With fewer than five days before student loan interest rates double, Congresswoman Corrine Brown voted today to immediately bring up a bill that would freeze the current low rate of 3.4 percent for the next two years. Unfortunately, this bill was blocked from being debated by House Republicans.
"Today, House Republicans failed our nation's students and the thousands of hardworking families who already carry $1 trillion in student loan debt," said Congresswoman Brown. "Their refusal to take action to prevent the doubling of the student loan interest rate before July 1st undermines our economy, weakens our middle class, and puts college out of reach for millions of students. It's well past time for Republicans to work with Democrats to ensure the success of America by ensuring the success and education of our nation's students."
In fact, the Joint Economic Committee Democrats recently released a report that found that Florida's recent college graduates have an average of $23,533 in student loan debt, as well as an average debt of 54% of their annual income. The study concluded that the "rising cost of higher education and increasing debt burdens for students pose a potential risk to graduates and the broader economy."
In response to these alarming statistics, Congresswoman Brown voted to immediately bring up H.R. 1595, the Student Loan Relief Act of 2013, introduced by Rep. Joe Courtney. The bill would freeze the interest rate on these loans at 3.4% for the next two years -- giving Congress time to enact comprehensive student loan reform as part of a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Earlier, the Congresswoman joined 194 Democratic colleagues in signing a discharge petition (which requires the House to consider the legislation once a majority of Members of Congress  have signed it) to bring the bill to the House Floor.
On May 23rd, House Republicans passed a student loan bill which ironically is even worse for students and families than allowing interest rates to double. According to the Congressional Research Service, under the Republican bill, students who borrow the maximum amount of subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans over five years would pay nearly $2,000 more in interest costs than if interest rates doubled.
"Our students and families deserve better than the House Republican bill that would make many students pay higher interest payments than they would if Congress did nothing and interest rates doubled," said Congresswoman Brown. The Congresswoman continued, "Total student debt is currently greater than credit card debt, yet instead of reducing student debt, the Republican bill would actually increase it -- and leave students without a solution to keep college affordable."