchase a home, a car, and other products associated with starting a household. In short, student debt impedes the consumer spending that fuels the US economy.

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The debate in Congress over how to extend low student loan interest rates for current and future students won’t help the 37 million Americans who already have student loan debt. In fact, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York estimates that more than 5 million Americans are past due on their payments.

If this presidential election is about the economy, then it needs to focus on pragmatic solutions. Otherwise, our economic recovery may stall out before it even begins.

Paul Combe

President and CEO

American Student Assistance

Boston

CORRECTION: Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this letter incorrectly described which part of a typical borrower’s income is consumed by student debt.

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