WHAT OTHERS SAY: Drowning in debt, college graduates need a life jacket

Thursday, November 3, 2011 | 2:28 p.m. CDT; updated 4:04 p.m. CDT, Thursday, November 3, 2011

As tuition for higher education goes up by huge numbers, today's college students must be cringing at the thought of graduation day.

That's the day quickly followed by the beginning of the school loan payments. According to a report by the Project on Student Debt, loan totals are averaging more than $25,000. Add in the fact that job prospects are slimmer than ever, and it can't be a good feeling for graduates.

Congress isn't helping out, not with controlling tuition costs, leveling the economy or reducing joblessness. When President Barack Obama issued an executive order to indebted graduates, some Congress members squealed.

U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., House Education and Labor Committee chairman, said on "Fox & Friends" Monday that Obama shouldn't be bypassing Congress and that the loan relief is a mistake.

The U.S. Department of Education reports that borrowers are defaulting on student loans at the highest rate since 1997. Obama's plan would give students a chance to repay as they earn, and eventually they could reduce monthly payments by hundreds of dollars.

The goal would be to find a balance where students can afford higher education and find work for which they are trained. Colleges and universities must find ways to offer academic courses at affordable rates. And in the meantime, the White House is working to help the students who need it most.

In a perfect world, that would be the goal of all our elected leaders.

"We'd like the president to stop campaigning and come work with us to put Americans back to work," Kline said.

He's been trying to help put Americans back to work, Rep. Kline. Congress has stymied his attempts every step of the way. And, by the way, the newly minted college graduates would like you all to put them to work. That's what they went to college for in the first place.

Copyright Kansas City Star. Reprinted with permission.

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Jimmy Bearfield November 4, 2011 | 9:29 a.m.

"Obama's plan would give students a chance to repay as they earn, and eventually they could reduce monthly payments by hundreds of dollars."

For most, the savings will be less than $10/month:

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