Education beyond high school is important for success in today’s world. For many people in the 21st Congressional District, education means hope for a better life. That education can be at a traditional four-year college, two-year community college, or trade school. Regardless of the choice a student makes, that education will cost money. For many families, the costs exceed their ability to pay or the amount a student can make working part-time or during the summer. The Federal Government supports higher education through its student loan programs, and the majority of student loans are federal.2 Many of the young people in our region need these loans. While these programs have succeeded in increasing the number of students receiving higher education, they have left many with significant loans, burdened taxpayers with defaults, and contributed to rising costs of education (by making money easily available).
In 2015, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York presented its analysis of the student loan issue, which included the following observations:
The main driver of this high loan burden is the cost of higher education. Private colleges are more expensive than public colleges. For-profit institutions are the most expensive, and more students attending these institutions take loans. For some students, the cost of degrees at these for-profit institutions may not be worthwhile.5
For students with loans, we need to expand plans which allow repayment options, particularly for those willing to work in rural and underserved areas and select occupations. These programs can encourage young people to stay in the 21st Congressional District, benefit our small businesses, and support needed industries.
For our future students, we need to:
These programs require that the Federal Government (and federal tax codes) support those state governments which promote state schools and community colleges.
Higher education is critical in the modern world. For many, the pathways to education can include a variety of different approaches. At various points in our lives, these may include community colleges, vocational training, or part-time schooling with work. For some students, these approaches may be more cost-effective than a traditional college experiences. We need to support programs which realistically explain the cost and benefits to students and their families (particularly those who have less financial experience) and offer repayment options which are clear and stable. We need to offer competition to control the rising costs of higher education by investing in our state and community colleges.
We need to keep the hope for a better future alive.