Editorial: Applaud Drop In Student-loan Interest Rates

This story was written by Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan

College graduates may not be quite as shell-shocked by financial stress after receiving their degree thanks to a recent and significant drop in interest rates on student loans.

The lowered interest rates, which have dropped to 4.06 percent (the lowest in decades), are an attempt by the Bush administration, according to Secretary of Education Rod Paige, to "help students and their families finance college and career training."

The drop in interest rates is also an ideal way to encourage people to get a college education. What better way to persuade students that a college education is the way to go than to make interest rates more fair and affordable so that, along with finding a job and buying a home, college graduates don't also have to deal with paying back loans that have accumulated interest almost as costly as the original loans themselves. Falling interest rates just might be what seals the deal for many high-school graduates: the federal government ushers students off to college, and in return, students are offered a more affordable education. And we say anything that makes college more affordable and more appealing to students is a step in the right direction, not just for the education process but for a nation in need of more teachers, doctors, researchers, and engineers.

A report last year from the Career College Association states that one of the top reasons high-school graduates choose not to attend college is that they simply cannot afford it. Cost is also a reason many college students choose to quit school and opt out of college altogether. In a study, Campus Progress found that between 2001 and 2010, an estimated 2 million academically qualified students won't be able to go to college because they can't afford it. And for those students who do choose to attend college: The average college senior is expected to graduate with at least $3,200 in credit-card debt alongside $18,900 in student loans. Add accumulated loan interest to this equation, and student debt becomes even higher.

To think that there are students - future doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, and artists - who will choose alternatives to a college education simply because the cost of this education is too high is saddening.

To think that cost discourages students from having what great leaders such as Nelson Mandela have coined "the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world" is a cause for great concern, not just for potential students but for a society that needs these professionals to advance.

The federal government should be applauded for its efforts to make a college education more affordable to all students, in any way possible. Though there will always be more that can be done to open the doors to a college education for every single student, lowering interest rates is a good first step in making education more affordable for those who wish to pursue a higher education.