EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

June 13, 2014

Letter: Focus on basics to cut education costs

To the editor:

Back in the days of Seabrook nuclear plant’s building we became familiar with the idea of CWIP — construction-work-in-progress — charges. I still keep an old Gov. Gallen election sign that’s pro-Gallen and anti-CWIP. Utilities wanted to expand by building expensive plants and getting construction money through rates charged to consumers.

There could be no end in sight with this financing plan. It’s wonderful for the utility, but very tough on the consumers who do need electricity and so are captive.

Now I wonder if so outrageously high student debt is not a failure of similar financial-planning thinking. Our higher educational institutions, competing for students as businesses do for customers, expand their campus extras that let them compete. Students pay higher tuition and higher and higher fees to cover the campus’ costs. Students and their families are captive, because numbers show that adult financial security is more likely with a college degree.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s new student loan bill that allows people to refinance their student loans at a low rate, an option currently denied to most borrowers by federal rules, would help to alleviate the problem. We should encourage our Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte and our Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen to sign the bill.

New Hampshire students are among the most indebted in the country. But in the long run we need affordable or free four-year degree institutions. Community colleges give the basics for two years without the alluring live-in options and promotions. Four-year institutions, especially public ones, should fix their business heads and renew their vows to provide an affordable education, cut back on showy extras that get put in place and then need maintenance just as a more-than-basic house does!

Lynn Rudmin Chong

Sanbornton

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