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I recently read Rep. Brett Guthrie’s explanation for voting against the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009, and I was very surprised by his statement that he feared it would be “a government takeover of the student loan industry,” The main crux of this piece of legislation was to end the subsidies to private student loan companies and send that money directly to the students. Sounds reasonable right? The bill would further increase the maximum awardable federal Pell grant to $6,900 from the current $5,350, and starting in 2011, it would rise in proportion to the Consumer Price Index plus 1 percent. This legislation also includes some vital investments in education with $10 billion going toward construction and work force training within community colleges and $8 billion toward the advancement of early-childhood programs. Now, I am a college student, and I know what it’s like to have to take out student loans to finance my education. Ask any student who’s had to borrow for their education which is better, a private loan or a federal direct loan, and I can almost guarantee you that a majority heavily prefer the latter. And why shouldn’t they? Because most of us young people have little to no credit, we’re faced with an outrageous private loan interest rate of upwards of 14% or a federal direct loan interest rate of 6.8%. It’s simple economics. Guthrie in his op-ed stated that “students who need federal student loans are not well served by H.R. 3321. They lose choice and service, while they watch spending and the national debt swell.” As a college student, I would rather my government stop sending so much money to private lenders and rather it go directly to us. And furthermore, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that ending subsidies to private lenders and having the government handle all federal loans would actually save taxpayers an estimated $87 billion. So, seeing as how the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009 actually lives up to its title by further helping college students and saving the government money, it’s really hard to imagine why our Congressman, who sits on the House Education and Labor Committee, decided to vote against the interests of both fiscal restraint and college students everywhere. My generation will be the next generation of leaders and teachers, of businessmen and thinkers, of innovators and engineers. But we need help now so we can become those things later. Who will speak for us in Washington if not our own leaders? If Congressman Guthrie won’t stand up for the future of our country and our state, then perhaps come next election all of us should reevaluate why he’s our Congressman to begin with.
Austin Redmon is a college student from Bagdad.