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Rich Williams Headshot

There is No 'A' for Effort on Student Loan Interest Rates

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It seems safe to say that the more than 7 million students who will be taking out Stafford student loans for the next school year join my disappointment that the Senate cannot seem to pass a bill to keep interest rates from doubling on July 1.

Senators who return to their home states this coming week and say "I tried" should be reminded that there is no 'A' for effort.

This month, students and their families are receiving financial aid award letters warning of the interest rate increase and causing nervous tension over the uncertainty. This debate is not about partisan gamesmanship in Washington but about a potential post-graduation debt increase of $1,000 for every year a subsidized Stafford loan borrower is in school.

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Average student debt is $25,000 and rising. Student debt surpassed all credit card debt last year and just recently topped $1 trillion. This crushing burden is made worse by an uncertain job market. High debt levels places significant barriers in front of students, causing many to delay important life decision such as buying a home, getting married or starting a family. High debt also tears at the social fabric of our society, preventing graduates from entering into socially valuable but historically low paying careers.

This week the Senate voted on two separate measures that would prevent student loan interest rates from doubling this summer, both failing to achieve enough votes to pass. With the political votes behind them, senators who are truly concerned about students and the rising cost of higher education should find a bipartisan solution before the July 1 deadline and get it done.