(Crystal A. Proxmire, July 8, 2013)
A vote is expected Wednesday on US Senator Debbie Stabenow’s “Keep Student Loans Affordable Act,” an effort to bring student loan rates back to 3.4%. The rate doubled on July 1 after Republicans blocked a vote to keep the rates low. Stabenow explained that a few years ago the rate was reduced from 6.8% to help students go to college. That reduction expired on July 1st.
Stabenow gave a press conference on the Southfield campus of Oakland Community College Monday morning, urging the public to contact their elected officials and to use the hashtag #dontdoublemyrate to help spread the word about Wednesday’s vote. She noted that over a million people have already signed internet petitions in support of the lower interest rates.
“We should not, as the Federal government, be making a profit off the backs of students trying to go to college,” she said. “We need to, frankly, reform the entire system. We have over a trillion dollars in debt held by students who have gone to college to be able to have a better life and to have a stronger economy and a better country. We tell everybody to go to school and that it’s in our interest and your interest to do that. And right now we have over a trillion dollars in student loan debt alone, and I think we need to worry about that in terms of what’s happening to students and the choices you have to make coming out of college.”
With the doubled rates in place, the government would collect over $51 billion in profits this year, Stabenow said.
She said there has been a filibuster by Republican colleagues and that she and others pushing for the lower rate must convince at least five Republicans to join them in order to get the 60 members needed for it to go to a vote.
Desmond Miller, a student at Eastern Michigan University, was one of several students who spoke at the press conference. “The doubling of student loan rates is bound to discourage enrollment, academic achievement, and force our best and brightest young people into precarious financial problems,” he said. “We cannot afford to gamble away the future of our nation’s young people for the sake of political posturing.”
Darrin Camilleri of Kalamazoo Community College is the first in his family to go to college. “With $27,000 in debt by next year, I’m going to need a stable rate to plan out my financial future,” he said.
For more information visit http://www.stabenow.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=1074.