An issue that both President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney actually agree on can only mean two things for America — either the Mayans were right or it’s something that should be seriously considered.
With Congress’ College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which decreased the interest rate on federal student loans from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent, set to expire July 1, both class-equality advocate Obama and champion for the private sector Romney have finally found some common ground. Not extending the act could cripple the future generation of college students and workforce beyond repair.
According to The Atlantic, the typical college tuition has tripled over the last 30 years, yet the earnings gap between college graduates and high school graduates has also tripled during the same timeframe, from 75 percent in 1979 to 230 percent in 2003.
This “paradox of college costs,” as The Atlantic calls it, means that it is now just as expensive to go to college as it is not to go. And when considering that tuition in Florida is set to escalate yet again — the State University System sustained a $300 billion funding cut in next year’s budget — loans will have an even bigger presence in Florida students’ battle against a 9 percent unemployment rate, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
If the act is not renewed, students would watch those loan rates double overnight — a difference of about $1,000, according to the Washington Post.
The only hitch in the plan, and the issue giving pause to Congressional action, is the $6 billion it would cost to extend the program for another year, according to the Post. However, it’s worth noting that the cost could have been almost completely covered by the extra revenue brought in from the “Buffett Rule,” a tax plan recently defeated by Congress that would place a minimum tax of 30 percent on American millionaires.
There is no easy solution to helping today’s college students when 50 percent of recent grads are unemployed or underemployed, as Romney told reporters Monday. Without changes to government spending, this temporary solution to boosting job prospects for students will become a repeated discussion. However, with severe cuts to federal aid programs and 7.4 million students across the U.S. affected by the act, according to the Chicago Tribune, it is necessary to preserving the future of the economy.
Romney and Obama have realized that this is not a party issue and Congress should too. Creating opportunities for future generations is a platform that all allege to work toward, and actually finding a solution to turn words into action would secure votes on either side of the political spectrum.