We’ve got a two-part problem here:
- Student debt that burdens recent college graduates, as well as those who will graduate this spring and in years to come.
- Sky-high and still rising college costs. That includes tuition, fees, room and board.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren and two dozen other senators are taking the lead on the debt part of the equation. Sen. Warren and others introduced yesterday the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, a bill that would allow borrowers to refinance student loans to a lower interest rate. This bill, if it passes, will not solve the student debt crisis, but it would be a start.
As long as the cost of going to college remains prohibitively high, we’re constantly creating more student debt.
Maryland’s three gubernatorial candidates have all addressed the issue, but feebly. Simply slowing the rate of increase in the cost of college is not exactly a solution. As long as college costs are high, the debt problem will keep getting worse.
Seems to me the real answer is something more radical. Like start reducing the cost of tuition, or providing much more means-based student aid.
You want a really radical idea? Free college tuition. It’s been done before. It should be tried again. We could start on a limited basis, for instance free tuition at Maryland community colleges for any student graduating in the top 25 percent of any high school class in Maryland. That’s just one possibility to illustrate the concept. The fundamental idea is, we’ve got to make college affordable again for middle-class and working-class students.
Otherwise, more and more students are going to pass on college because it’s just too expensive. That decision might limit them for the rest of their lives, and it will definitely inhibit the growth and competitiveness of the American economy. Not everyone needs to or wants to go to college. But everyone who has the ability and the desire to do college work should have the opportunity.
Just my opinions.
— John Hayden