Today, Representative Tim Walz (D-MN) was joined by Moriah Miles, recent Minnesota State University-Mankato graduate and State Chair of the Minnesota State University Student Association, and southern Minnesota college students on the campus of MSU-Mankato with a simple message: keep college affordable for hardworking students and middle class families.
If Congress fails to act before July 1, interest rates on subsidized Stafford student loans will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, piling billions of more dollars of debt onto the backs of students across Minnesota and the country.
Recently, Walz joined Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT) and over 100 of his colleagues to co-sponsor legislation that would lock in the low 3.4 percent rate for two years and allow lawmakers time to work out a long-term, truly bipartisan solution to tackle the student loan issue as part of a comprehensive effort to end the student debt crisis and make college more affordable.
"The path to the American Dream runs through college campuses across this nation," said Walz. "Allowing interest rates to double will make college more expensive and it will make the American Dream for over 200,000 Minnesota students that much harder to realize. Congress must take immediate action to keep interest rates low now and work out a long-term, comprehensive solution to make college more affordable for hardworking students and middle class families in the future."
Students at Minnesota public and private universities currently graduate with an average debt load of nearly $30,000--the third highest in the county.
"Students are already delaying purchasing homes, starting families, and fully contributing to their local economies because of the massive amounts of crushing debt they incur in their efforts to get ahead," said Moriah Miles, recent graduate of MSU-Mankato and State Chair of the Minnesota State University Student Association. "Keeping interest rates low now and providing a comprehensive plan to make college more affordable in the future, will allow students and parents to seize opportunity and achieve the American Dream upon graduation, strengthening our economy in the process."
Last week, the House of Representatives passed a bill (H.R. 1911), introduced by Representative John Kline (R-MN), which would allow the interest rates on student loans to fluctuate yearly, making college more expensive for hardworking students and middle class families.
Representative Walz opposed H.R. 1911 saying, in part, it is not the plan students and middle class families need or are looking for.
"While I appreciate the Representative Kline's efforts to address the issue, unfortunately H.R. 1911 is not the answer students and middle class families need or are looking for. We should be increasing access to higher education, not creating hurdles to it," said Walz.
The Minnesota State College Student Association (MSCSA) and the Minnesota State University Student Association (MSUSA), representing 175,000 students across Minnesota, also opposes H.R. 1911. To read full press release from MSUSA announcing their opposition, please click here.
The Facts on H.R. 1911:
According to a non-partisan report by the Congressional Research Service, H.R. 1911 would leave students with more debt than if rates were to double on July 1.
Specifically, CRS found that:
Students who borrow the maximum amount of subsidized Stafford loans over five years would pay $10,109 in interest payments under H.R. 1911, $8,808 if rates are allowed to double to 6.8 percent in July, or $4,174 if rates were kept at 3.4 percent.
Students who borrow the maximum amount of subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans over five years would pay $14,430 in interest under H.R. 1911, $12,598 if subsidized loans were allowed to double in July, or $7,965 if rates don't double.
Parents and graduate students would also pay more under H.R. 1911. For instance, a parent who borrows the maximum amount for their child over five years would face $35,848 in interest payments under H.R. 1911, more than the $27,956 under current law.