It's $6 a week, folks

Article Highlights

  • The federal government is slated to borrow more than a trillion dollars this year.

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  • The federal government needs to cut spending and raise taxes, and is in no place to be cooking up new commitments.

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  • Taxpayers should feel just fine asking students who accepted subsidized loans to pony up that $6 a week.

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  • We need to stop suggesting it's okay to renege on obligations of contracts we voluntarily signed.

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This piece is part of a debate on the National Journal's Education Experts Blog.

Five years ago, in a maneuver that some of us regarded as a troubling move for a federal government swimming in red ink, Congress decided to temporarily supersize the subsidy on student loans. Knowing how advocacy groups tend to regard any largesse as a permanent entitlement, no matter how temporary it's supposed to be, the risk was that taxpayers were being tapped to induce students to borrow more-- only to have PIRG later complain that their loan burdens were too big and the reset rates were too high. Shockingly, this has come to pass. Wow, hard to see that one coming, right?

Just three thoughts really:

1] The federal government is slated to borrow more than a trillion dollars this year. It needs to cut spending and raise taxes, and is in no place to be cooking up new commitments.

2] The outcry is about an increase of $2,800 in the amount being paid to Uncle Sam in the course of a 10-year repayment. That's about $280 a year, or less than $25 a month. Taxpayers should feel just fine asking students who accepted subsidized loans to pony up that $6 a week (which is precisely what the student committed to when taking the loan).

3] We really need to stop suggesting that it's okay renege on obligations when we decide we no longer like the terms of contracts we voluntarily signed. It's been a meme the last few years, especially with Occupy Wall Street, and it makes it makes it really hard to teach students to value promises, honor their obligations, or take responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

Frederick M. Hess is a resident scholar and director of Education Policy Studies at AEI.

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About the Author

 

Frederick M.
Hess
  • An educator, political scientist and author, Frederick M. Hess studies K-12 and higher education issues. His books include "Cage-Busting Leadership," "Breakthrough Leadership in the Digital Age," "The Same Thing Over and Over," "Education Unbound," "Common Sense School Reform," "Revolution at the Margins," and "Spinning Wheels." He is also the author of the popular Education Week blog, "Rick Hess Straight Up." Hess's work has appeared in scholarly and popular outlets such as Teachers College Record, Harvard Education Review, Social Science Quarterly, Urban Affairs Review, American Politics Quarterly, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Phi Delta Kappan, Educational Leadership, U.S. News & World Report, National Affairs, the Washington Post, the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic and National Review. He has edited widely cited volumes on the Common Core, the role of for-profits in education, education philanthropy, school costs and productivity, the impact of education research, and No Child Left Behind.  Hess serves as executive editor of Education Next, as lead faculty member for the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program, and on the review boards for the Broad Prize in Urban Education and the Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools. He also serves on the boards of directors of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and 4.0 SCHOOLS. A former high school social studies teacher, he teaches or has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Rice University and Harvard University. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Government, as well as an M.Ed. in Teaching and Curriculum, from Harvard University.


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