College affordability is front and center in this year’s election. It has a real impact on our country and its economic well-being. When graduates are saddled with high debt out of college, it impacts every decision they make from what job to take, and whether to buy a home or when to start a family.
The numbers are staggering. Education debt stands today at $1.3 trillion dollars, outpacing all other forms of debt outside of a mortgage. The average student carries more than $30,000 in loan debt. And, graduates are struggling to pay their bills — nearly one third of all student loan debt is in default, forbearance, or deferment. In Connecticut, over 500,000 people owe more than $12 billion in student loans.
Joe knows how important it is to tackle this growing drag on our economy, and has been in this fight since he was first elected to Congress.
As a new member of the Democratic majority in 2007, Joe helped pass a massive new investment in college affordability in his first 100 days. With increases in Pell grants and reductions in interest rates for federal student loans, he made college more accessible and affordable for millions of students.
When inaction in Congress threatened to undo that work and double student loan interest rates, Joe led the fight to stop that from happening. He was a consistent force in Congress and on the national stage rallying his fellow Democrats and forcing Republicans to take action to prevent rates doubling from 3.4 to 6.8 percent. That would have added nearly $1,000 to a student’s loan each year and add more than $4 billion to the national college debt load.
It worked, and Joe joined President Obama in the Oval Office to sign the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act into law. Thanks to that law, rates stand at 3.76 percent today – nearly 3 percent less than the rates that would have gone into effect if Joe had not stopped Republicans in their tracks. For millions of students across the country, and right here in Connecticut, that has made a real difference.
But Joe knows that the job is not done. That is why he is working to pass the Bank on Students Act. This bill would let borrowers refinance their high interest college debt the same way they can with cars and homes. By locking in lower interest rates, this critical bill would help over 24 million federal borrowers save over $50 billion from their debt – money that can be better spent in our economy, not on loan providers. In Connecticut alone, over 300,000 people would benefit from refinancing.
Incredibly, just last month every single House Republican joined together to block Joe’s bill from coming up for debate – twice. Republicans in the House proposed a budget this year that would have slashed Pell grants and made student loans more expensive. And, they’ve blocked the “In the Red” plan that Joe introduced with other education leaders in Congress to provide two years of free community college, which would help millions access new opportunities and necessary skills in the changing workforce.
That’s not the right direction for our country. That’s why Joe wants to get back to Washington – to take bold action and implement common sense solutions to address college affordability and tackle growing student loan debt.October 4th, 2016