Ky. student loan debt 'crippling' a generation as tuition goes up, says Rep. Quarles

02/29/2012 08:53 AM

A generation of young Kentuckians with college degrees are having to delay major life decisions and start their careers in a financial hole because of rising tuition rates that have doubled the cost of a college degree over the last decade, said Rep. Ryan Quarles, R-Georgetown.

“I think we can do better,” Quarles said at 2:45 of the video. “Kentucky students leave, if they complete an undergraduate degree, on average with about $20,000 in student loan debt. Student loan debt for the first time in history … will exceed credit card debt.”

Quarles, a 28-year-old freshman legislator, served as the student representative on the Council on Postsecondary Education from 2005 to 2008. He said he is most concerned about the effect of tuition and student loans on his peers.

“For my generation, student loan debt is a crippling effect,” Quarles said (3:10). “I think it’s delaying first time home ownership … I think it’s delaying marriages. I think it’s delaying other critical life decisions that young people are putting off because they have to worry about a higher interest rate or a higher loan payment instead of worrying about a car payment or a mortgage.”

Still, Quarles said he understands the proposed 6.4 percent cuts to Kentucky public universities and colleges for the next biennium given the slow economic return from the recession.

Quarles started by addressing a question about whether the state needs tax reform in order to bring in a more reliable stream of income to the state to pay for programs like education:

“To be fair, whenever the state decides to spend less on higher education, I think the universities deserve to have more flexibility in terms of deciding their own fate,” Quarles said. (6:30)

Quarles also addressed his bill to add duties to a board of student leaders (7:30) and his take on the proposal for the University of Pikeville to be brought into the public university system (8:20).

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He is now pursuing an advanced degree in non-fiction writing from Murray State University and is a regular contributor to Pure Politics. Ryan has covered politics for more than 14 years, including seven years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Ryan can be reached at purepolitics@twcable.com or @mycn2 on Twitter.

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