The June 16 editorial “A smarter way ” made one reference to graduate-student borrowers, noting that lawmakers should reduce incentives to graduate students to take out “excessive” loans. However, the editorial failed to acknowledge two important factors. First, graduate students are not a single, homogenous group. They instead encompass master’s, doctoral and professional students pursuing distinct education and career goals. Second, fewer than 1 in 20 master’s and doctoral students have borrowed six-figure amounts for their graduate education.
The student loan policy debate should not be focused on a small subset of graduate students. Instead, it should address the question of how to make federal student loans work for the majority of them.
The editorial also supported the expansion of Pell Grants. In 2011-12, 1 of every 5 master’s degree students was a former Pell recipient who earned a bachelor’s degree before exhausting the maximum 12 semesters of Pell eligibility. Why not let these high-achieving students apply the remaining semesters toward their master’s degrees? As a result they would borrow less. Federal student assistance policies should support the educational attainment of all students to achieve their full potential.
Debra W. Stewart, Washington
The writer is president of the Council of Graduate Schools.