Speaks to Alaskan Parents and Students about College Loan Debt Solutions
U.S. Senator Mark Begich doesn't believe anyone should get priced out of an education so he met with Alaska students today to hear their concerns and to talk about new legislation he is supporting to significantly reduce student loan rates.
Begich is the former chairman of the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education and an outspoken advocate of keeping student loan rates low and making college more affordable for American families and students.
"Today was a great opportunity to talk to Alaska students about the work I'm doing to make college more affordable for Alaskan families and students," said Begich. "Improving access to higher education and keeping rates low for students is a priority for students and for parents. Today's discussion showed how truly overwhelming those costs can be but also provided students with some ideas on the horizon that can make higher education more affordable."
Begich is currently working with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a well-known consumer financial advocate, on legislation to allow eligible borrowers with currently high interest rates to refinance at rates at least as low as those currently being offered to new borrowers in the federal student loan program. For a recent graduate who borrowed the maximum, payments would drop by as much as $1,000 a year -- and total interest could be cut nearly in half.
Begich also co-sponsored legislation last year that would allow students to take advantage of the same low interest rates offered to banks through the Federal Reserve discount window. The bill would let students borrow at .75 percent on federally subsidized Stafford loans for one year - almost nine times less than the rate increase that threatened students in the summer of 2013. This one-year fix would give students the short-term relief they need and allow Congress time to develop a long-term plan to address interest rates.
In July of 2013, Begich voted to keep student loan rates on federal Stafford loans low, which were scheduled to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. The Senate is currently working on a long term fix to scheduled student loan rate increases.
Begich has also introduced legislation that would create a student loan forgiveness program for graduates of early education programs -- they aren't the highest-paying jobs in the world and the idea is give young teachers an extra incentive to teach our youngest Americans.