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Smarter Solutions for Students Act

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. DINGELL. Mr. Speaker, once again House Republicans refuse to address the affordability of higher education head on and instead are using sleight of hand to make students think their interest rates will remain low. The awful truth is that H.R. 1911 will add even more to the already $1.1 billion of student debt in this country and further increase the cost of getting a college education.

As we continue to recover economically, we must ensure that students can afford a higher education. In 2007, as we were dealing with the worst of the recession, I voted in favor of legislation to reduce interest rates on Stafford loans from 6.8 to 3.4 percent. On July 1, interest rates will go back to 6.8 percent if Congress does not act.

An increase to 6.8 percent will add an additional $1000 in debt over the lifetime on a student's loans. However, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that under H.R. 1911 interest rates will rapidly increase to 7.7 percent by 2018. This bill does not guarantee lower interest rates. In fact, it does the opposite. The CBO does not project that interest rates will come down any time in the next 10 years. This is a hard truth students and their families cannot afford.

I am a proud cosponsor, along with 138 of my colleagues, of H.R. 1595, the Student Loan Relief Act by Representative Joe Courtney, which keeps the interest rate at 3.4 percent through 2015. That gives the Congress time enough to address comprehensive legislation to amend the Higher Education Act and develop long-term solutions to address student loans.

There are nearly 48,000 students attending a university or college in my district who have a Stafford subsidized student loan. Those loans total over $212 million. Increasing the interest rate will add an unnecessary burden on those students as they graduate and enter the workforce. We must do everything we can to help as they get started.

We should not have to choose how we are going to invest in our country's future. Republicans don't seem to realize that by not finding a compromise, they are playing politics with students, families, and the future of our country.

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