Senate Republicans today filibustered a bill co-authored by U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow that would have reduced the student loan payments of more than 25 million Americans, and nearly one million in Michigan alone. The Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, introduced last week by Senator Stabenow, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and others, would allow people to refinance their existing loans, taken out at higher interest rates in the past, at the lower rates available to new borrowers during the 2013-2014 school year, reducing their monthly loan payments. The legislation is fully paid for and would save taxpayers billions of dollars by enacting the Buffett Rule, which ensures that millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share of taxes. Republicans refused to let the Senate even consider the bill, filibustering it before it could be brought to the floor.
"It's outrageous that Senate Republicans would rather protect the big banks and unfair tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires than address the student debt crisis hanging over the heads of millions of middle class families," said Stabenow. "Too many people in Michigan and across the country face decades of paying down debt just because they wanted to get an education and have a fair shot to get ahead. I will continue fighting to help borrowers who are having to forego saving for a house, buying a car, or starting a family because of the crushing burden of student debt. People need degrees, not debt, and there's no reason we cannot get this done."
According to the Project on Student Debt, Michigan ranks in the top ten of states with the highest average student loan debt. In Michigan, the average student loan debt among those who borrow to get a bachelor's degree is nearly $29,000 and 62% of Michigan students have debt when they graduate. Many borrowers are stuck with unsustainable levels of student debt for two and even three decades of their lives.
Under the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, a borrower with $29,000 in public loans at a 7 percent interest rate would save over $5,400 in interest payments over ten years. A borrower with $100,000 in private loans at a 14 percent interest rate would save nearly $155,000 in interest payments over twenty years.