Thousands of parents across the state have spent the past few weeks preparing to send their children off to college. For some students, the end of August signals a transition from high school and the beginning of a new chapter in life. For others, the return to campus brings them a step closer to achieving their educational goals and preparing for a successful career.
College costs and student debt have skyrocketed in alarming fashion during recent years. While new graduates go out into the world armed with a new degree, many are immediately saddled with crushing student loans and debt. This limits their ability to buy a home, purchase a vehicle, and adversely impacts their overall quality of life.
RISING COLLEGE COSTS SHOULD RAISE A RED FLAG
In 1980, the average cost of attending college for four years was roughly $56,000. By 2010, the cost had risen sharply to $82,000 – an increase of more than 50 percent. According to a recent report, today more than 40 million Americans carry $1 trillion in student debt. After mortgages, student loans are now the largest source of household debt – ahead of credit cards and auto loans.
It’s an alarming trend that must be addressed on the state and national levels. Democrats in Albany have proposed giving free college tuition to inmates serving time in state prisons. They have supported taxpayer-funded tuition assistance for illegal immigrants, but done nothing for home-grown students managing financial stress. While they’ve used the issue of college costs to make political statements, they haven’t tackled the real issue.
FIXING THE PROBLEM WITHOUT THE POLITICS
Assembly Republicans have recognized the growing issue of college debt and have taken meaningful steps to provide relief to families and students. I have introduced legislation that would create the Affordable College Education Scholarship (ACES) Program (A.2753). The measure would allow eligible students to earn a bachelor's degree from a state institution for a total cost of $10,000, at $2,500 per year.
In addition, Assembly Republicans have developed bills addressing the issue of student debt that would:
- make graduate programs eligible for approval under the Tuition Assistance Program (A.3051, Malliotakis);
- increase eligibility for TAP funding by raising the household income threshold from $80,000 to $100,000 (A.3049, Malliotakis); and
- increase over two years the maximum amount of TAP funding available to each student from $5,165 to $6,470 (A.5809, Lupinacci).
In the case of student debt, there seems to be no end in sight for this disturbing trend. Assembly Republicans will continue to seek remedies that benefit students getting a college education. New graduates should not be forced to start their next chapter in life with an uphill climb on a mountain of debt.
What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.