Student Debt: Congress Petitioned By College Leaders For 'Long-Term' Solution

06/19/2013 02:57 pm ET | Updated Jun 19, 2013

WASHINGTON -- A coalition of over 100 student body presidents, representing more than 1 million college students, will deliver a petition to lawmakers on Capitol Hill Thursday to demand that Congress find "a long-term solution" to the student loan crisis before July 1, and take immediate action to prevent interest rates on key government loans from doubling.

Americans are coping with over $1 trillion in outstanding student debt, with current students averaging over $27,000 in debt at graduation. The Obama administration has been urging Congress to act quickly to avert the rate hike, which would move interest rates on federally subsidized Stafford loans to 6.8 percent from 3.4 percent. The boost would result in an additional debt burden of about $1,000 for a typical student.

The letter from student body presidents was organized by the National Campus Leadership Council, and includes student leaders from dozens of public and private institutions. The letter asks for a long-term student loan interest rate policy that would keep rates low, ensure that repayment options are simple and predictable, and reinvest any government savings back into financial aid for students. The federal government expects to turn a $51 billion profit on its student lending operations this year, as borrowing costs to the government approach a record low.

Congressional Republicans have sought to overhaul the federal lending program to fix interest rates at a level 3 percentage points higher than the rate on U.S. Treasury bonds, which would result in an interest rate of 4.75 percent for loans issued ahead of the coming school year. However, the GOP bill would result in much higher rates for students in the future, up to a cap of 8.5 percent. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney supported extending the 3.4 percent interest rate in 2012 without any additional reforms.

Stafford loan affordability plays a significant role in making a college degree financially accessible for some students, but many also take on additional loans from private-sector lenders at far higher rates, often comparable to credit card rates. Unlike most consumer loans, student debt cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. The threat of bankruptcy serves as a deterrent to some predatory lending practices, since it allows high debt levels to be eventually discharged.

Student body presidents signing the letter include:

Andrew Lessig, University of Alaska-Anchorage
Jarmyn Kramlich, University of Alaska Southeast
Erika Stoddard, Alaska Pacific University
Morgan Abraham, University of Arizona
Makenzie Mastrud, Northern Arizona University
Jordan Davis, Arizona State University
John Joanino, University of California, Los Angeles
Carolina Moreno, San Diego City College
Demisse Selassie, Pepperdine University
Isaac Green, Colorado College
Shannon Hayes, Regis University
Ambar Paulino, Trinity College Hartford
Nate Tisa, Georgetown University
Julia Susuni, The George Washington University
Patrick Kelly, American University
Samuel Thornton, New College of Florida
Carlo Fassi, University of North Florida
Chris Hill, University of West Florida
Juan Cubillo, Florida Gulf Coast University
Bhumi Ashok Patel, University of Miami
Raj Patel, Emory University
Austin Laufersweiler, University of Georgia
Richard Mizusawa, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Ryan Gregg, Boise State University
Jacqui Rogers, Millikin University
Anirudh Ajith, Northwestern University
Michael McCown, University of Chicago
Kyle Pendergast, Purdue University
Alex Coccia, University of Notre Dame
Zach Mathis, Southern Indiana University
Spencer Hughes, Iowa State University
Katherine Valde, University of Iowa
Aaron Lacy, Mount Mercy University
Paul Esker, Luther College
Eli Schooley, Kansas State University
Christopher Roberts, Fort Hays State University
Racheal Countryman, Emporia State University
Taylor Gravett, Pittsburg State University
Shelbie Konkel, Washburn University
Jeremiah Johnson, Murray State University
Morgan Wittenberg, Tulane University
Davante Lewis, McNeese State University
Cody Cook, Centre College
Brendan Fulmer, Loyola University Maryland
Alex Schupper, Johns Hopkins University
Samantha Zwerling, University of Maryland
Edwina Rogers, Frostburg State University
Dexter McCoy, Boston University
Akshay Kapoor, University of Massachusetts
Ricky Rosen, Brandeis University
Adrian Castro, Williams College
Desmond Miller, Eastern Michigan University
Evan Martinak, Michigan State University
Adham Aljahmi, Wayne State University
Wedad Ibrahim, University of Michigan-Dearborn
Dylan Kosaski, Saginaw Valley State University
Marie Reimers, Central Michigan University
Michael Hogan, Mississippi State University
Ashley Koesterer, Missouri University of Science and Technology
Nick Droege, University of Missouri
Matthew Re, Washington University in St. Louis
Emily Dean, Carroll College
John McCoy, Creighton University
Lyndsay Robinson, Saint Anselm College
Adil Hussain, Stony Brook University
Shilpa Topudurti, University of Rochester
Sam Flood, Colgate College
Alexandra Curtis, Syracuse University
Brock Wilkinson, Canisius College
Tyler Shepard, Hobart College
Deb Steinberg, Vassar College
Cedrick-Michael Simmons, Ithaca College
Christopher Ragsdale, Davidson College
G. Dylan Russell, Appalachian State University
Christopher Lambden, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Robert Lauf, North Dakota State University
Nikolas Kukert, North Dakota State College of Science
Ryan Capouch, University of Mary
Joe Blizzard, University of Cincinnati
Andrew Dziedzic, Xavier University
Alex Solis, Bowling Green State University
Jamie Tate, Oklahoma State University
Sam Dotters-Katz, University of Oregon
Winnie Washington, Lincoln University-Pennsylvania
Katelyn Mullen, Pennsylvania State University
Gordon Louderback, University of Pittsburgh
Donald Castellucci III, The University of Scranton
Gabriella Capone, Swarthmore College
Hillary Costa, Rhode Island College
Erik Muckey, University of South Dakota
Chase Vogel, Black Hill State University
Ricky Kirby, University of Memphis
Isaac Escamilla, Vanderbilt University
Michael K. Wallace, East Tennessee State University
Robert Fisher, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Horacio Villareal, University of Texas-Austin
Cedric Bandoh, University of Houston
Timothy Xavier Johnson, University of Texas-San Antonio
Leon Spencer III, Texas Southern University
Sam Ortiz, University of Utah
David Wilson, Weber State University
Douglas Fiefia, Utah State University
Jonothon Andrews, Utah Valley University
Haley Craig, Lyndon State College
Brent Ashley, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Vikhyath Veeramachaneni, Virginia Commonwealth University
Joseph Jedlicka, James Madison University
Alexander Pawlowski, University of Virginia
Johnny Draxler, Gonzaga University
David Gardner, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Heba Mohammad, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
Brett Kahler, University of Wyoming

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