There will be seven Democratic names on the Tuesday, Oct. 15 ballot. They are Sen. William Brownsberger, Sen. Katherine Clark, Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, Martin Long, Paul Maisano, Rep. Carl Sciortino and Sen. Karen Spilka.
Patch asked each of the candidates a series of questions. The answers to those questions will be published now through Sunday, Oct. 13. Long did not respond to Patch's request.
Today's report focuses on the cost of a college education.
To attend an in-state public college for the 2012–2013 academic year averaged $22,261 and to attend a private college averaged $43,289, according to the latest survey by the College Board.
Patch asked: "There's been a lot of discussion about the cost of a college education. President Obama has proposed a ranking system tying student loan rates and payments to the job placement and salary rates of graduates compared to a school's total cost. Is this a proposal that works for the fifth district, which has a significant number of colleges and universities?"
Spilka: "The 5th district is home to some of the finest college and universities in the nation and the world. Undoubtedly, any nuanced assessment method will result in rankings that showcase the strengths of these institutions. However, simply looking at "job placement" and salary is too simplistic. For example, we want to encourage graduate education in many fields, which could skew job placement numbers and the innovation based economy of the 5th district thrives on basic scientific research - not an endeavor that is adequately measured by looking at salaries. I propose that we review the entire program of federal aid to college students. I would like to see more grant aid through an expanded Pell grant program and zero interest student loans."
Sciortino: "I am in favor of Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to make student loan rates the same as the rates Wall Street Banks can lend at."
Maisano: "Student loan repayment should start after one year from graduation. The rate should be at 1% for the first three years including the first year which goes unpaid. The subsequent years shall increase at 1% every three years. Unless the student is unemployed, has an illness, or reenters school. A program should exist where if a student is unable to find work they can receive annual credit toward their debt, including principal, by working within a charitable organization, a state or federal agency form of internship, or international service of equal status."
Koutoujian: "We have world-class educational institutions right in our own backyards, as well as across the country.
But a college education is becoming financially out of reach except for the wealthiest Americans.
A recent Wells Fargo study produced a startling statistic: nearly 1 out of every 3 college graduates surveyed wished they bypassed college and instead went into the working world after high school.
That statistic should be a real wake up call for policymakers, and the Obama Administration. We need to look at this issue from all sides in an effort to reverse this trend. Our economy, but more importantly, our children’s future depends on how we solve this problem.
The President’s proposal will be part of a broad discussion looking at all sides of this issue. Making colleges and universities answer for rising tuition costs is appropriate. But Congress should also revisit the issue of rates for student loans next year when the Higher Education bill is up for reauthorization. Republicans in Congress short-changed students as interest rates for subsidized federal student loans previously set at 3.4% expired. With outstanding loans topping $1 trillion for the first time, Congress’s inaction on this critical issue caused rates to double to 6.8%, affecting seven million students who will applied for loans this fall.
Lawmakers should concentrate their efforts on establishing a fixed interest rate for all students, so that the market doesn’t decide winners and losers based on the year you go to college. By establishing a fixed rate for students, they and their parents can make better financial decisions, while lowering the cost of borrowing and helping to address the increasing rate of delinquencies.
Our economy is becoming more and more knowledge-based, and we need to give the next generation the tools to succeed in this new economy. We must do all we can to ensure that a great education is not out of reach for any American because it is inextricably linked to our country’s future prosperity."
Clark: "The research clearly demonstrates that young people who obtain college degrees have higher incomes and better job prospects for the rest of their lives. But college needs to be more affordable for families and our students, with rates on Pell Grants and other student loans kept to a minimum. I want all three of my sons to go to college. But like any mother, I want to see college tuition prices and student loan rates that don’t sink our families and leave our children debt-ridden for years to come. There is no excuse for Congress failing to act as student loan rates doubled for millions of young Americans earlier this year.
I believe we also need to take steps to keep the costs of future higher education at reasonable levels. One concern about the current ranking system that has been raised by academic leaders in this Congressional district is that we have to avoid judging the worth of a college or university by future salaries alone and use a comprehensive assessment. For example, we don’t want to cast a college aimed at training teachers as not being a good consumer value primarily because starting salaries for teachers are low.
I need to see additional data on President Obama’s proposal and the anticipated effects on our universities and our students, particularly on our state higher education system and community colleges."
Brownsberger: "Reducing the cost of higher education will be a top priority of mine. The President’s recently announced initiative to cut the cost of higher education will, if fully implemented through Congress, create strong financial incentives for educational change. I support the initiative and, as a member of Congress, I will be an advocate for continued progress along the lines that the President has outlined.
Today, children worry desperately about which institution will accept them. Children and parents together worry desperately about how they will pay the institutions. My wife and I are now more than half way through putting our three daughters through college. We didn’t challenge the premise. We sold our house to help make things work. Hopefully, parents and children in the future won’t have to make the same tough choices.
The successful educational institutions of the future will help students connect to the learning experiences that they need at their own pace in the most cost-effective ways possible. The greater flexibility in curriculum choice afforded by broadly available online courses will allow students at every age to identify learning experiences that connect them directly to employment opportunities in the market place. Of equal importance, all citizens will be ever more able to continue the life-long learning that allows them to appreciate the world and participate in democracy in a more informed way.
The President’s initiative hits exactly the right note in recognizing that we don’t fully understand the exact ways that new technology is going to change education. The document mentions a number of innovations and states:“[T]he President is challenging colleges and other higher education leaders to adopt one or more of these promising practices that we know offer breakthroughs on cost, quality, or both – or create something better themselves . . ..”
The President’s push for higher value will no doubt meet substantial resistance from institutions concerned that the new transparency will put them in an unfavorable light or disadvantage them financially. Undoubtedly, any new measurement approach will create the possibility of unfairness and may encourage unanticipated behaviors. We need to move forward with care and sensitivity."