Practice English everyday with VOA Special English

Saturday, July 20, 2013 | Latest audio lessons → VOA Learning English

Congress Debates Interest Rates on Student Loans



From VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report. Lawmakers in Washington are debating education issues, including the interest rates that students pay for loans. College students who take loans graduate owing an average of $26,000. But some economists say the real issue is controlling the cost of college. Experts say these high costs are hurting the whole economy.

For the past 30 years, college tuition has been increasing at twice the rate of inflation. Universities say decreasing financial support from state governments forces them to charge higher tuition. On average, private colleges now charge more than $30,000 a year.

Terry Hartle is a spokesman for the American Council on Education, which represents thousands of colleges across the United States. He says funding for education has been shrinking for years. Experts worry that the high cost of education makes it less likely that good students from poor families can attend college. This means fewer scientists, engineers and others who could help increase economic growth. Also, a survey shows that some students concerned about repaying thousands of dollars in loans are delaying marriage and children. Many cannot afford to invest in a house or buy a car.

Georgetown University labor economist Anthony Carnevale says the current system cuts economic growth for the whole country. And the effects are important. He says meeting the demand for workers with higher education could add $500 billion to the American economy. A new government report says one-third of Americans age 25 to 29 now hold college degrees -- up from one-fourth in 1995.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Mario Ritter.