Elizabeth Warren: College Expenses Obscene

Dan Harkins

Sen. Elizabeth Warren makes a point of showing now pretty much everywhere she goes that she might never have been able to afford advanced education if she were born into one of today’s youngest generations.

In A Fighting Chance, Warren details her Oklahoma City start as the best debater in school, with college the only escape from a life of financial hardship. But college, she explains, where she finished up her teaching degree at the University of Houston, was $50 a semester, or some $218 a year when fees were factored in. Today, the same annual bill would be $10,272.

When Warren got her juris doctorate degree at Rutgers Law School in 1975 and 1976, it cost $840 a year, she recounts. Today, the bill would be more than $22,000.

Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Edvisors, told CNN that “you could literally work your way through school in the 1960s and 1970s. You can’t do that today.”

Warren called the generational disparity in student debt despicable at a recent conference:

“Instead of helping our students, the government is making a profit on student loans. That is wrong. It is morally wrong. That is obscene…. The government should not be making profits off the backs of our students. Period.”

Warren (D-Massachusetts) proposed a bill last year that would have offered student loan rates on the same par as short-term loans offered to America’s banks. That (whyohwhy!?) died in committee.

So Warren, who could easily be considered her state’s most prized political powerhouse, just came back with a new bill gaining a whole lot more traction. Warren’s already got President Barack Obama’s support for her plan to allow current student debt holders to consolidate those loans at reduced interest rates.

Of course, an added benefit could be the generation of new revenue from student loan repayments that have for years and years gone unpaid, despite the federal government earning $51 billion in interest profit off student loans this year alone.

A spokesperson for Obama confirmed to the Huffington Post that the president would “call for passage of the refinancing bill” sometime next week.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t face its detractors. Here’s how Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) weighs in: “This bill doesn’t make college more affordable, reduce the amount of money students will have to borrow or do anything about the lack of jobs grads face in the Obama economy.”

Yes. But perhaps it would start to.

[Image courtesy of Elizabeth Warren/Facebook]