(Crystal A. Proxmire, July 14, 2013)
When US Senator Debbie Stabenow was in Southfield last week talking to students, she’d hoped to be able to get enough support for a bill that would roll back student loan interest rates from 6.8% to 3.4%. But the vote never happened, as it was blocked by a Republican filibuster. With 60 votes needed to break the filibuster, a total of 51-49 was as close as Democrats finally came.
The rate on student loans had been lowered to 3.4% for the past two years in an attempt to ease the burden of debt on young people and encourage more people to go to school. The roll back expired July 1, and Democrats failed to gain enough Republican support to have the rate extended.
Students at the press conference at Oakland Community College last week talked about why they felt lower rates were better. Desmond Miller, a student at Eastern Michigan University, was one of those who spoke. “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.”
In a July 10 press release, Stabenow said “At a time when too many Michigan students and families are strapped with tens of thousands in student loan debt when they graduate, we need to be making college more affordable, not raising rates so the government makes a profit off of student. Some want to see student loan rates double in an effort to pay down the debt on the back of our students while protecting special interests. It is absolutely critical that Congress come together and pass legislation to reverse this rate hike and begin work on a long-term plan to make college more affordable for every student.”
With the increased rate, the government is poised to make a $51 billion profit off student loan interest this year. In Michigan, nearly 300,000 students will be hit with an average increase of almost $1000 per loan. The average student debt for Michigan students in approximately $26,000.
For our previous article on the rate increase, see http://oaklandcounty115.com/2013/07/08/stabenow-wednesday-vote-could-lower-student-loan-rates-video/