Hoping Students Won’t Do the Math

Student loan debt in the United States will top $1 trillion this year, with most college graduates leaving campus owing more than the price of a good new car.

Yet President Barack Obama wants young people to believe he is making college more affordable by encouraging them, in effect, to take on bigger loans.

About 73 percent of graduates of four-year colleges and universities in West Virginia have to take out loans to attend school. When they leave, their average debt is $23,678.

In Ohio, about 68 percent of students need loans. Their repayment burden averages $27,713.

Obama was making the rounds of college campuses this week, attempting to whip up enthusiasm for his re-election among young people. His message was that a scheduled increase in student loan interest rates, from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, should be prevented.

The president is assuming his listeners flunked basic math. Based on the White House’s own figures, the average cost of the interest rate increase would be only about $8 a month for student borrowers.

Instead of playing the old smoke-and-mirrors game, Obama should be encouraging institutions of higher learning to hold down tuitions and fees.