Stu­dents Tell San­ders How Col­lege Loans Im­pact Fam­i­lies and Ca­reers

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS - Wash­ing­ton, DC

Re­spond­ing to more than 700 emails from col­lege stu­dents and grad­u­ates in Ver­mont and around the na­tion, Sen. Bernie San­ders (I-Vt.) called to­day for restor­ing stu­dent the loan in­ter­est rate to the level that was charged be­fore the rate dou­bled on July 1 to 6.8 per­cent.

“We have a ma­jor cri­sis in our coun­try to­day in terms of the high cost of col­lege and the in­cred­i­ble debt bur­den that col­lege stu­dents and their fam­i­lies are fac­ing,” San­ders said in a Se­nate floor speech. “Our job is to im­prove that sit­u­a­tion, to lessen the bur­den on stu­dents and their fam­i­lies – not to make it worse.”

San­ders read from some of the emails he re­ceived about how stu­dent loans have af­fected peo­ple’s ca­reers and fam­i­lies.

Emily Decker from Colch­ester, Vt., told the se­na­tor that “watch­ing the in­ter­est eat away my sav­ings ev­ery month is hard to swal­low … This is putting our plans for hav­ing a fam­ily on hold be­cause we want to have our fi­nances in bet­ter or­der be­fore do­ing so.”

An­drea Craft from Burlington, Vt., is a 25-year-old, full-time col­lege stu­dent at Cham­plain Col­lege. “I am a sin­gle mother. I am al­ready $20,000 in debt and I still have one more year to go be­fore I grad­u­ate … I of­ten feel like I am not ever go­ing to be able to ‘get ahead’ and ‘make it’ in spite of my ad­van­tages.”

Al­li­son LaFlamme of John­son, Vt., said her credit is good but she couldn’t take ad­van­tage of lower home mort­gage rates be­cause col­lege loans pushed up her debt-toin­come ra­tio.

Melissa We­ber from Rut­land, Vt., wrote: “I have found my­self strug­gling to sur­vive in­de­pen­dently as a 25-year-old with a mas­ter’s de­gree. Yes, I have achieved a de­gree, of which I am proud, but I have also ac­cu­mu­lated an im­mense amount of debt that will likely haunt me for the ma­jor­ity of my life. As a re­sult of my daunt­ing loan pay­ments I find my­self barely sur­viv­ing on an in­come that should eas­ily sup­port a small fam­ily.”

“My wife and I both have $50K-$60K of loan debt each. We both have good jobs, but a large per­cent­age of our in­come is used to pay back stu­dent loans ... The ed­u­ca­tion process should be re­ward­ing and cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties. For my wife and me, it did the op­po­site,” wrote Evan Cham­pagne from St. Al­bans, Vt.

San­ders said the emails he re­ceived are typ­i­cal of young peo­ple who grad­u­ate from col­lege sad­dled with in­cred­i­ble debt. In Amer­ica to­day, the aver­age debt for a col­lege grad­u­ate is $27,200. For those who go to grad­u­ate school, med­i­cal school or den­tal school that debt can be higher.

The cu­mu­la­tive higher-ed­u­ca­tion debt bur­den in the United States is $1.1 tril­lion, more than the en­tire credit card debt owed by Amer­i­cans. The Fed­eral Re­serve and the Depart­ment of the Trea­sury have both is­sued warn­ings that high lev­els of stu­dent loan debt could drive down con­sumer de­mand and have a neg­a­tive im­pact eco­nomic growth.

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