07/10/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Student Loans: A Step In the Right Direction

Thanks to the Democratic Congress, today the interest rates for federal student loans will decrease 0.8 percent.

What does this mean in the real lives of students? Though President Bush has no problem spending billions in Iraq, American students can barely scrape enough money together to go to college. With college costs having skyrocketed in recent years, the average college student now graduates with $21,600.* That's not the best way to send America's best and brightest into the world. Luckily, decreasing the interest rate on student loans is one of the many ways that Democratic leaders in Congress have addressed increasing college costs.

In addition to interest rates, students will now be permitted to borrow an additional $2,000 in unsubsidized federal student loans each year. Previously students could only borrow $3,500, but this year they can borrow up to $5,500. These federal loans typically have lower fees and interest rates than private loans.

It's important that the next administration places a high priority on addressing the needs of college students who are struggling to support themselves financially. Building a well-educated workforce that isn't burdened by excessive amounts of debt is part of building a strong economy.

Senator Obama and his family know this issue well. He and his wife often talk about how they were only recently able to pay back student loans. Thanks to two recent best sellers, the Obama family is now student debt free. If running for president and writing a best-selling book or two is the only way to pay off your student debt, things are not looking good for the rest of us.

It is imperative that we make higher education accessible in this country. Today's interest rate decrease is a start. And with Barack Obama in the White House, we'll have a president who truly understands the burdens of student loans, and we'll see even more progress.

* = For a student graduating from a public university in 2006. Source: Project on Student Debt.