The Times West Virginian


May 24, 2013

Student loan fix shouldn’t require huge political battle

College is a time when young men and women hit the books to prepare themselves to enter the workforce in their chosen profession.

College-level math and science and literature are tough courses.

But one subject in which today’s college graduates do face big worries is the debt that they take out into the “real world” upon receiving their diploma. The collegiate years mean dollars and cents start to add up over the course of four or more years.

Those who haven’t given the subject much thought in recent years would probably be surprised to know that the average debt for a West Virginia student today is $22,000. That figure may fluctuate some, depending upon the college or university. Students graduating from some of the more expensive private colleges may face a debt twice that high. Those getting diplomas from some of the smaller schools probably face a smaller debt.

But $22,000 is a sizeable chunk of money for most young people, and depending on how long it takes them to get a job, it may be quite a while before that bill is paid in full. When private loans are included, the figures increase to about $25,000 to $27,000.

What is really shocking is the debt compiled by many graduate students, a group that includes professional people such as doctors and lawyers. They often leave their programs with more than $100,000 in debt.

Fortunately, many colleges and universities offer professional counseling and financial-aid classes to graduating students. The total debt comes as a shock to many students, and universities are wise in preparing them for such a shock.

But there’s a showdown now in Washington, D.C., over student loan debt and, in particular, the interest rates that will accrue over the lifetime of the debt. On Thursday, the House passed a bill that would stop student loan interest rates from doubling on July 1 by tying rates to market trends and ending federal subsidies. It’s obviously a partisan bill, as it passed 221 to 198, and who knows what will happen when it comes to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where party leaders have voiced their opposition to the House bill.

Trying to fix a broken student loan system shouldn’t have to be a standoff. We’re not saying that either party’s platform on the issue is right. All we’re saying is that we, along with our readership and the rest of America, are tired of being the collateral damage in a war between Democrats and Republicans. We saw this happen with sequestration and the massive across-the-board budget cuts instead of a fine-tuned balanced budget.

Do kids who rely on student loans to pay for higher education need to suffer because no one seems capable of crossing the aisle and working together to fix what’s broken?

Young professionals trying to make it in the world will probably have to resort to their old college habits of eating soup from a can, counting quarters from couch cushions and taking on several roommates in order to make it in the world with massive debts and compiling interest as soon as they receive their diploma.

This is a time when graduates should be investing in 401Ks, buying cars and houses, starting families and helping to build back the American economy.

Put politics aside and make effective change for everyone’s sake.

Text Only
  • COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay

    Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.

    April 20, 2014

  • The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings

    During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.

    April 20, 2014

  • Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated

    Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
    During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.

    April 18, 2014

  • Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives

    A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
    Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
    The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.

    April 17, 2014

  • State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary

    Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
    For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
    Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.

    April 16, 2014

  • Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better

    When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
    So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.

    April 13, 2014

  • COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable

    That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
    But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
    Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!

    April 13, 2014

  • Decision to be an organ donor can save lives

    Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
    So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.

    April 11, 2014

  • Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community

    Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
    Marion County is full of volunteers.
    They read to our youth.
    They assist nonprofit agencies.
    They serve on boards and committees.
    And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.

    April 10, 2014

  • Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law

    West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.

    April 9, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads