Mr. SIRES. Mr. Speaker, in less than 1 month, the interest rate for student loans is scheduled to double from 3.4 to 6.8 percent.
This increased rate, combined with the skyrocketing costs for college, will make it extremely difficult for Americans to afford to go to college. The cost for a higher education at a public 4-year school has almost tripled in the last 17 years. Americans now owe more money in tuition than they do in credit cards. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, educational loan debt in our country has reached $1 trillion.
Education is one of the biggest determining factors for earning potential. Those who have bachelor's degrees earn double the salary of those with high school diplomas. Those with associate degrees earn 50 percent more than those with high school diplomas. I am also a strong supporter of fully funding Pell Grants, which provide Federal grant aid for students to make college more affordable.
Access to higher education is an investment in the future economic stability of our Nation. We must put aside partisan differences and work together to preserve Pell Grants and to prevent the student loan rate from doubling on July 1.