It’s the season for the nation’s political warriors (or wimps as the case might be in some places) to return to their home turf and show their constituents some in-person attention, and happily our state is no exception to the rule, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren visited North Adams on Sunday and Pittsfield and Dalton on Monday to talk issues and recent political action with residents.
We were heartened to see the senator in North Adams not only because of the face-time so appreciated in our corner of the state, but also because the main issues she chose to speak about to the crowd at the American Legion were ones we feel passionately on as well.
"This year, the United States government will make -- you ready for this? -- $57 billion off the backs of our kids who are trying to get an education. In one year, that’s what we’re making off the [college] student loan program," Warren said to the packed house at the Legion. "The student loan program that just passed will make $184 billion in the next 10 years off just the new loans. I think this is fundamentally wrong."
If the federal government is going to have a student loan program, it should exist mainly to aid students in their pursuit of a degree, not to make obscene amounts of money off of them while they try to better themselves and rise up in this world. We realize the costs of any such aid program must come from somewhere, but to make this much off one is frankly horrifying.
Some have already named college costs and student debt as the next great bubble to burst in our economy. We fear these oracles might be correct. While Warren’s right to point out that Republican filibustering stood in the way of the Senate trying to lessen these federal student loan profit margins, we think this issue goes beyond party politics: The repercussions of present and future college students being victimized by such avarice threatens to be one of the worst societal tragedies of our time.
It’s not just what is happening in Washington with student loan interest rates that is a travesty, but also that college costs have been allowed to rise the way they have at the same time that a degree has become seemingly the only passport out of sure poverty and struggle for many.
With this institutional insult already on the road to being ensconced in the nation’s socioeconomic landscape, we’re encouraged to know one of our senators is in Washington crying foul and working to uproot it. May she find many allies and turn the course through her efforts.