Speaking to a large crowd at the Hilo Woman’s Club this evening, 2ndCongressional District Candidate Bob Marx addressed a variety of issues including Jobs and the Economy, GMO-Labeling, and Education.
On education, Mr. Marx responded to the first question of a young woman in the audience who asked about the burden of her student loans: “New college graduates begin their careers with an average of $35,000 in student loan debt, in addition to any family repayment obligations or credit card debt they may have incurred. They face unemployment rates in the low teens, and most federally-backed student loans, like the popular Stafford program, come knocking on their doors immediately upon graduation and cannot be discharged or forgiven even through bankruptcy filing. And this Republican Congress is threatening to double the rates? That’s preposterous.”
“The near economic future for almost all college students will, unfortunately, be limited by the burden of the student loan repayment. How can we ask our kids and working families to put themselves through this?” Marx asked, rhetorically.
Mr. Marx explained that many of the new graduates today have education debt higher than the cost of a modest home: “That’s crazy,” he said, “the size of the debt has enormous future effects on the ability to get an affordable loan for a car to get to work or for a home to live in. To get a very low rate on a loan today, creditors look at one thing: debt-to-income ratio over an extended period. Are you good for it? They ask. Well, I think our young people and those who want to get back to work are good for it, and we should be there to help them out.”
Of course, it’s not just the college graduate who is getting hit. Many people on unemployment have seen their jobs evaporate and are left with unmarketable, less demanded skills that they once relied on for their livelihoods and well-being.
Marx responded, “If someone is out of work and has the drive to work, even in a new trade—like learning how to be a radiology lab tech, for example—then I think we, the same government and business that outsourced their last job to China or India, should be happy to contribute.”
For many young people, the overall cost of a college or university education can be managed or reduced by utilizing the Community College system for their lower division coursework and then transferring to a four-year College or University. Marx told the group, “I put myself through college working part-time and through Law School working full-time, so I know it can be done!”
When asked by a member of the audience if there was “a way out of the student-loan trap,” Marx said: “First of all, I don’t see it as a trap. True, for most, there is a financial obligation undertaken to get a higher education, and as with any large debt it may limit your future borrowing until it has been repaid. But the value of a four-year degree or a two-year certification program far outweighs the short-term burden. There is no greater investment an individual can make—or a country for that matter— than on education.”
Bob Marx restated his promise: “I will, as your Representative, work with every member of the Congress, regardless of ideology, to increase funding for and improve access to higher education and continual re-training for all Americans.”