Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | JUNE 18, 2013 5:00 AM

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Stop the loan interest-rate hike

For most college students, loans are a fact of life. Skyrocketing tuition costs have made borrowing money a necessity for many to afford their education. In fact, 72 percent of Iowa’s college students take out student loans and hold an average of more than $22,000 in loan debt at graduation.

Students with the greatest financial need are eligible for subsidized Stafford Loans, providing some relief to those who need it most. But the interest rate on these loans is set to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1. If Congress fails to prevent this change, the financial burden of a college education will significantly increase for the students who can least afford it.

This interest-rate hike will cost Iowa students alone more than $200 million. That’s $200 million that future graduates won’t have in their pockets to place a down payment on a house or a car right here in Iowa. Instead, they’ll have to write bigger checks to Washington to pay off their loans.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve faced this problem. Last summer, this same interest rate faced the same potential increase until Congress passed a temporary one-year freeze. It’s time to stop passing the buck and develop a real solution. Congress must work toward a student-centered, permanent approach to student-loan reform.

We, the 12 student body presidents at colleges and universities across Iowa representing more than 150,000 Iowa college students, need your help to get Congress to act. Call your representatives in Congress, and ask them to create a lasting, comprehensive solution to this problem that works for Iowa’s students by preventing rates from doubling on July 1. Together, let’s make an investment in Iowa’s future.

Spencer Hughes
Iowa State University

Paul Esker
Luther College

Save Head Start

We need to ensure that Head Start program is receiving its entire funding if not more.  Head Start is a key government-funded program. It is  not only a resource for families to send their children for childcare, it is also a place for the children to receive health care, nutrition, and a leg of support for parents to thrive while offering family-support classes and counseling.

Many essential elements that constitute early childhood education have been introduced by Head Start.  Things such as federally funded home visits, Child Development Associate  credentials, and shedding a light on the importance of infant and toddler development. In addition, the program served 967,793 at-risk children in 2012.

Recently, President Obama proposed building a new national early learning system that could be a potential threat to the Head Start program, diverting funds to new programs that are not as high quality when it comes to education and do not place as much emphasis and the family.

Head Start can provide the highest quality of early learning and intervention programs to at-risk families and programs across the nation. Head Start is a good way to help get children who aren’t school ready, because of different circumstances, somewhat adapted to a schedule and a school setting. This is an important aspect of why Head Start programs are so popular.

Please make sure that the Head Start program continues to thrive and even has the potential to reach more families by leading them and their children to successful futures.

Johanna Yang

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