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Public Statements

Student Loan Interest Rates

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. CICILLINE. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in strong opposition to the Making College More Expensive Act. This legislation is an attack on students, and it undermines the dream of higher education.

If we are serious about getting our country back on the right track, putting people back to work and ensuring that we remain competitive in the global economy, we have to do more to make higher education more accessible and more affordable, not more expensive.

Without congressional action, the interest rate on Federal subsidized Stafford loans is scheduled to increase from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent for more than 7 million students. Rather than fixing this problem, this legislation makes it worse. This bill will hurt young people and middle class families who are already struggling with crushing student loan debt. The idea that as a country we make money on the pursuit by young people of their educations is plain wrong.

Simply put, the United States Government should not be making a profit on student loans, and there are several proposals pending before the House today that would give students access to college at the lowest cost possible. The Student Loan Relief Act, the Responsible Student Loan Solutions Act, and the Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act would each preserve low interest rates for students; but the bill before us today is a bad Republican idea that will make college more expensive for working families and millions of students.

According to the independent, nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, students with 5 years of subsidized Stafford loans borrowed at the maximum amount would owe $4,174 in interest under the current rate. It would rise to $8,808 if we allowed interest rates to double on July 1; but under this proposal, students would owe a total of $10,109 in interest payments on their loans. Hidden within this bill is a blatant bait and switch scheme that will allow students to borrow money at one rate before their interest rates skyrocket.

We've seen this before. Our friends on the other side of the aisle like to claim that putting student loans into the marketplace is a cure-all for increased student debt; but in this case, the ``marketplace'' is code for billions of more dollars in interest payments, as this bill would prevent students from enjoying the lowest available interest rates. This is just wrong.

Our young people deserve more. It's in the interest of our entire country to ensure that as many young people as possible have access to higher education. So let's reject the Making College More Expensive Act and find a serious long-term solution on student loans that will make college more affordable for millions and millions of Americans.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

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