Ever since our first report last year on student debts by state, policymakers in Iowa have been worried. What explains their high debt levels, second only to New Hampshire? Compared to the rest of the country, 27 percent more Iowans finish college with loans, and their average debt of $23,680 is 25 percent higher than the national figure.
Earlier this week, the Project on Student Debt's Robert Shireman and Matthew Reed presented an assessment of the Iowa situation to the Iowa legislature's Joint Government Oversight Committee. They blamed the state's soaring debt levels on inadequate need-based grant aid at both the community colleges and public universities, high tuition at the community colleges, and excessive use of private loans offered by a state-affiliated nonprofit.
Even if you're not from Iowa, the testimony provides a helpful overview of the current student loan landscape and a cautionary tale for other states, lenders, and institutions.
Taking the Offensive on Private Loans
Working with a coalition of student, consumer, and higher education associations, we have asked Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, to include reforms of private student loans in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. That legislation may be considered by the committee in the coming weeks, so your letters and emails today could really make a difference.
If your organization is interested in joining this group of signers, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
(This announcement was sent to the Project on Student Debt mailing list on Friday, November 2, 2007.)