Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) held a press conference at Saint Peter's University today and urged Congress to work until it comes to a resolution to prevent the July 1 doubling of student loan interest rates from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.
"One of my top priorities is keeping higher education affordable for all who want it because an education is one of the surest pathways to achieving the American Dream," Payne Jr. said. "For millions of students and working families that dream may be ripped away just six days from now if Congress does nothing. It's unthinkable that Congress would go on recess and take a vacation while students and working families are left to make the tough decision whether they will even be able to attend classes next semester."
If Congress fails to act by July 1, student loan interest rates will double, putting college well out of reach for millions of students. At the current rate of 3.4 percent the New Jersey average of debt per borrower is $27,610. But the increase in interest rates on July 1 will raise the average debt to $55,220. Hardworking families already carry $1 trillion in student loan debt. Without Congressional action, that burden will be exacerbated.
"Time is running out. Congress has to act, and we have to act now because in the greatest nation, a college education should not just be available to the one percent, but to the rest of the 99 percent," said Payne, Jr. "Congress can make college affordable by first preventing the doubling of student loan interest rates and then fully reforming the student loan financial system so that graduates can truly be successful without having the burden of a mountain of debt. Because when our students succeed, we as a community succeed."
Congressman Payne, Jr. is ready and eager to address this issue to keep college affordable for all New Jerseyans. Last week, Congressman Payne, Jr. signed a discharge petition filed by Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-2) to prevent rates from doubling on July 1. Nevertheless, House Republicans are working overtime to make college more expensive. Last month, Republicans voted for their "Make College More Expensive Act" to saddle students and families with higher interest payments for their loans. According to nonpartisan analyses, Republican proposals in both the House and Senate are worse for students than if Congress did nothing and interest rates doubled by July 1st.