Protecting Low-Interest Student Loans
The interest rate on student loans will double if Congress does not act by July 1 – when students can least afford it. About two-thirds of the Class of 2010 graduated with student loan debt at an average of $25,000. And, yet, young Americans have the highest unemployment rate of any other group.
Today, the House of Representatives considered a bill that would prevent the student loan rate hike, but pays for it by cutting healthcare for women and children, including immunizations and screenings for cervical and breast cancer. This is an unacceptable, politically-motivated solution that ignores the seriousness of the problem. There are plenty of other suitable offsets in which Republicans and Democrats should be able to find common ground. For example, I am supporting legislation called the “Stop the Rate Hike Act of 2012,” which will instead offset the student loan fix by ending tax breaks for the five largest oil companies. These companies already receive $4 billion in subsidies a year amid record profits.
I spoke at an event honoring military students at Towson University earlier this week and was approached by several students who told me that they could not pursue their degrees without the help of student loans. For every year we wait to act, hard-working students like these will see an additional $1,000 in repayment costs. We should be doing everything we can to ensure young people get the education and skills they need to succeed. Now is not the time to make school more expensive for our young people.