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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

July 3, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Education costs continue to increase

A new system of student loans is needed

The level of student-loan debt is crippling the generation of Americans that is emerging into adulthood. [“Editorial: Congress must rein in student-loan rates,” Opinion, July 2.]

The burden of this debt goes beyond the individual. It has consequences for the future of the country and its economic health. The housing market is in more jeopardy, as young adults do not have the means to purchase a first home, which has implications for those trying to sell their first home to move up to a second home. A bottleneck forms, which impacts the entire housing market negatively. This is but one consequence of this debt.

The rising load of credit-card debt is exacerbated because of the lack of ready cash to pay for day-to-day living. Congress just doubled the interest rate on student-loan debt from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. This is not an answer to the problem.

What if there were another way to fund higher education? Instead of paying in to Social Security over the course of your working life and taking it out at retirement, what if those funds were available to be prepaid? Social Security money could be paid out up front to fund a college education. The graduate would pay it back over the course of their career, paying interest along the way to Social Security. At retirement, they could have the amount of principle and interest of their prepayment deducted from their payout.

The Social Security Administration would get the benefit of the interest payment, thereby adding to its coffers, and students coming out of college would have more available income. There’s the germ of a really good idea here.

Irene Wilson, Bainbridge Island

Congress needs to act

Last week, Congress let down students, families and the economy when it failed to prevent the interest rate on subsidized Stafford student loans from doubling.

Congress was blocked in its attempts to prevent the increase by legislators who insisted on charging students more for their loans as a way to lower the deficit. As a result, the rate on these loans doubled to 6.8 percent on July 1.

This increase will cost more than 100,000 student borrowers in Washington an additional $919 on each loan they take out.

This failure will not only affect student borrowers, it will also harm the economy.

Fortunately, Congress can still act this summer to pass a retroactive extension, before colleges issue student-loan packages in August and September.

I urge Congress to protect students and the economy by acting quickly to reverse this rate increase.

Micaela Preskill, Seattle

University costs are out of control

In Danny Westneat’s column, he stated that the public contribution toward student tuition at the University of Washington has decreased from 90 percent of the tuition load in 1981 to 30 percent in 2013. [“Yes, we paid tuition with summer job,” NW Sunday, June 23.]

He also wrote that tuition has increased from $687 annually in 1981 to $12,500 annually today. He bemoaned the “fact” that the lack of an appropriate public contribution has “starved” the university system.

Before making that judgment, it would have made sense to examine how fast tuition has increased compared with how fast the public contribution has increased.

Using his numbers and numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the last 31 years: UW tuition has increased over 18 times, the cost of living has increased 2.6 times, and the public contribution to tuition has increased more than six times.

Thus, the public contribution to tuition has increased faster than the cost of living since 1981, while the UW annual tuition has increased faster than either.

I agree that the public should pay a lot more in order to keep the price of tuition more affordable. I believe it is critically important to keep a college education reasonably affordable. But it is difficult to ask for additional public assistance when it appears that the increase in university costs are out of control.

John Orose, West Seattle

Comments | More in Education | Topics: college, debt, loans

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