I was encouraged and grateful to read about U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu’s efforts to double down on college affordability through her Passport to the Middle Class Initiative mentioned in Greg Roberts’ column in the June 15 edition of The Advocate. During my time in college and later in law school, I accumulated more than $70,000 in loans. Although I am paying them off, the interest has swollen my balance to well over $80,000. While these loans are proving to be a smart investment in my future, the increasing interest rates continue to make long-term decisions, like purchasing a new car, buying a house or starting a family, much more difficult than they should be. Landrieu’s initiative would increase and expand Pell Grant awards and allow student loan borrowers like me to refinance their loans at current low rates.
When this bill passes, I could save thousands on my loans. Landrieu’s bill not only helps students with current student loan debt, but it also helps future students through the Middle Class CHANCE Act that expands the opportunity of Pell grants.
Louisiana has cut higher education budget more than any other state in the country since 2008 — more than $700 million. As a graduate of two public institutions in this state, it’s personally disheartening when decisions like this are made for our future leaders, educators, attorneys or business owners. But, with the hope and leadership of Landrieu, it’s clear that there is a path forward for students and young professionals like myself to pursue promising opportunities for ourselves and for Louisiana.