U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Angus King (I-ME) voted today against the motion to proceed on both the Democrat and Republican student loan interest rate proposals. Senators Manchin and King will urge their colleagues to work toward passing a comprehensive student loan reform package that makes it easier and more affordable for all Americans to access higher education. Without congressional action, the interest rate on federally-subsidized Stafford student loans will double from 3.4% to 6.8% on July 1.
"We have to work together to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling, because every dollar counts. More importantly, we need to find a real long-term solution so that all of our children - not just a few -- are able to afford higher education," Senator Manchin said. "Education is truly the most important investment that our children can make for themselves. It's only commonsense to keep higher education affordable so that we can train our students for the jobs of the future and can effectively compete around the world. Senator King and I are determined to work with our colleagues to come up with a stronger, comprehensive student loan package before the July 1st deadline."
"Congress will be doing America's students a serious disservice if we allow the interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans to double at the end of this month -- but we will be doing tomorrow's students an even greater injustice if we don't figure out a long-term solution," Senator King said. "Last year, Congress passed a one-year extension in order to work out a substantive, long-term deal. Regrettably, the Democrats' proposal delays facing the necessity of a long-term solution and fails to address the interest rates for all of the federal student loan programs. On the other hand, the Republican proposal, while long-term in its scope, does not contain the adequate protections for low-income students and devotes all of its projected savings to deficit reduction rather than bolstering existing programs like Income-Based Repayment or Pell Grants.
"We have until the end of the month to broker a substantial bipartisan deal that will solve this problem in the long-term, and I believe that we can bridge the differences between the competing proposals to reach a compromise solution that can acquire wide support. We just need to set the politics aside and do the work. I look forward to being a leader on this issue with Senator Manchin to build consensus across the aisle and to move away from short-term fixes."
Student loan debt exceeds $1 trillion and is second only to mortgage debt for American families. The average student graduates with more than $26,000 in student loans. In less than 4 weeks, more than seven million low and moderate-income students will have to pay an additional $1,000 for each loan.