The legend of Ouroboros is the perfect way to describe the student loan situation in America. Ouroboros in Greek mythology is a serpent that eats its own tail, which in the myth represents cyclicality. Forever doomed to do the same thing over and over without and kind of actual outcome.
A serpent eating itself to stay alive might seem to exist only in mythology, unless you examine our state and national problem with education and the student loan fiasco. If things do not change across America, students will be stuck in the same cycle: paying extraordinarily high fees to attend college, graduating into a low-paying job and facing a mountain of debt they may not be able to pay off in a lifetime.

Twenty million students attend college every year, and sixty percent of those students (about twelve million) take out loans to help pay for the cost of their schooling. The total debt of all these loans is an estimated $902 billion – $1 trillion. The average student graduates with about $25,000 of debt. Saddling the American student with this mountain of debt in our current economy sets her up for personal economic failure. She will not be able to compete in America, let alone the global economy.

In Europe, the pursuit of a bachelor’s degree is free. Europeans provide their citizens a chance to learn a trade or pursue a path towards an advanced degree without financially crippling the student. The country benefits from an educated workforce to fill businesses’ needs and a student who can contribute to the local economy without pushing every dollar they earn into the feeding of the student loan monster.
While “free’ may be a loaded worded for some, the business community in Europe understands that educated employees ultimately help their bottom line. An investment in people can also mean an investment in business. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Student loan reform in the United States must be a priority. It’s not about groaning students in a bad economy. It’s about the economy groaning under the weight of individual debt. We must restructure student loan interest rates to allow our citizens to graduate from school as contributors to local economies.

Senator Elizabeth Warren has introduced a measure that would allow for student loan refinancing. Her concept is simple: if people can refinance a home loan, then why can’t people refinance a student loan? The ability to refinance a student loan when market rates improve would cut the average loan payment in half, making repayment more manageable. Warren’s bill also stitches up tax loopholes used by big business to avoid paying some taxes. In this way, business would be accountable for paying the similar rates to those of middle and lower class families.
What is blocking Warren’s legislation is a Republican defiance to put people over politics and a lack of understanding about competing successfully in a global economy.

Helping our college graduates succeed is imperative to improving our economy. By putting student on the path to success, we put ourselves on the path to success. And if we don’t If things, then we’ll be just like Ouroboros, doomed to repeat the same cycle over and over.

Reposted from State Senator Curt Thompson’s blog (D-5th). He resides in Tucker, GA and is Chairman of the Special Judiciary Committee. Make sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus. His website is www.makingyourvoicecount.com

Posted by Sen. Curt Thompson

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