Letter: Middle-income families bear brunt of college costs
Re: The column in the Jan. 15 Detroit News, “Student debt dings taxpayers”: The op-ed on student loans made me reflect on my experience in having three of my children attend and graduate the most expensive public colleges in Michigan, University of Michigan and Michigan Tech.
The piece mentions that the student loans were set up as a benefit for privileged middle-class students. While it seem that in recent years the rates were changed to be a little more reasonable, when my kids first got involved with this program the rates charged were 6.8 percent.
This was at a time when interest rates for other loans were at historic lows.
It seems that either the government program was very inefficient or they were trying to make a substantial profit on loans to these privileged middle-class students who did not qualify for subsidies. It looks like in the last few years these rates have been adjusted to more closely reflect the current interest rate environment.
I would also like to comment on the notion expressed in the piece that middle-class students are somehow treated as privileged when it comes to paying for their education.
I would argue that in fact they are actually being soaked. If you read any of the annual tuition increase announcements from any of the public universities in Michigan, right after the description of the increase there is always a comment saying that to offset the effect of the increase there will be an increase in financial aid.
Since the privileged middle-class does not get any of this aid it means nothing to them.
The reality is in order find the extra financial aid money the size of the tuition increase is actually inflated to provide funding for the added financial aid for the less privileged.
Nobody ever mentions that the only group that the annual tuition increases have a significant impact on is the privileged middle-class students. They not only pay the increase but those increases are inflated to provide the additional financial aid.
The effect on the lower end of the income spectrum is mitigated by increases in financial aid and when compared to the income off the top 1 percent, the amount of their tuition increase is essentially a rounding error. This leaves the privileged middle class to try to figure out where to find the added money.