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Letter: The trouble with high student debt

Reader letters to Newsday for Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Darren415

Where is the responsibility of parents and students in the debate over student debt [“Bill to cancel student debt,” News, June 25]?

The student chooses to attend a school and parents let him or her, sometimes turning down less-costly options at other colleges. Students have to be accountable for their choices and the impact high debt will have on their financial futures.

The need for increased financial assistance and the criteria for which one receives aid definitely need to be re-evaluated, especially in areas with high costs of living, but proposing that U.S. taxpayers take on the burden of absorbing student debt for a situation they did not create is irrational and inequitable at best.

Deborah Ward,

  West Babylon

Why haven’t the tuition and administrative costs at private colleges and universities come under heavy scrutiny? In the past year, my family has toured a dozen fine mid-Atlantic and Northeast schools. Many charge $70,000 to $75,000 a year for full tuition, room and board. Yes, they present numbers to show that average aid and grant packages discount that heavily, but still what would nearly $300,000 buy you?

If banking or insurance industry underwriters assessed a student’s ability to repay this amount, I believe perhaps 5 percent of the loans would be issued. Instead, mostly the federal government and the parents are guarantors, so pretty much almost everyone gets a loan.

Until we see a proper reduction in tuition, maybe after some transparency shows the schools’ costs, salaries, benefits, etc., it’s likely we are allowing unnecessary profiteering and/or expenditures at the expense of future generations.

Getting a quality education is very important, but we must ask why the costs are what they are, what can be done to reduce them for all, and how we put value back into the equation.

Jim Mastrodomenico,

    Glen Head

I find it shocking that the government allows such high interest rates on student loans (4.53 percent for direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans, and upward from there on other loans).

If these loans had interest rates closer to the federal funds rate of between 2.25 and 2.5 percent, the burden would not be close to what it is now [“$1.6T student debt affecting economy,” Business, July 1].

There should be better debt counseling when the students are discussing loans, with charts showing the rates, the payoff time and the total amount eventually paid. We should keep loan interest as low as possible for the future of our country.

Pat Gangitano,

  Massapequa Park

Touched by bravery of Det. Luis Alvarez

On the morning of July 3, while leaving my work in Rockville Centre, a police officer asked whether I would mind waiting a few minutes in my car while Lincoln Avenue was closed.

One never knows when he or she will meet a hero. I had known that the wake for Luis Alvarez, an NYPD detective who died of injuries suffered as a 9/11 first responder, was not far from where I was parked. On this day, his funeral motorcade proceeded down Lincoln Avenue as New York City and the rest of the United States said goodbye and thanks to him [“A quiet man who was heard by many,” News, July 4]. I saw people standing with their hands over their hearts. As other drivers waited, I heard no radios nor saw anyone texting. Some wiped away a tear, as I did.

So thank you to all those who keep us safe every day in all law enforcement, including the NYPD, and our fire departments. Thanks to comedian Jon Stewart for never letting Det. Alvarez’s cause for more health funding for 9/11 victims get away. I thank Det. Alvarez, and I thank his family for sharing this amazing man with the rest of us.

Brian McEvoy,

  South Hempstead

Fund for clean water was not raided

The June 28 news story “Court to Suffolk: Return sewer fund money” said Suffolk County was sued over my “raid” of $29.4 million from the Drinking Water Protection Program when I was county executive.

There was no raid. Your story failed to explain that taxpayers had been overcharged, and I was returning money to them from reserve funds. Your story quoted the Pine Barrens Society as saying money in the sewer stabilization fund was for water protection. It wasn’t. Only one of the three components of Suffolk’s water program was for open space and enhancing water quality. No money was shifted from the clean water component.

A separate section was to ensure that taxpayers in sewer districts would be able to keep annual sewer increases under 3 percent. When I was told we had more than $100 million in excess revenue in this fund from sales tax deposits — even after reserves were set aside to stabilize rates for decades — a plan was developed with approval of many environmental groups to return some of the excess to taxpayers and to start cesspool upgrades or needed sewers. The excess was not needed to stabilize rates. So why not give it back to taxpayers in property tax relief and in building needed sewers?

Steve Levy,

   Bayport

Editor’s note: The writer was Suffolk County executive from 2004 through 2011.

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