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Mr. COURTNEY. Mr. Speaker, as the chart next to me clearly states, we are now 4 days and counting until, by law, the interest rate for the subsidized Stafford student loan program will double--from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. The real chart should probably be 3 days because that's how many legislative days the House and the Senate are in session. Incredibly, we are debating issues which hardly have the same time sensitivity and which clearly are tone deaf to what American families all over the country are really concerned about.
There are 7.5 million college students who use the subsidized Stafford student loan program. They are going to see their rates double. The total gross cost in terms of added interest is about $4 billion. This is at a time when student loan debt is $1.1 trillion--higher than credit card debt, higher than car loan debt. Incredibly, this deadline is just being completely ignored by the majority despite the fact that millions of students are making life decisions as we speak as they begin to enroll for next fall's semester.
The bill which the House majority passed on May 23 is a bill which tied rates on a variable basis to Treasury notes, which, by the way, have been going up like crazy over the last 3 weeks and which the Congressional Budget Office has now analyzed and told us will result in debt costs that will be worse than if Congress did nothing and allowed the rates to double to 6.8 percent.
The solution is obvious. Extend the lower rate, 3.4 percent. My bill, H.R. 1595, which is the subject of the previous question, has 195 signatories for a discharge petition. A substantial group of Members in the House is ready and poised to move. It did get 51 votes in the Senate. It did actually move in the Senate, and the President has said he will sign it. If there is any path forward for those 7.5 million students, it's H.R. 1595. Let's do it. Let's act. Let's turn this countdown clock off. Let's help America's young students afford and pay for a critical need for their future--higher education.
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