Student loan rate debate ignores the real problem of borrowing


While the Democrats and Republicans grandstand about avoiding increases on the interest rate for certain subsidized federal student loans, we’re having the wrong discussion entirely. Instead, we should be focusing on making it more difficult to borrow ourselves into student loan debt in the first place.

We as a country are drunk on student loan debt. If you have to be drunk on some kind of debt, student loan debt has a relatively good purpose because it’s for education. But the level of debt is not manageable; we are looking at more than $1 trillion in student loans!

Both the GOP and the Democrats say they want to keep interest rates that are scheduled later this summer to go to 6.8% capped at their now current rate of 3.4%. The GOP wants to pay for it with cuts in social spending. The Democrats want to pay for it by closing loopholes for the rich.

Yet it’s not the interest rate that’s the problem; the problem is the total amount being borrowed. You need to do what you can to prevent excess student loan borrowing in your own life.

Am I saying don’t go to college? No. What I’m saying is make it affordable, even if you have to study where you didn’t want to. If it means going to a community college instead of a college with a famous name, so be it. We have to attack this before it gets too much more out of hand.

My executive producer Joel went as a freshman to a private college and that proved to be a back breaking expense. So he did the next three years at a state college. By doing so, he reduced his costs by a factor of 80%. Upon graduation, his total student loan debt was $12,500 instead of the $50,000 it could have been had he stayed at that private college. Now at 28, he still has $5,000 outstanding in student loan debt.

Don’t learn this lesson in the school of hard knocks. Learn this in the school of Clark. You’ll like my school better anyway!

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