Need An Education? Good Luck Paying For it!

September 9th 2014

Matthew Segal

In his show, "Last Week Tonight," John Oliver recently summarized America's broken student loan system.

The student loan debt crisis affects every American citizen because when the average college student owes more than $25,000 upon graduating, the likelihood of saving for cars, homes, or other important consumer goods becomes untenable. This impacts our entire economy-- not just students.

In July 2013, federal loan interest rates were switched from a fixed percentage at 3.4 percent to a rate that varies with the market, allowing students to take advantage of temporarily low rates, but offering little protection for students when rates inevitably begin to climb, as the Congressional Budget Office projects they will. This borders on becoming predatory.

Student debt, which now exceeds credit card debt at over one trillion dollars, is forcing an unprecedented amount of young Americans to drop out of college, and question 'whether college is worth it' in the first place—especially given high youth unemployment among recent graduates. 

Senator Elizabeth Warren's proposed legislation, The Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, is up for a vote in the Senate tomorrow. It would allow borrowers to refinance their student loans at lower interest rates-- similar to how millions of home owners can refinance their mortgages. If you want to add your name in support of the legislation, click here. 


But above all, we must shift the paradigm away from machinations over interest rates, and more toward the question of 'how can we make college more affordable and available for all into perpetuity? There are many worthwhile proposals from states ranging from Oregon to Tennessee on this matter, but the federal government has, unfortunately, taken none seriously.

This story was cross-posted at