Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Which side are you on? Helping the next generation or crushing them with debt?

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa in today's  Detroit News says Congress must do something soon to prevent subsidized student loan rates from doubling to 6.8 percent.

Hoffa points out that big banks borrow money from the government at 0.75 percent. College students pay 3.4 percent on their loans, but they'll pay 6.8 percent on July 1 unless Congress acts.

Writes Hoffa:
As many as 30 percent of borrowers may be delinquent on their student loan debt. More students are borrowing than ever before, and they’re borrowing more — the average loan has increased by 49 percent, to $24,803, since 2005. Today, the average student in this country graduates with $26,600 in loan debt. 
That’s hardly a way to get started in life when good jobs are scarcer than ever for recent college graduates. 
American labor unions believe strongly in supporting education for our next generation. That’s why the Teamsters started the James R. Hoffa Memorial Scholarship Fund, which has given more than $4.7 million to 1,500 children and grandchildren of its members since 2001.
But that won’t be nearly enough to alleviate the burden on our young people — a burden that will get worse on July 1 if Congress doesn’t act. 
Hoffa notes that Democrats in Congress want to freeze the interest rate at 3.4 percent. House Republicans passed a bill that would raise the interest rate on student loans.

There's a similar divide in Michigan, where Gov. Rick Snyder and Republicans in the Legislature cut higher education by 15 percent in the 2012 budget. Michigan Democrats, on the other hand, want to give high school students $10,000 toward their education if they attend a state university or community college.

Hoffa concludes:
In Washington and in Michigan, the choice is clear: Do our elected officials want to help the next generation by making sure they can have a quality, affordable education, or do they want to crush them under the weight of immense debt loads?
Good question.