Virginia has the sixth highest student load debt in the country, with the average student carrying $31,700 of debt upon graduation. Considering what students could be spending this money on, this is a very serious issue. Graduates could be jump starting the economy and giving the housing market a boost by using that money to put a down payment on their first homes. Or they could use that money instead to purchase fuel-efficient cars. Responsible graduates could also invest the money or put it aside to have a plan in case disaster strikes. The options for spending this money are almost limitless, but I can guarantee that no student would choose to graduate with such an enormous amount of debt. Rather, they feel like they have no choice.
We need to demand that our lawmakers ensure that students aren’t punished for bettering themselves, investing in education, and ultimately improving our economy by saddling them with a debt that is nearly impossible to pay in a reasonable amount of time. When $135 billion of student loan debt is owed by people over age fifty, we know there is a problem. This debt makes it difficult for graduates to start their careers and plan for their futures. Student loan reform is about more than helping students get the start they need; this is about taking the steps we need to get our economy back on the right track.
We must support Obama’s student loan proposal and demand that lawmakers extend the student loan interest rate cuts. Doubling the rates that students currently pay would be a disaster for an already slow-growing economy. This is the time to focus on creating jobs and not on holding middle-class Americans and our students hostage in a game of politics between hyper-partisan lawmakers in Washington.