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Congressman Tonko Joins Siena Community and Calls on Congress to Stop Rise in Student Loan Interest Rates

Press Release

Location: Latham, NY

Congressman Paul Tonko, joined by Siena College President Fr. Kevin Mullen '75, O.F.M., Ph.D., administrators and students at Siena College today urged Congress to take steps that would keep student loan interest rates from doubling before July 1 for more than 7 million students nationwide, including nearly 35,000 students in the Capital Region alone.

"If interest rates for students double on July 1, 65% of students in this Congressional District will feel the impact," said Congressman Paul Tonko. "This is not a partisan issue, it is a student issue. It's time Congress stops playing games, understands the financial strain college places on so many students, and does the right thing by ensuring interest rates don't double. Our students, colleges and the economy should not be held hostage to Congressional partisanship and gridlock in a campaign year."

"Maintaining the interest rate of 3.4% on need-based federal loans is critically important to many Siena College students. During this past year alone, almost 2,000 Siena undergraduate students had subsidized Stafford loans totaling more than $8 million in tuition assistance," said Siena College President Fr. Kevin Mullen '75, O.F.M., Ph.D. "I enjoyed sharing my thoughts with Congressman Tonko this morning in what proved to be a productive and positive discussion. It is my hope that Congress will pass legislation that will allow our students in need to continue pursuing the education of a lifetime without an additional financial burden."

Michele Smith "12, a Siena College senior from Wynantskill and graduate of Catholic High was also on hand this morning. As a Biology major attending medical school after completing her undergraduate work, Michele said, "Student loans are not hand-outs, they are investments in the future of our country. Raising the interest rate would put an even greater burden on students and families who are already struggling to finance a college education. This increase would make it extremely difficult for bright and ambitious students to pursue goals that may ultimately change and improve the world in which we live."

If Congress doesn't act, students across the country will incur a combined additional $6.3 billion in repayment costs for the 2012-2013 academic school year. That means college will become $1,000 more expensive each year for each student borrower if Congress doesn't step in. In New York alone, there are over 420,000 student borrowers that will be stuck footing an additional $340 million in increased interest payments from one year of borrowing. That is money that otherwise could go back into the local economy to pay for housing, a car, food, gas or even to start a small business.

Through the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, Congress made historic investments in student aid. The law halved the interest rate on need-based federal student loans to 3.4 percent -- making these loans more affordable for low and middle-income families. That rate will jump to 6.8 percent in July.

Photos of today's event can be viewed here:

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