With the cost of college tuition continuing to rise and the threat of need-based student loan interest rates doubling in July, U.S. Rep. Karen Bass held a town hall meeting and workshop for Los Angeles student loan borrowers to inform them about the current legislative environment in Congress and to assist college graduates in need of guidance with current loans.
"When I examine the extremely negative financial state so many of our nation's students are facing, it is becomes heartbreaking that the issue is this great," said Rep. Bass. "There's no reason that if advancing one's education is the answer for ensuring success within our country students should have to leave college with as much debt as a mortgage would cost. It is my mission in Congress to help students who are facing this unprecedented crippling debt before they even enter our recovering workforce. If we truly strive as a country to be economically competitive on a global level, we must make affordable post-secondary education a top priority for every student in America no matter their family's economic status."
In addition to the town hall and workshop, Rep. Bass launched a nationwide "Sound Off on Student Debt" survey to gather feedback from students and graduates around the country about the challenges and pitfalls they face with education-related debt. Preliminary results show that nearly 72 percent of respondents currently have loans that are accumulating interest and a majority of those surveyed could benefit from having lower monthly payments. Students who attended Wednesday's event had the opportunity to meet individually with representatives from the U.S. Department of Education, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, National Consumer Law Center and the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles to obtain financial and judicial assistance with their current loans.
Rep. Bass has also sought legislative action to help struggling students. Last month, after the release of the Republican's fiscal year 2013 budget, which reduced the amount of available funding for post-secondary education, U.S. Rep. Karen Bass offered an amendment which would provide relief to college students by preventing need-based Stafford Loan interest rates from doubling in July to 6.8 percent. The increased interest rate would lead to a $2,800 average increase in college borrowing costs for more than 7 million students. Every Republican Member of the Budget Committee voted against the amendment causing the proposal to fail by a party-line vote.
Rep. Bass has supported bills from other Members of Congress who are also concerned about college affordability. She is a co-sponsor of Congressman Hansen Clarke's (D-Mich.) bill, which would erase the balance of federal student loans after a decade; Congressman Steve Cohen's (D-Tenn.) proposal that allows borrowers to declare bankruptcy on their private student loans and Congressman Joe Courtney's (D-Calis.) legislation that also seeks to keep student loan interest rates from doubling in July.