LaPlata, Md. – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, hosted a roundtable with students, faculty and administrators at the College of Southern Maryland Monday, to discuss the growing cost of higher education. Student loan debt has ballooned to roughly $1 trillion, a sum larger than the amount of credit card debt held by Americans. At the same time, prices at public four-year institutions have risen more rapidly from 2012-13 than over either of the two preceding decades.
“All Marylanders – all Americans – deserve a fair shot at pursuing their dreams and succeeding in a field of their choice. We want more of our students to be able to attend outstanding colleges like the College of Southern Maryland. But our students are drowning in college loan debt. In Maryland, more than half of graduating students are borrowing to pay for their education. Nationwide, almost one-third of all undergraduate students rely on subsidized, federal Stafford loans. The fact that the United States Government is making money off of these already overburdened students is shameful. The federal government is earning an estimated $66 billion in profits from student loans originated between 2007 and 2012. This was never congressional intent, and it makes absolutely no sense.
“We cannot afford to make higher education prohibitively expensive for most Americans if we want America to continue to be a world leader in commerce, security, or any area. We must think differently, allowing for a finance system that puts education ahead of profits and opportunities for learning ahead of absurdly high tuition payments. We need a new Higher Education Act that more accurately takes into account the cost to attend college and give students information they need to get the best value,” said Senator Cardin.
According to the College Board, “when room and board are included, total charges at public four-year institutions rose more rapidly” in the last decade – 2003-04 through 2013-14 – “than they did during either of the two preceding decades.” Many students are graduating with average debt in the range of $23,000 to $27,000 and have no job in sight to support that level of debt.