NEW YORK (MainStreet)With the clock running out on the congressional summer session, a group of education and student leaders asked the Senate to discard a short-term cap on interest rates in favor of long term reductions in cost that would make higher education more affordable.
In a joint letter, leaders of the six organizations told the Senate that "students should not be seen as a cash cow" in the continuing debate over student loan interest ratesrates that are seen as a significant source of revenue for the Department of Education. In March, the Congressional Budget Office found that the government will save $61 billion through the Direct Student Loan program, which has prevented banks from collecting fees from federal loans since 2010.
In the letter, addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader McConnell (R-Ky.), the group - which includes the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the Educational Trust, the U.S. PIRG and the United States Student Association - discusses why many long-term proposals being considered would leave students worse off than if Congress did nothing at all.
Hyperbole aside, the group hit on a prevailing theme. "While the economy demands that more and more Americans get a post-secondary degree or credential, a college education has become less and less affordable. What the country needs now is leadership to reduce the actual costs of higher education, not make it more expensive." Spokespersons for senators Reid and McConnell could not be reached for comment.