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Like many other twentysomethings, I was watching the Daily Show the other night to see what news Jon Stewart and his crew were mocking/making sense of, and the middle segment hit a little close to home.

Obviously, this is meant to be a goof. Education is a wonderful thing, and encouraging people not to go to college because of high costs is an exaggeration for comedy. But behind the humor (and the wisdom that illustration may have been a bad degree program to pursue), The Daily Show nailed it – education is too expensive, and the costs are only going to go up.

Last year, Congress decided to keep interest rates on Stafford Loans and other student loans locked in around 3.4% - but like everything else Congress seems to do these days, this was only a temporary fix. The fight is going to start again in July, when the student loan rates are set to double to 6.8%. College is already far too pricey for many to attend, and this double in interest rates will put a higher education even farther out of reach for thousands of students and their families.

Thankfully, a progressive former professor got elected to the Senate this year, and wants to do something about this. For her first standalone bill in the Senate, Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced the Bank on Student Loans Fairness Act – a law designed to lower interest rates on student loans and make it easier for working class families and students to attend college. Check out this segment below:

She makes a great point when she says that “We the taxpayers make an investment in our financial institutions. Can’t we make the same investment in students who are trying to get an education?”

I’ve talked before about how expensive it is to go to college, and the ramifications of student loans going forward - the consequences of a poor rising working class. And this bill would make a huge step towards making college more affordable for thousands more students, and make a significant investment in the middle class. We just need to get it passed.

Senator Warren is right on the money when she says “If the federal reserve can float trillions of dollars to large financial institutions for low interest rates to grow the economy, surely they can float the Department of Education the money to fund our students, keep us competitive, and grow our middle class.”

I encourage you to sign on to the Campaign for America's Future and Daily Kos's petition to support Elizabeth Warren's bill here. Investing in our students, rather than our banks, and helping ambitious students – the scientists, teachers, writers, doctors, engineers and workers of tomorrow – get the training they need to compete, is a step towards a stronger middle class and a stronger economy.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Student debt is a bubble (0+ / 0-)

    Lowering interest rates will only blow the bubble larger, faster. Figuring out ways to make debt easier to acquire and more attractive doesnt do anyone any favors.

    •  Except for those people who are going to go to (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dodgerdog1, ubertar

      college and get loans - you know, people in the real world.  

      •  Nah (0+ / 0-)

        People in the real world are rapidly realizing that its easy to take on a ton of loan debt, and its difficult to convert that debt (via an in-demand degree) into a job that pays back that debt.

        The problem is not that its expensive to borrow money, the problem is that people are having to borrow a ton of money.

        Alll Elizabeth Warren is looking to do is lower the cost of borrowing money.

        We should be having a conversation about why students are needing to borrow 30-40-50-100K for an education, not what at interest rate they are borrowing that 30-40-50-100K.

        •  We can have both conversations (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          viral, ubertar

          But fixing the higher education funding problem is a lot more complex and will take a lot more time.  

          The fact of the matter is that banks should not be price gouging students and saddling them with debt and high interest rates.  This is a problem Congress could fix tomorrow if it were so inclined.  

          •  As long as we end up having (0+ / 0-)

            both conversations. The problem here, though, is that the lowering of student loan rates is seen as the primary/only/preferred way of making college "affordable again."

            As, respectfully, with the health care debate, passing something- even something well-intentioned- has the effect in our government of quietening any further, needed discourse.

            So of course Sen. Warren's idea is a great one; however, folks with tens of thousands of dollars in debt are going to be in debt purgatory for decades whether the interest rate is .75% or 6.8%.

            The real solution is to remove the debt entirely through a jubilee and fully subsidize higher education with public funds- and that conversation is nowhere near getting started.

        •  Exactly. (0+ / 0-)
          The problem is not that its expensive to borrow money, the problem is that people are having to borrow a ton of money.
          The cost of college has exploded, and the student loan crisis is mostly a matter of students burdened by large loans, not loans with unreasonable terms.

          There is also a matter of borrower education, and borrowing behavior that makes our students easy targets for predatory lenders; but even if everyone is fully informed and careful, they're still going to borrow far too much money to meet the cost of college, which is far too high.

          Taking jokes seriously is the exact mirror activity of laughing if someone says they have cancer. --jbou

          by Caj on Tue May 14, 2013 at 08:26:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  also note that the rates for grad students (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    are double the rate for undergrads. Our daughter is paying 6.8% interest for a Stafford loan because she's a grad student and the interest starts accruing the day she gets the money (which goes right to the university to pay tuition).
    So by the time she gets out of her program, she'll owe at least $5,000 more than she borrowed because of accrued interest.
    And it's not like she's going into a lucrative profession (social work/community organizing).
    The silver lining is that because it's a federal loan, they will cap her monthly payments based on her income and if she works in an approved public service job, she will get loan forgiveness after a certain number of years (10? I can't remember). The hitch is that it has to be "approved." She's unlikely to work in anything but public service, however she's alternative enough that it might not be an approved version of the work.

    While Democrats work to get more people to vote, Republicans work to ensure those votes won't count.

    by Tamar on Mon May 13, 2013 at 10:35:39 AM PDT

    •  Pretty sure the loan forgiveness (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      for "public service" would come after ten years of regular payments, including those made under income-sensitive plans. Yes, your daughter would want to ensure that the place she's working meets the criteria for non-profit, public, etc. The public university system I work for in CA does but I would agree with you that a smaller employer, perhaps one that doesn't so thoroughly keep track of its statuses, might not qualify.

      She'll also want to keep track of her payment, because after 25 years of on-time payments, the balance of the loan can be "forgiven." Of course, the "forgiven" amount- which by then will exceed the original principal due to the decades of interest- will be considered taxable income, so there'll be a gigantic tax hit that year.

  •  There should be a limit to student debt (0+ / 0-)

    Here is the deal -

    There are people with 90K in student debt who-

    1) Went to an out of state school instead of in-state to pay cheaper tuition

    2) fully financed their ride- room, board, etc. and did not work while attending college

    3) All the while spending to go to spring break, etc.

    Not saying its everyone - but our student loans should help people access their education and not let them run up debt when there are alternatives.

    Scissors cut paper/Paper covers rock/Rock crushes lizard/Lizard poisons Spock/Spock smashes scissors/Scissors decapitate lizard/Lizard eats paper/Paper disproves Spock/Rock breaks scissors/Spock vaporizes rock

    by jgkojak on Mon May 13, 2013 at 11:15:40 AM PDT

  •  Check out (0+ / 0-)

    joinStampede, "the world's first campaign to unite people with student debt."

    Guns don't kill people but there's always one there at the time of death.

    by john07801 on Mon May 13, 2013 at 03:17:14 PM PDT

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