Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico's Third District voted today to bring up legislation to address the increase in interest rates on student loans that is scheduled to occur on July 1. With only five days to go until rates double, Luján joined with all his Democratic colleagues in an attempt to immediately bring legislation to the floor that would freeze rates at 3.4 percent for the next two years. Not one Republican voted with Democrats to bring up the legislation, blocking the effort.
"House Republicans have passed a bill that is a non-starter in the Senate, is opposed by President Obama, and would actually make student loans more expensive than if interest rates were left to double on July 1," Congressman Lujan said. "They have failed to offer a solution and instead would make the problem worse. It's time for them to work with Democrats on a plan that prevents millions of young adults from seeing their payments double."
Luján voted today to bring up H.R. 1595, the Student Loan Relief Act, which would freeze the interest rate on these loans at 3.4 percent for the next two years and give Congress time to enact comprehensive reform as part of the Higher Education Act reauthorization. If the interest rate on subsidized federal Stafford loans doubles from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, the cost of interest for students who borrow the maximum amount of these loans would rise by $4,500 -- and for students who borrow the average amount, the loan would cost $2,600 more in interest payments.
"Many college students in New Mexico are working hard to put themselves through school and rely on student loans to help them afford the cost of a college education," Luján added. "While asking a college student to incur $2,600 more in debt might not seem like too much to House Republicans, for recent graduates in New Mexico who are trying to get out from under the weight of student debt and begin a career, this additional debt will make a significant difference. It's critical that Congress takes action to support our students and ensure that higher education is not a distant option, burdened by prohibitive costs, but instead a manageable opportunity that can put our young people on a stable, prosperous path."