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Mrs. GILLIBRAND. Madam President, I agree with my colleague from Massachusetts. She said it exactly right, as will the other Senators who are going to speak on this issue today. I urge Congress to work immediately to tackle the mountain of student debt which is crippling the lives of young people and weighing down an entire generation.
The Federal Student Loan Refinancing Act, which I wrote to address the growing economic burden facing our graduates and their families, basically affords a graduate the same right to refinance their loans as already provided to homeowners, corporations, and even governments. This legislation would lower interest rates on refinancing student loans to 4 percent, saving borrowers thousands of dollars which would otherwise be spent purchasing a home or a car or even starting a new business.
In New York State and across the Nation, we are facing a student loan debt crisis. Student loan debt is at $1.2 trillion nationwide. Americans now owe more on their student loans than they do on their credit cards or car loans, holding back our economy and our economy's growth. Tens of millions of young people who graduated college and are securing their first job are not starting their careers on even ground. They are starting them under water, and they have a hard time staying afloat when juggling all their bills.
A New York student who borrows to pay for college now graduates with an average of more than $27,000 in student loan debt, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. When someone owes upwards of $30,000 in debt before even earning the first paycheck, it is no wonder young people are falling further behind on their payments.
Providing graduates with the ability to refinance their student debt--Federal loans particularly--would lead to the personal savings of $14.5 billion nationwide in the first year alone, according to the Center for American Progress report.
A higher education remains the clearest path to our middle class. When we price young people out of college, we all pay the price. Keeping a high-quality education in New York affordable is simply the right thing to do. That is why refinancing Federal student loans should be one of Congress's top priorities for college students.
The magnitude of the problem requires leadership and the solution is right in front of us. Now is the time to act. Our Nation's students, graduates, and families cannot afford further delay.
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