U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow today joined Michigan students from colleges and universities across Michigan at Oakland Community College in Southfield to urge Congress to pass legislation she is sponsoring to reverse the rate hike on student loans. On July 1, student loan interest rates on subsidized federal Stafford loans doubled from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, despite attempts to forge a bipartisan agreement on student loan legislation before the deadline. Senator Stabenow's Keep Student Loans Affordable Act of 2013, which will be voted on July 10 in the Senate, would reverse the rate hike and ensure that student loans remain at 3.4 percent while Congress works on a comprehensive plan to reduce student loan debt for every student.
Senator Stabenow said: "Too many Michigan students and families are strapped with tens of thousands in student loan debt when they graduate. We need to be making college more affordable, not raising rates so the government makes a profit off of students. It is absolutely critical that Congress come together and pass my legislation to reverse this rate hike and begin work on a long-term plan to make college more affordable for every student."
Dr. Timothy R. Meyer, Chancellor of Oakland Community College said: "A well-prepared and educated workforce is critical to our state's and nation's economy. We at OCC deeply appreciate Senator Stabenow's efforts to make higher education affordable for all students by keeping student loan interest rates low, and so helping them reach a promising future."
Darrin Camilleri, Kalamazoo College Student and Brownstown resident said: "As a first generation college student with $27,000 in student loans, I need a low interest rate to be able to afford to pursue my American Dream. Thank you Senator Stabenow for fighting for Michigan students like me by pushing for an affordable college education for all."
Desmond Miller, Eastern Michigan University Student said: "I believe the rates being doubled will discourage students from going to college; fearing that they will forever be in debt if they do. I'm very thankful that Sen. Stabenow is keeping the best interest of students in mind and leading the fight against the increase."
Without Congressional action to reverse the rate hike, the government is estimated to make a $51 billion profit off of students and their families. In Michigan, nearly 300,000 students will be hit with an average increase of almost $1000 per loan. The average student debt for Michigan students in approximately $26,000.
Unlike proposals that would balance the budget on the backs of students by making future loans much more costly, Sen. Stabenow's legislation will help ensure that college remains within reach for students who rely on federal loans to pay for their education. Senator Stabenow championed similar legislation in 2012 to keep the student loan interest rates at 3.4 percent for one year, which President Obama signed into law.
In 2010, Senator Stabenow led the effort to reform the student loan program and expand college access. These reforms made lending initiatives more efficient and increased Pell Grant funding to make college more affordable for students and middle-class families.