Tennessean: Lamar Alexander fights remake of college student loan system

Posted on March 17, 2010

WASHINGTON — Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander,
who is a former U.S. Secretary of Education and
University of Tennessee president, is helping lead a
renewed Republican campaign to oppose legislation
to remake the college student loan
system.

The House passed the legislation last fall to shift all
student loans from the private sector to federal
control and use the
savings for education
programs, including more Pell Grants for low-i
ncome students. The issue re-emerged this week
because Democratic congressional leaders are
attempting to include student loan reform in the
health-care reform legislation.

Alexander decried the proposal Tuesday as another
government takeover that would deny choices for
students seeking loans and eliminate more than
30,000 private sector jobs. He said the loans for
millions of students would be handled through four
call centers, "making the process of getting their
loans about as friendly as going to the Department
of Motor
Vehicles for a driver's license."

He said the interest rates charged students under
the legislation would be artificially high to pay for
other
education programs. Instead, Alexander said
students should be given lower rates.

He said reducing the interest rates established by
the legislation by 1.5 percentage points would
save
the average borrower more than $2,000 over 10 years.

Alexander is the third-ranking Republican in the
Senate and a member of the Senate Committee on
Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.