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One of the top issues on the American political and economic scene today is the possible doubling of student loan interest rates set for July 1 if nothing is done. Obama has rightfully made it his top priority to stop.
Education is supposed to be the foundation of this country, yet it appears that the politicians, especially the GOP, could care less. As long as the rich get theirs who cares about middle America.
For those of us who have paid bills, who have gotten loans, who have sent kids to college or have them there now, this is a huge deal. This is gigantic. This will prevent a lot of kids from going to college.
You would think that this would be a no brainer, that politicians would be trying to find ways to make it easier for everyone to go to college or trade school, because this is the only way America is going to grow. The more educated this country is the faster it will grow, and the better lives for us all will be.
Yet the GOP is saying it adds to the deficit. I’m so sick of hearing about the deficit. Who caused the deficit in the first place? They weren’t concerned about the deficit when George Bush was in office and the Senate and House was controlled by the GOP. The deficit grew, and grew, and grew. And when the country fell into the depression—sorry, recession—it wasn’t because of the deficit.
So why the big deal now?
All of us who have purchased homes from $50,000 to $250,000, know what a difference a 4.9 or 5.9 loan is compared to a 10 or 12 percent.
Those of us who have purchased cars from $10,000 to $30,000 know the difference in payments based on zero percent financing compared to 5 or 10 percent. The better the credit rating the lower the rates, the higher the interest the higher the monthly payments.
So how does that relate to student loans? Well most student loans range from $20,000 to $50,000, and are generally not due until graduation. However, what happens if you don’t find a job right away, or you get a low paying job which most people do right out of college. Now you have rent, a car payment, utilities, food, clothes, and a $200 to $500 a month college loan, which is growing bigger and bigger the longer you take to pay it off because of the interest. In some cases doubling the interest rate will double monthly payment or increase it substantially.
Most students receive scholarships, and grants, but rarely, especially for the average student, does this cover the cost, so the students must get loans. The government, state and federal and the schools have some loans, but once again generally not enough. Once you expire them you are on your own, which means the parents have to co-sign for the extra student loan. Well if the students don’t have parents willing to do this or can’t do it, or parents with bad credit, like many low and moderate income families, they can’t get the loan. Most students get outside jobs, but in most cases these are minimum wage or near minimum wage jobs, which means a very limited income. Add this to the increasing cost of higher education and you should be able to understand the importance of keeping the interest rates of student loans where they are. Actually we should be trying to lower them, instead of increasing them.
I ask the GOP and others who are doing nothing to block the increase or are in support of it, how much is this really going to affect the budget? Couldn’t we be cutting back some of the massive military spending.
Every penny we cut from educating our kids, from pre-school to college, is costing us dearly, far more than we are spending. It’s time we stop penny pinching when it comes to education, especially when they can find money for the military and all their other pet projects.
Education is a right not a privilege, everyone should have equal opportunity for it, but now education is not just K through 12, but college, because there are fewer jobs anymore for those who don’t either have a college degree or a trade degree.
At one time the doors for Blacks and middle income families were opening during the 1990s and early 2000s but now if the current trend continues of rising college costs, drastic cuts in education at every level and now the doubling of the interest rates, education will be out of reach for most of these students once again. This leads to poverty, crime, violence and overall community decay, leading to millions being spent on prisons, social programs and law enforcement.
We all need to impress upon all of our lawmakers that if they don’t do something to stop the interest increase we are going to vote against them. There is no compromise on this issue. This is without a doubt one of the top issues in this country right now, if not number one. If it becomes reality it will have a devastating effect on the country, especially the Black community.
(Ulish Carter is managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
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