SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

June 11, 2014

Letter: Political ploys and student loans

To the editor:

It’s nice to see that Congressman John Tierney and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are taking such an interest in student loan debt, but their efforts ring hollow. John Tierney has had more than a decade-and-a-half in the House to tackle this issue, and he hasn’t spoken up until now — six months before a difficult election in which he faces an unprecedented number of primary challengers. Sen. Warren, while spending a long time talking about the issue, is guilty of hypocrisy. She took nearly $300,000 for teaching a single hour-long class at Harvard. The students she purports to care about are the same ones who took on burdensome loans to pay her inflated salary.

More importantly, the proposed bill doesn’t tackle the real problem — reducing interest rates on some student loans won’t change the fact that students have to take on enormous debt in the first place in order to pay the inflated cost of higher education. Higher education tuitions and fees are the only cost index increasing on a national level faster than healthcare. Let that sink in for a moment.

Rising healthcare costs have been at the front and center of the largest political battle of the last five years, but the cost of higher education has been exploding even more rapidly.

Student debt has only now become a political issue, when Tierney needs the votes of young people to shore up waning support for his re-election. I, for one, am not fooled by this political ploy. I’ve watched as my friends and I take on massive debts to have a chance at a bright future by paying the inflated costs of an industry with no incentive to change its ways. I’ve watched the national total of student loan debt skyrocket to today’s $1.2 trillion. And I’ve watched John Tierney stand by for 17 years and do nothing, while leeches like Warren actively make the situation worse.

It’s not just time for a solution — it’s past time, and Tierney and Warren’s proposed solution is too little, too late. We don’t just need lower interest rates; we need lower costs. Many schools now charge $50,000 a year, and lowering interest rates for the few covered in their bill won’t change the fact that students still have to shell out $200,000 for a four-year degree.

Joanne Frangias

Peabody

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