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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

October 8, 2008 at 1:59 PM

Indentured graduates

College far from easy

As a current college student carrying some of the same burdens that were pointed out in your article “Young, educated, drowning in debt” [page one, Oct. 5], it was somewhat comforting to know there are other students struggling financially.

Finances should not play a leading role in determining ones future, and should not hold anyone back from reaching his or her full potential.

Let’s not forget about other expenses such as health care, food and rent. Students today have too much to worry about, when the only thing that should be of any concern is getting an education.

I thank you for pointing out how tough it is today for college students. Instead of dreaming of buying a house one day, many students can only dream of the day when their student loans are paid in full.

When my parents finished college, they were able to settle in a small house. My mother was even able to stay home with my sister and me when we were young.

It’s a shame that we have reached this point.

What are the best options available for students right now? There may not be one solution, but there may be ways of lessening the tremendous load we students carry, and I’m sure a lot of college students or college graduates would find any information you can provide very helpful. What can we all do to change the way education operates? What are some helpful tips on budgeting?

— Kimberly Kish, Seattle

Student loans vs. work

Before retiring, for 45 years I operated a small Seattle manufacturing company.

In the 1960s and 1970s, every summer we employed three to four part-time college students. Some of them started to look for summer jobs as early as January. Since the end of the 1980s, we have received not a single application for summer work.

It is very likely that availability of student loans changed a useful tradition.

— Vigo Rauda, Seattle

Colleges have a spending problem

The student-loan industry lies at a crossroads. Sinking profits from weakening credit and securities markets have led many major, private student-loan lenders to be more judicious with their resources. This has shifted a greater burden onto public lenders like Sallie Mae, which is already overburdened with existing federally backed loans.

While the cost of attending college is undoubtedly high, and students are suffering a growing debt burden, the student-loan “crisis” may not be the catastrophe the industry is portraying.

The real cause of the growing cost of education is the growing addiction to spending in colleges nationwide. Higher education has a spending problem, and it is trying pass its own excesses on to the government and taxpayers.

The need for a bailout of student-loan companies may be overstated, despite the recent difficulties. Total borrowing through private student-loan companies grew by almost 900 percent over the past 10 years.

It is easy to attempt to solve a problem by throwing more money at it, but rarely is that the right solution.

Unfortunately, the government is taking just that approach: Under a new federal loan-stabilization program, the Department of Education has sent new funding to Sallie Mae in the form of a loan to provide up to $20 billion in new government-backed loans this year.

— Matthew Glans, legislative specialist for The Heartland Institute, Chicago

Comments | More in Economy, Education

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