OPINION: Don’t Let Republicans Cut College Student Aid Programs

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A letter to the editor by Patrick R. Progar of Medford, NJ

As part of a continuing assault on the poor and middle class of this country, President Trump and his Education Secretary have proposed massive cuts to college student aid, at a time when college students are graduating with the highest rates of indebtedness in our history.

Most politicians would take the opportunity afforded by the strong economy to invest in our future, whether that is physical infrastructure such as roads and bridges or our intellectual infrastructure, our current and future college students. The Trump administration, aided by politicians such as Congressman Tom MacArthur from New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District, instead chose to give that money away to massive corporations and the wealthy, while they hope the rest of us are placated by an extra $10 or $20 per month in our paychecks.

How bad is this assault on college student aid? Even the Pentagon, an institution that President Trump claims to honor, has come out in opposition to the Republican plan. Part of the Republican plan is to terminate the Public Service Forgiveness Plan, which allows portions of student loans to be forgiven who serve in the military for a certain period of time, or other public service workers if they have reliably made student loan payments over that timeframe. The Pentagon believes the loan forgiveness program helps recruit and retain our military and my guess is they are probably correct.

On a more personal level, my daughter leaves for college in a few months. I hope she learns much, finds a career she is passionate about, and makes the world a better place. I also hope she graduates with as little debt as possible. I see too many young people I work with, fresh out of college or a graduate program, who take a position not based on how much they will enjoy the job or the potential for future growth with the organization but rather on the job that pays the most because they are so far in debt. These are people who teach our children, police our streets, fight fires, fix our broken bones, etc. Don’t let President Trump, Congressman MacArthur and others get away with this. If we can’t support college students now in a strong economy, what will we do during the next recession? Education is our future. Support our students!

Editor’s note: According to a major new economic study, the cancellation of student debt would unchain millions, with little consequence to our economy – including for those who profit off this debt. Coupling this forgiveness with free college tuition would prevent the problem from occurring again.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this letter are the author’s only.

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