Saturday, December 16, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Easing the burden of student loan debt

The hefty burden of student debt was eased slightly this week when President Barack Obama issued an executive order that establishes a more realistic timeline for repaying federal loans. That will enable at least 5 million people to cap their student loan payments at 10 percent of their income. This is a welcome move by the executive branch to aid young adults as they settle into the workforce. A more gradual repayment of student loans should help recent graduates whose payments are so large they make it difficult to change jobs, buy homes or start families.

The executive order expands the Pay-as-You-Earn program, which has applied only to loans taken out in the last several years. Now, this sliding scale payment option also will apply to students with loans issued before October 2007 or who have not borrowed since October 2011.

Graduating with significant debt has become nearly unavoidable for most college students. Currently, 71 percent of those earning a bachelor's degree graduate with debt, which averages $29,400. In Florida, the average student loan debt is below the national average, at $22,873. And with a stagnant economy and dim job prospects, the task of repaying student loans becomes more difficult each year.

Obama also announced that the Education Department will renegotiate its contracts with loan providers to provide financial incentives for borrowers who pay their loans on time; cap interest rates at 6 percent for active-duty service members; and work with private loan providers Intuit Inc. and H&R Block to supply information about repayment options to better educate borrowers.

These actions are encouraging, but more can be done to relieve the financial pressures many students face. The Senate, for example, is considering legislation that could help an estimated 25 million Americans refinance outstanding student loans at lower interest rates that would be the same as those available to borrowers taking out federal loans this year.

A college education remains the smartest investment in the future and pays off in higher earnings potential in the long run. But that potential success is diminished if the degree requires taking on so much debt that it limits opportunities for young Americans to pursue careers and invest in their communities for years after they graduate. A more gradual loan repayment schedule and more reasonable interest rates are steps in the right direction.

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Editorial: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

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Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

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Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

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Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

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Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17