There’s a fine line between a groundbreaking achievement and a convenient decision, assuming one exists at all. Among the variables, aside from the actual matter itself, are the immediate payoff for the decision makers, the resulting interests for the parties involved and the ripples stemming from the event.
Individually, the details can appear enticing; collectively, you’d be surprised. So at first glance, Congress’ decision to maintain the current interest rate on student loans, or at least keep them from increasing dramatically, looks like something that should’ve been handled months ago. And as a headline, it’s the good idea the government makes in the nick of time in order to avoid a catastrophe, or the bipartisan cooperation in an era that’s seen most of them off to extinction.
Unfortunately, the good news isn’t the only news. The interest rates won’t double, but that will hardly be a factor if there’s nothing to increase. It can even be stipulated that Republicans and Democrats made it more expensive for students to get loans with this decision. The money you thought you’d saved will be spent before you’d have needed it. It’s an addition that makes most of the sleeker amendments to the process redundant. How, pray tell, can one worry about maintaining something they can’t accumulate to begin with? Worse still, the lucky few that do manage to sneak some cash no longer have the concurrent grace period of six months after graduation before their return payments. For them, the life begins immediately after graduation, ready or not.
In other words, they’ve screwed us. Despite checking the short term block, in addressing the ‘voice of the student’ in their decision, they’ve really only redirected the negative aspects of the original order through a filter, shifting the burden of the costs of education onto a different shoe. As it turns out, the foot belongs to the same target group. And while this country’s students are, irrefutably, the nation’s most valuable resource, they’re the most volatile and dependent — a simple passing of the hat regarding their education is a sure fire way of making them a commodity.
The congressional decision puts a long-ignored query on the main stage: is a temporary convenience the appropriate response to a long-term malady? History has demonstrated that it isn’t. There have been tests. It’s become something of a fact. Even still, our elect has continued to pander in their interactions with the nation’s student body and their wallets, and sooner than later, it’s a game they’re going to lose.
Because what has getting a college education become if not a competition? For the majority, it’s always been a struggle to get in, if not academically, then at least financially. The notion of actually being successful is something in and of itself. And last week, in eliminating one obstacle, we’ve created more. Unfortunately, it appears we’ve lost sight of an obvious point: we’re all on the same time.
Bryan Washington is a sociology sophomore and may be reached at email@example.com.