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Student Loan Interest Rankles College Grads

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the loan-arranger dept.

Education 1259

theodp writes "Like many recent college grads, Steven Lee finds himself unemployed in one of the roughest job markets in decades and saddled with a big pile of debt — he owes about $84,000 in student loans for undergrad and grad school. But what's really got Lee angry are the high interest rates on his government-backed student loans. 'The rate for a 30-year mortgage is around 5%,' Lee said. 'Why should anyone have to pay 8.5%? The government has bailed out homeowners. It's bailed out big businesses. Why can't it also help students?' Not only that, federal student loans are the only loans in the nation that are largely non-dischargeable in bankruptcy, have no statutes of limitations, and can't be refinanced after consolidation, so Lee can forget about pulling a move out of the GM playbook. And unlike mortgages on million-dollar vacation homes, student loans have very limited tax deductability. A spokeswoman for the Department of Education blamed Congress for the rates which she conceded 'may seem high today,' but suggested that students are a credit-unworthy lot who should thank their lucky stars that rates aren't 12% or higher. Makes one long for the good-old-days of 3% student loans, doesn't it?"

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All mine were cheap! (5, Interesting)

dieman (4814) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789143)

Direct loans were cheap, and the consolidation brought them down to ~5% afair. I know the new loans are not as cheap, but thats because some idiot decided having non-direct loans and promising a profit to everyone who serviced them. Doh!

Re:All mine were cheap! (2, Informative)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789163)

Not sure where the mentions loans were from, but my loans have all been cheap too. My lowest interest rate was 4.5% and the highest was around 6%.

Re:All mine were cheap! (2, Informative)

dov_0 (1438253) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789187)

All my student debts are in Australia. The system here is a one off 10% levy on student loans from the government then it gets taken out of your pay with your tax, after you reach a certain thresh-hold. Debts cease on death (a nice comforter if you've done a lot of study and don't want family saddled with debt.)

Re:All mine were cheap! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789331)

In Australia, an average degree costs about $20K to $30K (depending on arts vs science/law/engineering/etc) and there's no interest on the government loan. It is, however, indexed to inflation.

If you go overseas, you don't have to keep paying it until you return to Australia, and it is terminated upon death. That maximum rate it is taken from you pay at is 7% and that only starts when you hit about $30K to $40K per year.

This only applies to degrees taken at public universities, but most of the universities in Australia are public (certainly all the best ones are).

So to hear about this system America uses is quite disturbing. The university attendance rate over there must be exceptionally low?

Re:All mine were cheap! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789453)

The university attendance rate in the U.S. is way, way too high, and will get even worse if interest rates on student loans are lowered further below the free market rate. U.S. colleges are churning out hundreds of thousands of graduates with useless majors. Half of all recent graduates are unemployed, and half of those that are employed are working jobs that don't even require a college degree. The government is encouraging all this useless, non-productive "education" by subsidizing loans for high-risk borrowers who don't consider the risk of the investment.

Think about it-- an 18 year old student spending $200,000 to study basket-weaving for 8 years gets the same rates as a 25 year old getting a nursing certification at a community college, even though their risk/reward profile is completely different. It doesn't make any sense.

Re:All mine were cheap! (4, Interesting)

anagama (611277) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789409)

Mostly it depends on when you went to school -- I consolidated my graduate loans in 2000. So my rate is 7.75%. Which does suck. I don't understand why I can't "re-finance" my loans every time rates go low.

It's cheap compared to India... (3, Informative)

jkrise (535370) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789151)

In India, student loans are 12% compound interest; while the borrowing rate in good banks is as high as 7.5% compunded quarterly.Money makes the world go round...

Re:It's cheap compared to India... (3, Informative)

metlin (258108) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789169)

But in India, education is also highly subsidized and in a lot of universities, the fee structure is merit-based (i.e. your ranking in your entrance examinations determine which stratum you fall under).

Re:It's cheap compared to India... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789417)

And in India do you know what you're signing up for before you do it?

If you've spent the money to go to grad school in deferment of employment, do you think you should be able to easily change the terms of the loan you agreed to?

My opinion is that people should have to make good on the loans they've asked for and taken.

Re:It's cheap compared to India... (2, Interesting)

anagama (611277) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789589)

You can make good on the loan by paying it off with the proceeds from another loan. In the housing world, anyone who doesn't refinance when interest rates fall sufficiently below the rate being paid on the original loan is absolutely batshit insane. It's standard advice to get a lower rate. Why can't student loans go through the same process? And why would that be unfair? The original lender gets their money back. The new lender gets a rate it is happy with offering? Where are the cheaters or losers?

Experience from academia (4, Insightful)

IgD (232964) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789155)

I worked at a mid size private university in the midwest and tuition rates were astronomical ($30k for undergrad). I think the loans are one thing but tuition rates are a larger issue. I wondered how they stayed in business especially these days.

Re:Experience from academia (1)

srothroc (733160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789247)

My university was even more expensive; it's apparently (or was, when I went several years ago) the fifth most-expensive university in the America. Doesn't help that I was basically unemployed for a year after graduating and now I have a job that doesn't pay very much.

Re:Experience from academia (0, Troll)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789365)

Repeat to yourself until you understand: a university is not a job training center. Those are called "vocational colleges" and produce many of society's useful morons: plumbers, electricians, and other Bush-voter jobs that are held in universal scorn. I mean, how many societies have plumbers as heroes? Sane, sustainable societies treat education as an end in itself, an expansion of the mind that is a bargain at any price. If you're not educated, then you might just find yourself in that voter's booth pulling the wrong lever...

Re:Experience from academia (1)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789433)

I mean, how many societies have plumbers as heroes?

Probably any society that's had a severe plumbing issue that they couldn't fix.

BTW -

The issue here is that someone is paying a pretty high interest rate compared to other types of loans on the market. Which doesn't quite seem right, at least to me.

I also really hope that you're joking in your post. I'd never call an electrician or a plumber a Bush-voter.

Re:Experience from academia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789447)

Socrates wasn't an asshole either.

Re:Experience from academia (2, Interesting)

anagama (611277) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789525)

Sane, sustainable societies treat education as an end in itself

All your highfalutin ideas about education being the point of education is just fine as long as you don't have to worry that much about shelter and food. At the rate tuition is increasing though, a higher education will become the sole domain of the wealthy which means that countries with a system like that in Australia (mentioned above) are going to kick our plumbing asses one of these days.

In a sane sustainable society, education is seen to be valuable in and of itself, but is also affordable so that many minds can benefit (and return the benefit back to society). Such a society is structured so that graduates can eat, live, and be productive members. An insane, unsustainable society fails to value education and in so doing, saddles anyone who attempts it with crushing debt load.

Re:Experience from academia (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789327)

I wondered how they stayed in business especially these days.

I am not 100% confident on this but I'd guess it's either 1) They cater to high income families and/or 2) subsidies. That's a lot of the difference between in and out of state tuition costs to students; the out of state costs are horrifying to behold.

Re:Experience from academia (4, Insightful)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789355)

"I think the loans are one thing but tuition rates are a larger issue. "

tuition prices are so high because kids keep getting approved for loans. I imagine schools might someday see the same thing the housing market has recently if the prices keep going up faster than inflation [miamiherald.com] . Can't sustain that forever.

Re:Experience from academia (2, Interesting)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789563)

tuition prices are so high because kids keep getting approved for loans.

No, they're high because so many kids are trying to get into schools. Supply and demand.

Student loans are enabling/helping it, but it isn't the root cause.

Re:Experience from academia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789389)

Maybe if interest rates were higher the overall cost of tuition would be lower. Similar if fewer loans were available or less government assistance.

Re:Experience from academia (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789421)

but tuition rates are a larger issue

Who the fuck lets these people in here? Rules of US higher education: 1st Rule: You do not talk about tuition rates. 2nd Rule: You DO NOT talk about tuition rates. Schools are hapless doers of good suffering under the yoke of capitalist oppression in an attempt to salvage at least some minds from a life of abject ignorance. You DO NOT question tuition rates or rate of increases, accreditation criteria, etc. Sufficient debt vehicles have been provided to fund your education.

How can you bring this up now, when so many wise and lucrative investments are having 'liquidity issues'?
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aHou7iMlBMN8

Re:Experience from academia (1)

skine (1524819) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789457)

$30k is just ridiculous for tuition.

Of course, I may just be jaded from living in New York, where undergrad tuition in the SUNY system is less than $15,000 for non-residents, and generally less than than $7000 for residents per semester.

Re:Experience from academia (1)

fucket (1256188) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789581)

$7,000/semester x 8 semesters = $56,000 $56,000 > $30,000

Typo in summary: detectability vs deductibility (5, Informative)

bipbop (1144919) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789161)

I think you mean "deductibility", not "detectability", though I'll admit to not reading very closely.

Re:Typo in summary: detectability vs deductibility (4, Interesting)

MistrBlank (1183469) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789473)

Last time I checked, student loan interest is deductible... I don't know what more of a handout this guy needs.

YOU SIGNED THE PAPERWORK, YOU HAVE NO ONE ELSE TO BLAME, YOU COULD HAVE GONE TO A CHEAPER SCHOOL.

Re:Typo in summary: detectability vs deductibility (2, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789615)

Up to $2500. Whoop-de-fuckin-do.

Hmm.. must be some difference (5, Informative)

cjfs (1253208) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789167)

The rate for a 30-year mortgage is around 5%,' Lee said. 'Why should anyone have to pay 8.5%?

Because if you default on the mortgage, they can take your house. Education repossession technology is still in beta. Even when it works it and rarely returns anything of value.

Re:Hmm.. must be some difference (2, Insightful)

Compholio (770966) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789207)

The rate for a 30-year mortgage is around 5%,' Lee said. 'Why should anyone have to pay 8.5%?

Because if you default on the mortgage, they can take your house. Education repossession technology is still in beta. Even when it works it and rarely returns anything of value.

Yes, because clearly paying taxes isn't a return on the government's investment.

Re:Hmm.. must be some difference (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789369)

"Yes, because clearly paying taxes isn't a return on the government's investment."

you pay taxes whether you went to college or not, although I do like your idea, get a college loan and you don't have to pay taxes! Ya! All the well-educated rich people don't pay taxes, keep screwing the poor idiots!

Re:Hmm.. must be some difference (1)

McFortner (881162) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789265)

Because if you default on the mortgage, they can take your house. Education repossession technology is still in beta. Even when it works it and rarely returns anything of value.

Heaven knows, my degree is worthless. I've been out of college for 12 years and never found a job even remotely related to my major. And now that I'm on disability, they still are hounding me for money I don't have!

Re:Hmm.. must be some difference (2, Informative)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789371)

And when you default on the student loans your wages and other income gets garnished. That renders your point moot.

Re:Hmm.. must be some difference (4, Insightful)

bkpark (1253468) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789431)

And when you default on the student loans your wages and other income gets garnished. That renders your point moot.

Provided that you have an income. If someone is defaulting on hist student loan (and given the generous forbearance and other options before the dishonorable default), what makes you think he actually still has his job?

If someone has a mortgage, then unless he's done something illegal he does have a house that can be repossessed—it may be worth less than the mortgage, but it's still something, unlike with education.

Re:Hmm.. must be some difference (1)

cjfs (1253208) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789443)

And when you default on the student loans your wages and other income gets garnished. That renders your point moot.

Underwater basket weaving majors have income?

Re:Hmm.. must be some difference (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789445)

Exactly, why does he not just refinance through a secured load, oh thats right, he has no security (assuming).

The big question being asked is how come students lap up such loans - because we are all convinced you are
a failure without going to an expensive college, which is crap.

Mine are very cheap (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789173)

I just consolidated my federal student loans, at 2.25%. I'm not sure where these people are getting the 8+% figures from.

Easily detected (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789177)

My student loans were detected in my taxes and actually increased my refund.

Student Loan Forgiveness Plan (4, Informative)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789185)

Pay your loan for 10 years... and the government will excuse the rest.

Some restrictions apply...

http://www.nextstudent.com/articles/student-loans-forgiven.asp [nextstudent.com]

Re:Student Loan Forgiveness Plan (1)

Schlacht (18295) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789603)

Awesome idea, go to school, work hard striving for that dream career of --fill in the blank-- then enlist in the military and be a soldier for ten years! Wow, great option ...

Tough Shit. (5, Insightful)

Nikkos (544004) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789195)

You saw the rates when you signed the papers. Not anyone's fault but yours. And no, I didn't want a bailout for GM or the banks either.

Re:Tough Shit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789299)

Egg-fucking-zactly. Why in the hell is the gov't bailing out *anybody*? The expectation of entitlement that is becoming so prevalent in the US bodes ill for the continuance of our nation in any form like that conceived of by our Founding Fathers. Sad, that.

But me, I think that this is part of someones plan. Someone whose ass I would like to kick. Someone kind of like Soros, et al...; those who bet and act against the dollar and our nation, and then use the resulting slide as a hue-and-cry which does nothing but further their own interests.

Now watch this get modded "Troll" by some mods who can't see the Truth that sits out there beyond the end of their politically-leftist noses...

Re:Tough Shit. (1, Informative)

gbarules2999 (1440265) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789329)

If you want financial aid or even some scholarships, you have no choice but to take whatever loan they offer you.

Re:Tough Shit. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789507)

tough shit again. people should live within your means. artificially low interest rates completely distorts the distribution of resources...

you should work part time, and go to community college.

if your grades are real good, then transfer to a state school. my brother got his bachelors and his masters, in mathematics, from university of texas at san antonio.

he found grants and loans and worked.

he got out only owing 20k

live within your means, or face the consequences.

not everyone is meant for college.

what really kills me are people going in to debt for liberal arts type degrees. fucking fools.

people just don't have a fucking clue these days, and it shows.

a buddy of mine who is 38 and vice president at local bank, said 12 months ago that mortgage bubble would belly up, followed by private lending institutions, and then it would be replayed over and over, as the same process worked it's way through school loans, car loans, credit cards, business lines of credit, loans for

people WILL be forced to deal with their choices, and they can blame the Federal Reserve, Obama, Bush, Clinton, Greenspan, Bernanke, Reagan etc ...they all have played their part ...but much of this falls back on poor choices made by stupid people.

Re:Tough Shit. (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789597)

If you want financial aid or even some scholarships, you have no choice but to take whatever loan they offer you.

You can always walk away and not want the loan. Universities do not posess some secret knowledge, it's all in the books and if you can read you can learn. Smart employers will ignore your lack of degree if instead you present a lot of experience. They know that most of what you learned in university is useless and better be forgotten. It is quite easy to become an expert in programming, FPGA design and hardware design while never leaving your home - if only you can read. For example, analog RF designers with microwave experience and specific knowledge are rare, but needed everywhere - because microwave design is hard, in theory and in practice. But it's not impossible to learn.

Re:Tough Shit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789351)

Except the problem is many students are still kids, and kids don't quite grasp the meaning of money. It's like candy and a baby, they'll take as much as they want until they get sick. Education is more and more about money, and less about learning. I mean shit, except of the very latest tech(which they don't teach in schools anyways) most things you can just buy a good book on... ok, buy the cheaper one published in India ;)

Re:Tough Shit. (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789395)

Honestly, yeah. If you went to a pricey private school, then couldn't get a job, you overspent. Maybe you'll make your kids go to a public school, and then the expensive private schools will lower their rates or go out of business.

Re:Tough Shit. (1, Interesting)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789403)

So what you're saying is that even though the system is broken it is your own damn fault for having put up with it to get a college education? That's not solving anything.

Re:Tough Shit. (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789541)

There are lots of ways to get a degree without taking bad loans - or loans at all for that matter.

Re:Tough Shit. (1)

Estanislao Martnez (203477) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789405)

You saw the rates when you signed the papers.

...except that student loan rates are variable, and thus your rates are subject to being reset over time.

Re:Tough Shit. (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789411)

"And no, I didn't want a bailout for GM or the banks either."

yeah i'm still wondering where "The government has bailed out homeowners" came from. They did? I own a home, where's my check? I didn't get a dime. HELLO GOV'T? Recent college graduate Steven Lee says you guys owe me a check!!! GOV'T are you listening?

Re:Tough Shit. (2, Insightful)

Schlacht (18295) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789509)

And if some shit hits you like a divorce, a company going under you committed years of effort to, and other 'snake-eyes' throws of the dice since you finished school, then what? And then 'null' level of flexibility is offered as short-term support, no adjustment other than upward of said interest rates due to missed payments .. then what. Lost wife, house, etc ... what is left? Not much ...

Life can be "tough-shit" for some, very accurate post. But, no, a bailout is not the answer ... some bullshit bankrupt maneuver is also deconstructive to the system. The future of education in America will continue to degrade in this process though. Some people will work hard their whole life, also while going to school, never draw a day of unemployment, and hope that things fall into place. For many it will, but for some it won't. When it does not fall into place quite like they hoped, hearing the wise words of some cockhoster like you saying, "Tough Shit" does not do much for anyone. Thanks for trying though.

Re:Tough Shit. (4, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789551)

Yes, but did they understand what the papers they signed meant, before they took the accounting classes?

Students are a gullible group.. if the banks convince them they need an 8% student loan, because for some reason they "are a poor credit risk", then the students who don't have the education yet are likely to sign, not even realizing there may be a possibility of finding another deal (or maybe there's not another option).

The claim students are a poor credit risk is one of the strangest... with a debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, has no statute of limitations, has a government guarantee behind it, including an ability to garnish wages, and these people taking out student loans are generally young people....

It seems like student loan debt is less of a credit risk than most other types of even secured debt.

I declare that: "students are a credit-unworthy lot who should thank their lucky stars that rates aren't 12% or higher."

Is basically nonsense.

It makes no more sense than saying "30 year olds are an uncreditworthy lot."

It's credit history that relates to creditworthiness, not being a student or not.

That's a rip off (4, Interesting)

solid_liq (720160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789215)

My Direct Loans are still around 3%. I wonder why he's paying 8.5%.

Real world loans are going to really freak you out (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789353)

There are two general type of student loans: direct and non-direct with a dirt cheap and a cheap interest rate. 8.5% is cheap for an UNSECURED loan that doesn't START accumulating interest until AFTER you graduate (actually Govt pays interest till you graduate).

Dude- you got $85K with ZERO collateral. The rate is NOT unreasonable. It is the best investment you can make for your future.

You can always become a teacher in the inner city or work 2 years for Peace Corps or any of the other methods the government has setup for most or all of your loan to be FORGIVEN.

Stop complaining about getting cheap money with no collateral and no limitation, except that you go to school.

this article is distorted (2, Informative)

societyofrobots (1396043) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789221)

Unlike most other loans, student loans can get you a large tax deduction come April.

Work as a bill collector..... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789231)

....Its the only finance job that matters anymore. Or just blow your brains out, instead

tuition is insane. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789235)

Tuition rates at many places is in the $40K range now. Schools have no incentive to keep costs down because they can borrow an infinite amount of money from the government on students' future credit. The result is a largely rubber-stamping budget process with occasional overtures to fiscal responsibility that are made more in name than in practice. A few schools are trying to be fiscally responsible this year because of the recession, mostly so they can say they're fiscally responsible and raise money from donors. Realistically, the spiralling admissions costs will make colleges more and more a redistributive agent as they funnel money from paying students to financial aid. The cycle seems unsustainable, and it sure as hell doesn't reflect the real world, but it will only be unsustainable until colleges can't attract the number of people they want to admit. Currently the top schools have admittance rates of easily 20% or less; they could double tuition and they'd still fill every seat.

So it's sustainable for a while.

Re:tuition is insane. (3, Insightful)

mdarksbane (587589) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789341)

Grow up, go to state college, get a job.

The government subsidy on college loans is being able to get a loan in the first place. How else can you get a loan for $30-60k (or more) as an 18 year old with no credit history, no job, and no skills! You're an idiot to place yourself in that much debt with a very clear understanding of the terms and a strong plan on how exactly you're going to pay them off. The job market is weak right now, but companies are still hiring - go train yourself up and find one.

If you can live cheap you should be able to pay off state college as you go. If you do Co-ops or internships all the way through you can pay a quarter work a quarter and graduate with no debt and a better chance of getting a full time job when you get out.

Someone (god only knows why) decided that simply because you wanted to go to college you were worth tens of thousands of dollars at honestly a really low interest rate, compared to if you wanted that money to do anything else (go try to get a signature loan for ten grand from a bank and see what interest they give you, if they don't laugh in your face).

You got yourself in debt and you alone. If you decided to spend that money you acquired on something that isn't going to allow you to pay it back, it's nobody's fault but your own.

Nearly 50% of all fortune 100 CEO's graduated from a state university. There's no reason to think you need any better if you can't afford it.

Thannk you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789415)

Thank you for pointing out the obvious. I made it through Ohio State in 4 years, working my ass off, without any debt. School loans are the primary reason tuition and fees are high. If the goverment weren't subsidizing it by backing outrageous school loans, then tuition would drop and a college education would be much more accessible to those willing to work. Right now, though, it's only accessible to those who are willing (or ignorant) enough to sell out their future. The government is a large part of the problem, and the current administration is xeroxing the previous 20 years of making it worse.

Barking up the wronf tree. (5, Insightful)

Estanislao Martnez (203477) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789237)

'The rate for a 30-year mortgage is around 5%,' Lee said. 'Why should anyone have to pay 8.5%? The government has bailed out homeowners. It's bailed out big businesses. Why can't it also help students?' Not only that, federal student loans are the only loans in the nation that are largely non-dischargeable in bankruptcy, have no statutes of limitations, and can't be refinanced after consolidation, so Lee can forget about pulling a move out of the GM playbook. And unlike mortgages on million-dollar vacation homes, student loans have very limited tax detectability.

Mortgages and car loans are secured loans, where the property or car that is bought with them is pledged as collateral. This makes a big difference for the interest rates. Student loans just ain't so.

Anyway, I've heard complaints like this about student loan rates before, and I've always had the same basic response: you're barking up the wrong tree. You don't really want lower interest rates on student loans; you want the government to spend more on making higher education affordable for those who qualify for it. There's a bunch of countries out there where if you get admitted into a university, the government picks up the tuition bill, period. Those countries ain't richer than the USA.

Re:Barking up the wronf tree. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789345)

Many people think that a lower interest rate is the easy answer. In itself, it's a recipe for disaster in skyrocketing education costs. Look at housing: give the public cheap money and all it does is cause more people to pile into that asset class and raise prices, therefore nullifying the advantage of a lower rate and causing a bigger problem in the long term.

They need to lower the rate, but maintain the supply/demand ratio, either by offering more centres of education (ideal), or by keeping entry restrictions high.

For housing, if they lowered the interest rate, they should have raised the down payment requirement to compensate. But then that would have blown out their little plan to lure everyone into as much debt as possible.

As a college student (2, Insightful)

gbarules2999 (1440265) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789241)

Fuck off, Department of Education spokesperson (and the quoted Republican party stance in the story too). I saved up three years of minimum wage for my college fund and I didn't do it just to hear how I'm an ungrateful child when I ask why I'm forced to pay a ridiculous amount of extra money on top of what is turning into an endeavor that is beyond the concept of "costly." Give me a break. Even with that hard work through high school I'm still forced into penny pinching.

Re:As a college student (2, Informative)

gbarules2999 (1440265) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789309)

Though to be honest I'm ranting more about tuition here than loans. My loans are actually pretty damn low; like in the 2-3% range. The ones outside of the feds go into 8%.

comparison with mortgage rates (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789251)

30-year fixed-rate mortgages are backed by the property itself as collateral, and usual require either a 20 percent down payment or private mortgage insurance to protect against market fluctuations. (Of course, banks and mortgage companies have been known to market more "creative" products such as subprime mortgages, but presumably they have either learned their lesson or have been shut down by Federal regulators).

So that's comparing apples with oranges. Part of the higher rate for the student loan goes into a pool against defaults, when the government has no collateral to seize.

You always could have worked our way through... (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789253)

I saw the problem with school loans when my brother graduated from law school. I decided to work 40 hours a week at night and put myself through school. I graduated without any loans, but it took 6 years. All I can say is you're damned if you do and damned if you don't.

The real problem with school is that it's too expensive. We should consider it an investment to make college cheap. We don't. Business has decided that they don't need to pay taxes to keep schools open or up to date. They merely recruit the "best and the brightest" from around the world and lobby for low corporate taxes in the U.S.

The U.S. is becoming a really nice place to live...if you're rich.

i'm confused? (-1, Offtopic)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789255)

I don't understand how this is news for nerds? I've paid off my student loan debt, but am being foreclosed on. So I guess it is somewhat relevant, but it just seems like bitching. Although I am confused what tax dectability means. Wait, nevermind, it's a kdawson story, I'm no longer confused about made up words.

Grad student with huge loans (3, Interesting)

edwebdev (1304531) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789281)

I'm in a situation similar to the person featured in the article - interest accrues on my student loans at a rate of several thousand dollars per year, even WHILE I'M IN GRAD SCHOOL and have no reasonable means to pay down the principal. My tuition, even at a public undergraduate institution, was $30k + per year. I personally know many, many other grad students in my position. It's outrageous that the people the government and banks should be supporting - those who spend nearly a decade earning an advanced education - are being fleeced left and right.

credit-unworthy or just greedy? (5, Insightful)

Libertarian001 (453712) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789285)

If students are a "credit-unworthy lot" then limit the amounts they can borrow or make it a fixed amount that they must repay. Charging a higher interest rate for "credit-unworthy" people makes it more likely that they'll default, making it a self-fulfilling prophecy. This holds true for all borrowers.

High risk for lenders = high interest rates (2, Insightful)

AbsoluteXyro (1048620) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789287)

It's plain and simple. The reason interest rates on a certain category of loans is high is because the borrowers in that category present a high risk of default to the lenders. This means that as more and more college grads struggle to land jobs, more and more of them will default on their loans, and interest rates on the whole will rise for everybody as lenders compensate for the increased risk.

Re:High risk for lenders = high interest rates (2, Insightful)

KC1P (907742) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789339)

OK I see why that makes sense from the lender's point of view (they're just trying to balance things) but it's absolutely insane from the borrower's point of view. The high interest rates are what are paid by the people who DIDN'T default. They punish the wrong people -- the actual expense of the moochers is borne by the people who turned out not to be moochers after all.

not the real problem (3, Interesting)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789297)

The problem isn't finding a new fangled way for college student to be able to pay the enormous costs of college, it is to find ways to educate them more cheaply tha nwe do now. Online learning, competition, utilisation of open source textbooks... Be creative.

Restating the problem (5, Interesting)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789305)

The problem is one of treating education as a business like any other. The country obtains a benefit from having an educated citizenry, and allowing education of this type to be treated as just another profit-center is at best short-sighted, at worst actively hostile to the country's best interests. From this basic problem, everything else flows.

I'm from the UK, and just recently I've been reflecting on the things that I took for granted in the UK that are pay-for over here in the USA. Don't get me wrong, I love living here, I've just married an USAsian who's simply wonderful, but there are things I miss...

Primarily of course, is universal healthcare. The NHS is so far and away better than the situation we have here in the US that it's just not funny. Leaving that argument aside, the other major thing is education. My new wife and I were thinking about where any future offspring might be educated...

If the USA stays the same course as it's currently on, I think my children (as UK citizens by birthright) may be going to the UK for their education. It's a lot cheaper, it'll broaden their minds by travelling, and the quality is generally very high.

Oh how things have changed. I no longer think of the USA as being the gold-standard of higher education. Now I think of it as being just a way of transferring money from rich people to educated people.

As it happens, my wife paid off her student loans (for a JD/MBA) this evening (well, they'll settle on Tuesday). For the cost she just paid, we could buy a small house in the UK. The only debt higher is our mortgage, and living in a nice house in a nice part of the Bay area, that's expected.

I didn't pay for my education (although these days if you don't go to Scotland you pay something in the UK - it's a *lot* less than over here in the US though). I gave the UK about 10 years of higher taxes as a result - probably less than they were expecting - but moved to the USA for the nicer weather :)

Simon.

Re:Restating the problem (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789583)

My grandmother is from the communist era czech homeland . She missed a lot of the freebies too.

Of course there were untold number of things you simply could not get, unless it was smuggled in.

But now, she walks into an HEB grocery store here in south texas ...and it still boggles her mind.

She had free healthcare too back in the "day". But she didn't get a hip and knee replacements till she came to the United States.

I'm really tired of these whinny, idiot, moron, (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789311)

I'm really tired of these whinny, idiot, moron, democrats.

STEVEN LEE committed to pay back the loan, and he should have read the agreement. If he did not like the agreement, It's TOO LATE TO COMPLAIN ABOUT IT NOW!!!!!

Homeowners have not been bailed out! Those programs, like all programs from congress, are not working out for most homeowners in need!!!!! Read the news OR watch FOX News and you would know that!

NO MORE BAILOUTS! There is no more money! The idiot, moron, democrats have spent all of the money! In fact they are print more money and eroding the value of the dollar WITH COMPLETE DISREGARD!!!!

Impeach all democrats!

Remove trhe czars!

Deport illegal aliens! after all, they are criminals, they entered illegally!

No more bailouts!

No taxpayer funded healthcare!!

No cap and trade!!!!

Pay down the deficit! use the salaries of democrats to pay down the deficit!

Tax only democrats!!!

The worthlessness of "education" (1, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789313)

Its becoming increasingly obvious that education is more or less worthless for the -vast- majority of occupations. While a top degree will perhaps land you a job, people are starting to wonder why. The CEOs with degrees at Harvard are running companies into the ground. While education is a "nice thing" perhaps its time to start, as a society rebelling against unneeded education, especially with the internet. 25 years ago to find a lot of stuff you would need to spend time researching things either at a public library or at a college library. Today that is no longer the case. Similarly, even though technology has expanded, the skills needed to do a job have not for most careers, if anything technology has automated many of the tedious, time consuming and error-prone tasks. Knowledge is free, education is not. Knowledge is needed at most jobs, education in all honesty is not. I think its time for society to realize this.

Re:The worthlessness of "education" (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789363)

There is more to education than how you will function in society.

Re:The worthlessness of "education" (1, Troll)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789463)

Ideally, yes. In practice no. Ideally we would all learn how to think for ourselves, how to form opinions, how to learn and how to adapt. In practice you sit through lectures about topics that most of the time won't benefit you, cram before a test, regurgitate the information on a test and repeat. Not only that but everyone is out to screw you for your last dollar. You pay for overpriced texbooks with new editions that are just old editions rebranded with pages switched around so you can't use the old textbook, you pay overpriced tuition, you live in tiny dorms that are smaller than some bedrooms with some strange roommate who either enjoys doing drugs, listening to the type of music you don't like at full blast, coming in late at 3 AM and waking you up, or something equally as annoying. Yeah, education should be more than how you will function in society but if you've stepped onto a typical campus in 2009, you will find that isn't the case.

Re:The worthlessness of "education" (1)

rseal (1655205) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789567)

You're obviously not acquainted with any Engineering-related fields. Electrical and Computer Engineering fields change/advance on a weekly basis. Same goes for Software-related fields. It's hard to prepare someone for a career that advances at this rate because you still have to start with the basics (e.g. calculus, linear systems, signal processing) and progress towards current technology, which cannot be realistically be reached in 4 years, regardless of what you're told. To say education is completely worthless is a bit of a stretch unless you're speaking about history majors, poetry, liberal arts, music, and so on; and these fields only appear worthless considering the current economic climate.

Agreed (2, Informative)

Beowulf_Boy (239340) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789357)

I'll be graduating next summer with a Masters in IT Management. (Undergrad in Simulation Design Engineering)
75k or so in loans, and the year I went to college they jacked up the interest rate to 6.8%.

And to everyone saying its unsecured debt needs to actually look into their facts. Student Loans can not be bankrupt on, if I don't pay, the gubmint will dock my pay. Which actually is a better deal that paying the loans, the max they can dock is 15% per check, and my loans will be way more than that to actually pay.

The loans are government backed, they should be no interest.

Re:Agreed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789579)

Actually, I quite agree save for that if the government could be sure that they'd get their money back, there'd still need to be interest. As inflation would devalue the money if they were just trading 60K for 60K four years in the future. Why would you do that when you could just drop it in a bank and accrue interest, heck that's why you get interest from a bank, because presumably you're loaning money to them, even though you're generally sure to be able to get it back.

Education should be a national right and pride (2, Insightful)

Morgaine (4316) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789373)

"Makes one long for the good-old-days of 3% student loans, doesn't it?"

No it doesn't.

A civilized nation should provide free education to the highest level each person wishes to attain, because that's part of believing that the nation's most most important resource is its people.

But when a government just wants dumb consumers, then it's a very different matter.

Re:Education should be a national right and pride (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789451)

You forgot:

Furthermore, during and after their enrollment at the university, students should be entitled to download any and all the copyrighted works they might want to consume at their leisure, at no cost to themselves. After all, said copyright works were produced by men and women "standing on the shoulders of giants", so they really ought to be considered part of our common cultural heritage.

Hey, this is starting to get pretty good! Maybe someone else can draft the 6-figure job placement rights for university grads.

Re:Education should be a national right and pride (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789467)

A civilized nation should provide free education to the highest level each person wishes to attain, because that's part of believing that the nation's most most important resource is its people.

But when a government just wants dumb consumers, then it's a very different matter.

Why should it be free and open?

Certainly it's not in the best interests of these institutions, nor in the interests of people who actually are committed to getting an education, for all students to get in free of tuition and admission selection requirements. As such a thing massively dilutes the quality of the institution, and the quality of the education that is available.

What's wrong with students having to work to earn money to obtain the education they feel they want? And to earn the money for room and board..

Keep in mind, even when a university education is not free there are a lot of people who go to school, not because they really have a commitment in getting an education, but because they think they will earn more money with a college degree, because statistics tell them they will.

Re:Education should be a national right and pride (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789613)

> What's wrong with students having to work to earn money to obtain the education they feel they want? And to earn the money for room and board..

Because the point is to get an education. Not to work some dead end job. That time is much better spent learning more, taking more courses, understanding what you're doing more deeply. So that once you graduate you can make much more money, be more productive, start a company, etc.

The fact that education isn't free is absolutely insane, it's probably the most economically inefficient thing that society can screw up.

Australia has it right (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29789399)

In Australia, if you're a citizen or permanent resident, the government will subsidise a large portion of your undergraduate tuition fee. The remainder is paid by the student, but the student can pay for the remaining amount with a government loan (a HELP fee).

Interest is not charged on the loan, and you essentially have an indefinite repayment schedule. You begin paying 6% of your salary towards that debt once it passes some threshold ($37,000 AU if I recall correctly). The only thing they do is apply indexation each year so that inflation doesn't devalue repayments.

Post-graduate students are required to pay their tuition up front each semester in full, though again, if you're a citizen or a permanent resident, you get a big subsidy in cost.

I can't understand why the US government would saddle undergraduates with that much debt before they've even had a chance to start making a living. If there's one thing a large chunk of government money SHOULD be spent subsidising, it's education.

I'm sorry, but you guys are really screwed up in some ways.

Reform is needed. (2, Insightful)

Criton (605617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789407)

The rules on college loans does need reform and the interest rates should be reduced. Plus the cost of higher education needs to be reigned in to levels that are affordable to the middle class.

Nothing like starting life $100K in the hole (3, Interesting)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789425)

The government has bailed out homeowners. It's bailed out big businesses. Why can't it also help students?'

To me this is a tragedy. Young people starting off almost $100K in the hole. I had student loans, so did my wife. Together they didn't add up to $40K and she went to grad school.

On a higher level this kills entrepreneurial opportunities at the time in life you have the most desire, creativity and energy to launch a new business. Many of you are stuck in low-paying, dead end jobs because of student loans...one of the reasons some companies like to hire right out of college. Student loans and health insurance. Wouldn't it be better to turn all that creativity loose developing new businesses and jobs? But how can you saddled with all that debt and no health care coverage?

We have to do something, not just for people in college now but those recently graduating into 9.5% unemployment. Whatever that is, it has to include cost controls on education. The cost of education is running way ahead of inflation and textbook companies are worse than the mafia (at least the mob runs prostitutes). This is crazy.

But what to do about it? If the government tried some kind of forgiveness program, Republicans would scream about budget deficits. Student loans are also a giant bank pork program and you can see what kind clout they have in Washington. So, it's got to be paid for somehow, deficit neutral, combined with cost controls on education and everyone on both sides of the political pork barrel have to STFU long enough to get it done.

Should have grown up in communist North Dakota (1, Flamebait)

smchris (464899) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789435)

The state has its own bank to offer residents low interest loans for socially useful things like student loans.

But it's basically Reaganomics. The theory goes that education shouldn't be supported because I guess it isn't really a social good and colleges should be run like businesses. So thank Neocon libertarianism for your loan payments. To do a "back in my day" may be annoying but it can also be enlightening. I remember something like $7.50 per undergraduate state college quarter credit. 48 in a typical three quarter year for a cool $360/year tuition. Sure, I was making $1.5/hour on my first summer job hammering together harrow weeder belts on a night shift factory job and that was considered a good high school wage so let's say $1/hour was more typical. Up that to $7.50 today and multiple by $360 and you should be paying something like $2,700/year for tuition at a four-year state college. Thank Reaganomics and "running colleges like a business" for your difference.

Re:Should have grown up in communist North Dakota (0, Troll)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789569)

"Neocon libertarianism"

At least the libertarian support your right to smoke what you've been smoking. It seems to be good shit based on the crazy shit you're coming up with.

P.S. I do not want to pay for your children college, FUCK OFF THIEF.

In Australia ... (15 years ago anyway) (1)

balzi (244602) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789437)

When I studied all of my fees were compiled into a thing called a HECS debt which i didnt have to pay off until my annaul salary passed a threshold.
The balance of hte loan and the threshold both went up with the CPI. But no interest was ever applied (yes, CPI acted like interest).
I never paid it off until about 3-4 years later when we salary went above 29,000.

I do think the guys got no right to gripe for himself. *but* when he started the course, perhaps the standard homeloan rate was about 8.5%.
In any case, the gov't should be making it easier for students to study, not making money off them for the privelege. Any capitalist can see that to make a good return you should be encouraging the young'uns to get the highest qualification they can, which has some bearing on their eventual tax output. Interest on the loans is a turnoff!

P.S Should note to those who are talking about tax dodges with student loans - I don't know the US system - but I also got a 15% bonus for any lump sums paid off my HECS debt over and above the mandatory payments. Makes my experience lightyears ahead of this guys plight.

Re:In Australia ... (15 years ago anyway) (1)

balzi (244602) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789493)

sorry - should have said "I never started paying it off until 3-4 years later... " (no edit it Slashworld)

Maybe (1)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789449)

Maybe if high school and college students spent as much time working on congressional campaigns as retirees, the laws would be a bit different.

College student; Please help. Won't work for food (2, Informative)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789469)

'The rate for a 30-year mortgage is around 5%,' Lee said. 'Why should anyone have to pay 8.5%? The government has bailed out homeowners. It's bailed out big businesses. Why can't it also help students?'

Angry? You just got a "free" education, dummy. Sure, you have to pay the money back, but you didn't have to work and go to school intermittently for 10+ years hoping that you can finish your first degree before your credits are too old to apply. Your 401k/403b/457b/whatever will also have a 5-6 year head start, which will be amazing. College students from every previous generation have had a reputation for being poor. The subject of this post is a joke from a while back. Same as "Can you spare a dime? Working my way through med school."

This is the real reason why US is losing its ... (1)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789483)

standing in the world. It refuses to INVEST in future generations as a country, and instead only lets the monied class educate themselves. Thus the US becomes progressively stupider until the state you find it in now. Its only going to get worse guys, because of your shitty "me first" rather than "we first" philosophies and government policies. Unless you start putting education first, you're going to find yourselves turning into a 2nd world country.

All Bush's fault (0)

couch_warrior (718752) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789495)

High student loan interest rates are the result of Bush administration tinkering to increase the profit of lenders. If you believe religiously that corporate profits are the highest moral good possible, there's no end to the suffering you're willing to inflict on regular citizens in order to raise those profits. Bush promoted and signed bills raising student loans from ~2.5% to over 8% in some cases. It's that good-old "loot and pillage" economic theory. If you're a Republican over 50 years old, you don't give a d@mn about the future, as long as you wallet is swelling today....

I wonder why you're not considered credit-worthy? (4, Informative)

Xcott Craver (615642) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789535)

Maybe it's because you're borrowing over 80,000 dollars for a college education.

5 minutes with a spreadsheet would tell you how much and for how long you have just screwed yourself, and by borrowing that kind of money you prove that you can't or won't spend even that much effort to think before borrowing.

I think part of the problem is cultural: I was broke back when I went to college, and I needed loans; but I also knew that you should never borrow anywhere near enough to pay your whole tuition bill. That's far too much money to borrow even if you aren't dead broke. Poverty forces you into indebtedness, but it also makes you paranoid about accumulated debt, and you understand that something that costs tens of thousands of dollars will require you to eat Ramen, work multiple jobs, and make affordable choices even if someone will extend you credit.

But now I hear horror stories about students who borrow enough money to buy a house in much of the USA, and use that to pay for an entire four-year degree plus graduate school. It's like the kids don't understand that they're poor; they get a credit line and stop acting like people who have to work for a living.

We've taught them well haven't we? (2, Insightful)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789571)

"The government has bailed out homeowners. It's bailed out big businesses. Why can't it also help students?"

Why not, indeed?

Besides the fact that we have no money left, didn't before we started, and have been borrowing all of this, why not help the students?

Well, will someone else please tell them? I'm tired of it. Thanks.

ps - My wife and I paid off her student loans. She had a higher interest rate.

pps - No one is bailing me out of my mortgage on my home which is worth about half what I paid for it in 2005. I owe about %60,000 more than it is worth right now. My property taxes have not gone down a penny, cause everyone else around here is in the same boat. I can't afford to go back to college right now... Loans or not.

ppps - We are not doing a great job of bailing out big business. I work for one, and took a 15% pay cut in April. And I'm thankful to have my job still. Graduates should be thankful if they get a job at all before 2011.

We're teaching them well. Just the wrong lessons.

Current PLUS Rates - Up to 8.5% + 4% Upfront Fee (1)

theodp (442580) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789575)

PLUS loan rates were changed to fixed in July 2006 [ed.gov] , so those receiving loans disbursed from 1998-2006 enjoy the variable 3.28% rate, while those who started school in 2007 and later will be assessed a fixed 7.9%-8.5% rate (in addition to a 4% upfront fee).

I've read this before (1)

areusche (1297613) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789585)

I'm wondering if more students have been getting college loans and then leaving the country and changing citizenship. Basically you get a job abroad and renounce your citizenship and stop paying your loans. Cruel I know, but makes you wonder.

Student Loans are 0% in New Zealand. (1)

ZaphodHarkonnen (962799) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789593)

Well as long as you stay in the country. Thanks to the Ministry of Social Development we get loans straight from the government and after a year the loan gets passed off to the IRD to get repayed. The minimum rate of repayment is 10% of whatever you earn over an annual income threshold which at the moment is $19,084. So that is nice and automatic and if you want to you can pay back more. http://www.studylink.govt.nz/ [studylink.govt.nz]

Loans are an option not a requirement. (2, Insightful)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 4 years ago | (#29789605)

I worked my way through college.

It sucked. I didn't get to go ivy league (not a big problem since only a 1270 sat, 3.2gpa, and activities were computer club and D&D club).

Mainly, I didn't get to take a 4 to 5 year vacation. I studied 20 hours on top of 12 hours of classes on top of 40 to 55 hours a week of work.

But I graduated with no debt. It was my choice.

Students have the choice of going to public schools, or cheaper schools over seas, or on-line schools.

One of the reasons colleges have gotten so expensive is that children are willing to take on $200,000 debt to get a degree.

Look- if the professors were not making mid 100k incomes (yea, I know adjunct professors are poorly paid), if the universities were not funding research on the student's backs, if the university presidents were not making $350k!!! and if the universities JUST TAUGHT THE MATERIAL like they used to back in the 50's, then school wouldn't be so expensive.

Health care is super expensive for the same reason. People have shown that they *will* pay anything for it, so the providers have jacked up the bill.

You can get a good solid degree from a public university and graduate with little or no debt.

You can't get an idiot degree of course.

Given the work climate (that any INDIAN or CHINESE national can get a similar quality degree and take your job for $16,000 to $25,000 working in their companies for our corporations), you are an idiot to get a degree for something with that kind of exposure. At least get something that requires you be physically present, or that has national security implications.

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