Spotsylvania News

Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Paul Wrubel’s Column on Paying For College makes sense

May I digress from Spotsylvania government today and talk about the column in the paper by Paul Wrubel, American crisis: Paying for college? Page D3. 

It is Sunday.

I read it with great interest because if there is one obstacle I have always battled in life, it’s debt. And most of the debt is college loan debt.

I attended college for six years. I have two degrees, one from a two-year school and another from a four-year school. I had to borrow approximately $5,000 each year. I was pretty independent during my college years and I lived in an apartment at age 17, after I graduated from high school.

I worked 32 hours a week at a liquor store when I was at my two-year school. I worked the same hours at Pizza Hut when I was at my four-year school. This paid my rent. I also fell into the trap of applying for one of the credit cards from companies that swarmed college campuses. That was a huge mistake because I wasn’t responsible enough to have $4,000 in fake money. Within two years, I bought three bass guitars and countless other things I just didn’t need.

As I became more mature, I was able to  fix my financial errors.

But one thing continues to haunt me today: college loans.

I owe about $17,000 still, and I am 33. I begged my congressman when he came in for an interview at my prior job to do something about the interest rate scam on college loans. Why am I paying more interest on my college loans than I am on my house? Why do so many middle-income, even poor, young people come out of college with major debt?

I begged him to  do something about it because I just wasn’t making enough ground. I pay almost $300 a month to Sallie Mae and it’s crushing me.

And in today’s paper I see that George Miller, the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, has a 100-page bill called the College Cost Reduction Act.

This bill won’t help me, but that’s OK. It will help my future children and your college-bound kids.

Trust me, it’s a true struggle paying this much for so long. I haven’t been able to accumulate a true savings because of this. I luckily was able to buy a house—one I cannot sell in the current market—but the crunch of my college debt really limited my house choices. And I bought this home with a  tiny down payment, which a friend loaned to me.

My point is, college costs have increased quite a bit since I graduated in 1998. And interest rates have varied, but they are still too high. This bill provides all sorts of loan forgiveness and payback options, according to Wrubel.

I hope this passes.

And then I’ll wish I were 12 years younger.