In 2011 the student debt hit $1 trillion with $3,000 of
new student debt accrued every second, according to Buisnessweek Magazine.
Simultaneously, the cost of education has exploded promising student loan debt
will only continue to rise in the future.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama
promised to make university education more accessible to America’s students.
“Let me put colleges and universities on notice,” the
President said, “If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get
from taxpayers will go down. Higher education can’t be a luxury - it is an economic
imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.”
Yet, an intractable Republican-led House of
Representatives allowed sequestration to take effect including measures that
will only exacerbate the student loan crisis in the United States.
According to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, under
the sequester, an estimated 70,000 students who can least afford it will have
to borrow more for college. Federal work-study grants will be cut by $49
million and supplemental educational opportunity grants for undergraduate
students will be cut by $37 million. Furthermore, many American students will
lose access to grants and work-study. It is likely thousands of students will
be unable to pursue higher education due to the sequester’s restrictions.
Work-study students won’t be the only ones suffering
the sequester fallout. Additional cuts to federal support for state
universities will perpetuate the vicious cycle of students and their families
being forced to pay higher tuition, and take on even more debt, to fill the gap
left by waning public support for higher education.
Sequester cuts even imperil the quality of the
education students are paying for at a time we can least afford it. Educational
achievement in the United States has fallen to the middle of the pack among
developed nations. Our students continue to test lower in mathematics and
science and 75% of American citizens ages 17-24 cannot pass military entrance
We cannot accept a less qualified workforce or
And can we cannot afford the economic consequences of
the deepening student loan debt crisis.
One Wisconsin Institute’s recent research indicates
student-loan debt is handicapping the Wisconsin economy. Statewide, the length
of student loan debt is 19 years for bachelor’s degrees and a whopping 22 years
for master’ and professional degrees. Student loan debt inhibits individuals
spending capabilities and, therefore, adversely affects the state and national
economy. For instance, individuals paying on a student loan are more than
twice as likely to purchase a used versus new vehicle. Annual aggregate new
vehicle spending consequently may be reduced in Wisconsin by up to $201.8
Democrats, Republicans and independents certainly have
different views on many of the challenges facing our state and nation. There is
one thing we all can agree on, however - we love the University of Wisconsin-
Madison. We want Wisconsin’s best students, regardless of income, to continue
to attend our university. We want our students to be taught by the best
possible faculty and staff. And we do not want our graduates and economy to be
crippled by student debt.
It is time to tell Congress that we have had enough.
The future of our state and nation depends on it.
Adelaide Davis is a senior at the
University of Wisconsin-Madison studying History and African Studies with an
emphasis in International Public Policy. She is an intern at the progressive
advocacy organization One Wisconsin Now.