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Keep Rates Low For Students & Economy

By Dennis Van Roekel

More than 7.4 million students with federal student loans will see their interest rates double on July 1 unless Congress steps in to keep them low.

The economy is the number one political issue, and higher student loan interest rates would be an additional burden on a still-fragile economy struggling to rebound. It doesn't take the wisdom of Solomon to understand that it's a bad idea for college students to dig themselves deeper into debt.

Extending lower rates for student loans should be a no-brainer. But in this hyper-divisive political climate, even the call to spare students seeking a college education from being saddled with debt has fallen victim to partisan bickering.

Funny thing about educators, we’re good at math. Some, like me, even taught it. How do you manage $15,000 in student loans on a $30,000 beginning teacher’s salary?

That’s an arithmetic problem that plenty of new teachers and current education majors are agonizing over. The result is many young people, looking at their future income-to-debt ratio, are making decisions about careers based on the reality of having to repay loans.

Raising the bar for entry into teaching is a key plank in NEA’s action plan to transform the profession. Leading the profession begins with preparation, and we are jeopardizing a whole generation of teachers. Over the next decade, the Department of Education estimates we will need about 1.6 million new people to join the teaching profession.

At a time when there is a growing need for qualified teachers, young people are being discouraged from entering the profession. We are losing too many qualified teachers because of student loan debt. It's not just a burden, it's a barrier.

NEA urges Republicans on Capitol Hill to put students ahead of politics and to keep interest rates from doubling in July. This is the right thing to do for students now and for our future.

Act now! Call your members of Congress and tell them to stop student loan interest rates from doubling.


This piece first appeared at National Journal’s Education Experts Blog