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Rep. Virginia Foxx: I Have ‘Little Tolerance’ for Students Drowning in Debt [AUDIO]
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), the chairwoman of the Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee, said recently that she has “little tolerance” for Americans who graduate chained to thousands of dollars of student loan debt.
Appearing last week on the Gordon Liddy Radio Show, Foxx blasted student borrowers:
In her own words:
I have very little tolerance for people who tell me that they graduate with $200,000 of debt or even $80,000 of debt because there's no reason for that.…We live in an opportunity society and people are forgetting that. I remind folks all the time that the Declaration of Independence says 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.' You don't sit on your butt and have it dumped in your lap.
Beyond the troubling fact that an elected official is ignoring the serious issue of ballooning student loan debt (prompted, of course, by the rapidly increasing cost of tuition), it’s even more concerning that the committee Foxx chairs is overseeing a bill that could determine whether students with subsidized Stafford loans will see their interest rate double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent in July.
Foxx, who went to the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill in 1968, said she didn’t have to borrow money to pay for her education.
Perhaps the reason she didn’t need to is because, in 1961, her tuition for a semester would have been a mere $87.50. Add student fees to that tuition and Foxx would have only paid a total of $279 for a full year of college.
Adjusted for inflation, Foxx’s annual college costs would total about $2,140 today, or about the cost of a community college education, though these costs are also sharply rising.(The calculations come from The Quick & The Ed.)
In-state students at the University of North Carolina today pay $7,008 per year—three times what Foxx paid in the 1960s.
What’s more, Foxx attended UNC–Chapel Hill for seven years, and during her tenure there tuition and fees increased about 0.6 percent each year. Since 2005, UNC students have seen their average tuition and fees spike an average of 7.2 percent each year.
Foxx bases her argument on the assumption that young Americans today can pay for the costs of college if they simply work enough hours (or enough jobs). But the reality is that the economy isn’t working the same way it did in 1961. With higher tuition costs, a stagnant minimum wage, the unregulated private student lending industry, and mid-level job desserts, young Americans are simply not getting a fair shake at a stable future.
And the stakes could get even worse for nearly 8 million students who count on subsidized Stafford loans to help finance their education. If Congress doesn’t act, the interest rate on these loans will double to 6.8 percent on July 1.
Naima Ramos-Chapman is an associate editor at Campus Progress.
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