Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch is proposing a state program that would offer loans to Iowa college students at a one-percent interest rate.
“Our students and their families face serious challenges today as the costs associated with attending college continue to increase and the cost of borrowing adds to the stress that much more,” Hatch said during a conference call with reporters.
Hatch, a state senator from Des Moines, proposes that $15 million in state taxpayer dollars be placed in a revolving loan fund in each of the next four years. He projects the fund eventually could help 5000 students each year borrow up to $3000 for college.
Hatch also would seek to make college course credits more easily transferrable among all colleges and universities in the state — both public and private. Hatch said that could dramatically reduce the time a student has to spend in college — and reduce their college debt, too.
“Our current governor, Terry Branstad, made much ado about his education reform package that addressed a few of the needs at the K-12 education level, but was silent on specific proposals to change the way colleges and universities deliver services,” Hatch says.
According to Hatch, too many students are “downgrading their ambitions” because they fear the “avalanche of debt” they’d amass in college loans.
“Almost no family in Iowa has the money to pay, upfront, for the tuition — public or private — in today’s economy,” Hatch said.
Hatch intends to tour Iowa college campuses for the next three weeks to tout his ideas for reducing the cost of college.
The Branstad campaign issued a written statement, touting the governor’s attention to K-12 issues as well as the tuition freeze for students at the three state universities — the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa.
“Iowa’s college students have Governor Branstad to thank for the first tuition freeze in 30 years, which is again a priority this legislative session,” said Tommy Schultz, communications director of the Branstad/Reynolds campaign. “…By revitalizing the state economy and creating 137,000 jobs, the Branstad-Reynolds administration has provided students a stronger job market to enter into as they graduate from high school and college.”
Hatch has questioned Branstad’s job-creation claim, saying it does not account for job losses during Bransad’s fifth term as governor.