With interest rates on federally-subsidized Stafford loans set to double on July 1st, U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI) today added his name to a discharge petition that would bring the Student Loan Relief Act, H.R. 1595, to a vote on the House floor.
"Allowing student loan interest rates to double would close the door on the affordability of higher education for so many young people," said Cicilline. "Our first priority is to ensure as many young people as possible are able to attend college or begin a career with the skills and resources they need to succeed, and it is critical that Congress take action to prevent this unnecessary rate hike."
Cicilline is a co-sponsor of the Student Loan Relief Act, which U.S. Congressman Joe Courtney (D-CT) introduced earlier this year in the House. The legislation would freeze student loan interest rates at 3.4% for the next two years -- giving Congress time to enact comprehensive student loan reform. Under current law, interest rates on federally subsidized Stafford loans will double to 6.8% on July 1, 2013.
Although Courtney's Student Loan Relief Act is co-sponsored by more than 150 members, Republicans have refused to bring it to an up-or-down vote on the House floor. Instead, on May 23rd, House Republicans passed a student loan bill, H.R. 1911, that was even worse for students and families than allowing interest rates to double. According to the Congressional Research Service, under the Republican bill, students who borrow the maximum amount of subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans over five years would pay nearly $2,000 more in interest costs than if interest rates doubled. Senate Democrats have said they will not take up this damaging House bill.
Cicilline recently announced his support for a package of three bills, including the Student Loan Relief Act, during a meeting of his Congressional Youth Cabinet. In addition to the Student Loan Relief Act, Cicilline has co-sponsored the Responsible Student Loan Solutions Act, which would determine student loan interest rates by the actual cost of the program, helping guarantee that young people can take advantage of the lowest possible rates available from the federal government rather than a fixed rate, as well as the Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act, which would set the interest rate on Stafford loans at the primary interest rate offered through the Federal Reserve discount window, meaning that students would have access to the same low interest rates that banks take advantage of today.