Friday, April 27, 2012

Hit the Road, Boehner

Our latest Republican-versus-Democrat kerfuffle has got me riled
again. And this time I've had enough. Again.

President Obama came to Boulder this week to push for continued
reduction of the interest rate on student loans. The Republicans (John
Boehner) said they support that, but that the money to pay for the
subsidy should come from a "slush fund" of the Obama Health Care bill,
as he calls the Affordable Health Care Act.

The fund in question also has a name. It's called the Prevention and
Health Fund. It goes for women's health care, such as mammograms,
screening, and preventive care.

What the hell?

I agree with college prof Jerry Lanson, who says, "The challenge of easing
the debt burden can't be left to colleges or the taxpayers. At a time when banks are
giving their customers savings interest worth nickels and dimes, there's no
excuse for them to be raking in interest above the national inflation

We just bailed out the banks. They don't deserve any more of our money.

Furthermore, I don't think we should be giving students big loans
(regardless of interest rate, unless it's zero) when they haven't yet
earned a credit rating. To get a credit rating, you need to get a small loan and/or pay off a credit bill in a time. It shows you are a responsible borrower.

Originally the banks were given a blank check. Students could borrow
ever-larger amounts needed because college rates were skyrocketing, and if
they defaulted, say, by declaring bankruptcy, the government would
back the loans.

Understandably, that didn't work, so the laws for bankruptcy were
tightened. So now students are caught between a rock and a hard
place. They face paying off their loans for their whole working life.

Sure, it seems worth borrowing money to get a college education. It
has been shown that a college-educated worker earns much more over his
or her lifetime than someone with only a high school diploma.

But hundreds of thousands of dollars? When I went to college, I was
dirt poor, my single mother lived below the poverty level, and I
couldn't get credit from Sears to buy a portable typewriter. (I
boycotted Sears and Discover for many years for this reason.)

I still managed to get a college education. I worked, I got
scholarships, I got grants, and I got a loan. That loan was the
National Student Defense Loan. It had a very low interest rate, and
within five years, I was able to pay it off.

The truth is, the government has been backing away for a long time
from both higher education and health care. The University of Colorado
only gets 5% of its budget from the state. A lot of people think
higher education is an entitlement, like health care, and that you
should be able to go to school as high as you can go.

Unfortunately, our government does not agree with this. Our taxpayers
don't want to foot the bill. So, we are falling behind the rest of the
world in terms of well educated, well paid workers.

It has been easy to spot this trend, so when I had a child, I began
saving money so she could go to college. We paid for her education in
full. No free ride. No entitlement.

I know the days are gone where a student can work during the summer
and pay for a year's tuition. But the motivated student needs to suss
out a plan for getting a higher education. If you can't get into
Harvard, move your sights down. If you can't get into the University
of Michigan, move your sights down. By living at home or getting a
roommate and going to a community college for two years, you can cut
college costs in half. Working at Victoria's Secret is crappy, but
finite. Once you actually get a degree and a good job, nobody cares
where you went to college anyway.

It's time to cut off the banks from this cash cow, and it's time to
stop trying to rob Peter (us women) to pay Paul.

Hit the road, Jack.

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