December 7, 2013

Our View: Student debt holding back young Mainers

Both state and federal governments could help ease the burden on recent college graduates.

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But Katz’s bill also will shine a light on Maine’s student debt problem. Solutions should include budgetary support for the UMaine system, in order to head off tuition increases, as well as greater coordination between the state’s community colleges and its four-year institutions, so that students starting out at the cheaper two-year schools can more easily transfer without having to repeat courses.

At the federal level, more information about each school’s student debt level and post-graduation employment prospects should be collected and contextualized. That is part of a plan by President Obama to highlight schools that keep costs and student debt down, a valuable tool for students and parents.

More work also has to be done to provide information about school-funding options. Too many students take out private loans even before they’ve exhausted their opportunities in the public loan market.

Tuition costs have tripled in the last 30 years, even when considering for inflation. At the same time, wages have remained stagnant. That is unsustainable if this state, and this country, are going to rebuild the economy with education as its building blocks.

This issue must be addressed before an entire generation is set back just when it should be moving forward.

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