Ann Blegen’s May 10 op-ed “A good college fit,” about how student loan debt figured so prominently in her college decision, moved me to tears for two reasons.
First, as a parent of a high school junior, we are just beginning these conversations, coming to grips with the personal task of defining value relative to cost in higher education for our family.
But more important, as a public interest advocate, I am angry that higher education in our state and country has become the playground for cynical members of Congress and financial institutions looking to profit on the backs of students.
College seniors now graduate carrying, on average, $27,000 in loans. Meanwhile, a proposal is pending in Congress that could double the interest rates on loans for the lowest-income borrowers from 3.4 to 6.8 percent. Banks get a lower interest rate when they borrow from the federal government than students pursuing higher education.
Senator Elizabeth Warren just introduced a bill that would require the federal government to charge student borrowers the same low rate they are charging banks. This is one of many reforms needed to get back to the ideal that access to higher education is fundamental to our democracy.