Letters to the Editor

Letter: The burden of loans

I paid my student loans. But when I started college in 1968, at a private liberal arts college, tuition plus room and board was less than $5,000 yearly. I had scholarships and work-study jobs, and parental help, and left with minimal loans.

Years later, I attended law school at a private school that charged more than $7,000 annually for tuition alone (this was a discounted rate; Alaska subsidized my tuition to an “in-state” rate under the WICHE program); after I graduated, my loans were half forgiven because I returned to Alaska to practice. Years later, I helped my daughter pay off student loans that her payments left largely unreduced due to high interest rates.  

By contrast, as a lawyer, I saw clients of all ages burdened with student loans, some with balances of more than $100,000. Payments often exceeded their rent. Inflation alone does not account for the difference; moreover, many such students were poorly advised and poorly educated, and either failed to graduate or graduated into a bad economy or a less-remunerative field. Mostly, new graduates aren’t at their peak earning years. But we want an educated populace from which we can select teachers and others who may not earn high salaries. Even high earners may be burdened to cover mandatory student loan payments.

One benefit of a liberal arts education is learning how to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. I would hope that most of us, including those who paid their loans, could imagine the difficulty today’s heavy student loan burden creates. A $10,000 or $20,000 loan forgiveness benefit will mean a lot to many and may help all our futures.

— Frank Cahill


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