Ms. BASS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce the Student Loan Fairness Act to address the crippling issue of student loan debt and the debilitating impact that this debt is having on American students and their ability to contribute to the growth of the United States economy.
As you may know, total outstanding student loan debt in America has surpassed the $1 trillion mark. It has outpaced credit card debt, auto debt, and is second only to mortgage debt in America. In fact, a recent study shows that student loan debt is the only type of consumer debt in America that has actually increased during the ``Great Recession'' and the problem only continues to worsen. As a result of these debts, millions of Americans are not buying cars, purchasing homes, starting businesses, or otherwise realizing the American Dream.
We need a fair and simple federal student loan repayment system which seeks to alleviate the financial burden of student loan debt on college graduates and support them as they begin their careers and lives.
That is why I rise today to introduce the Student Loan Fairness Act. This new legislation combines two bills from the 112th Congress: Rep. Hansen Clarke's Student Loan Forgiveness Act (H.R. 4170), as well as my own Graduate Success Act (H.R. 5895).
The Student Loan Fairness Act creates a new ``10-10'' standard for student loan repayment and establishes it as the new standard repayment plan for students taking out federal loans. This bill also combats the crushing interest rates of public and private loans, sends a lifeline to student borrowers who have fallen on difficult times, and promotes financial responsibility in higher education. In addition, our bill permanently caps the interest rate for all federal student loans at 3.4%, which will ultimately eliminate the need to enact temporary measures every year to prevent rates from doubling. This gives students more certainty and the comfort of knowing their interest rates will not go up every year.
Congress needs to act now to help our students. The longer we wait to take action, the more we undermine their future and prevent students from becoming the people they dream of being and the workforce our economy needs.