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Letters

February 28, 2006



Most young people are able to manage their student-loan debt

Regarding her Feb. 16 Opinion piece, "Adjust the balance of debt and education," Anya Kamenetz is right: College-qualified students who can't afford college should be able to go. Somewhere between the abolition of financial aid and Ms. Kamenetz's solutions, which suggest college should be free for most, is a middle ground.

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Guaranteed loans have served the nation well since 1965. For millions of Americans, they've made the difference between getting a degree or not. Today, 6,000 schools and 10 million students rely on them. Moreover, the vast majority of student borrowers meet their obligations without undue hardship and repay their loans. Indeed, default rates are at historic lows.

Student loan debt is unmanageable for some, but for how many is unknown. The estimate cited by Kamenetz (which isn't the "student loan industry's") has been discredited. But through free financial literacy and debt management programs, student loan providers have helped thousands of borrowers manage their loans.

Lenders did not get off easy in recent budget cuts, despite the claims. Guaranteed loans are cut by $18 billion; one particular change cuts lender receipts by $15 billion. In this discussion, let's not lose sight of the facts. To do so divides natural allies and distracts us from achieving our common goals.
Kevin Bruns
Potomac, Md. Executive director, America's Student Loan Providers

TV franchise deals benefit communities

Your Feb. 22 editorial, "Give cable TV some healthy rivals," on easing video franchising regulation to benefit consumers, just echos the regional telephone companies' myopic stance on the issue.

Everyone would like their cable rates reduced, but this comes at what cost? The cable franchising process allows local governments some control over the public rights-of-way and customer service requirements, as well as the opportunity to ask for services that will serve their community.

Local franchise agreements require cable companies to serve the entire franchise area, something the phone companies are fighting.

The telephone companies are saying negotiating franchises will slow their entry into the marketplace. In our city, Verizon has built most of the infrastructure, but instead of coming to the negotiating table, the company has put its efforts into lobbying the state and federal governments. In Texas, where the state changed its laws to allow statewide franchising, the phone companies averaged one lobbyist for each legislator.

If phone companies put as much effort into negotiating franchises as they've put into lobbying, they'd already be offering services in more communities and be recouping some of the investment they put into infrastructure.
James Kenny
White Plains, N.Y. Executive director, White Plains Cable Access Television

The nature of a career articulated

The Feb. 15 article, "The geometry of impossibility" about "squaring the circle," or performing an "inherently impossible task," finally made it clear to me what I do for a living. For the past 10 years or so, I have headed international anticorruption projects in Mexico and now Ecuador. Fighting corruption on planet Earth certainly is an attempt to square the circle under the article's criteria - or maybe we are trying to turn the round planet into a cube. Anyway, that's what it feels like most of the time. Thanks for the article! Now I understand what I am attempting to do.
Jim Wesberry
Quito, Ecuador

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