Pocan Calls on GOP Leadership to Bring Up Vote to Freeze Student Loan Rates for 160,000 Wisconsin Students
WASHINGTON—One week after student loan rates doubled from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent for nearly 160,000 Wisconsin students, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02) once again urged GOP leadership to stop balancing the budget on the backs of students and bring up a vote to freeze student loan rates. Last month, Pocan joined his colleagues in signing a discharge petition to bring up for a vote the Student Loan Relief Act of 2013, which would freeze the interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans for the next two years.
Today, every Democrat in the Wisconsin State Assembly sent a letter to the Wisconsin Congressional delegation urging Congress to roll back the interest rates.
“Our education leaders, our students and parents, and now our local representatives in Wisconsin are all in unison: stop the student loan rates from doubling,” Pocan said. “Unfortunately, these calls seem to be falling on the deaf ears of the House Republican leadership, which has thus far only offered a “solution” that would end up costing students even more than if these loan rates stay at the doubled cost. A quality, accessible college education is too important to our country’s long-term economic vitality to fall victim to partisan inaction. Wisconsinites are known for their commonsense, and I am ready to work with our delegation and the entire Congress to fight to avert these unnecessary and harmful measures.”
While Pocan and his Democratic colleagues are seeking to freeze student loan interest rates, House Republicans pushed through a bill in May that would tie the interest rate to the 10-year Treasury note (T-Note), leaving the cost of students' college education in the hands of Wall Street. In fact, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the projected rate by the time incoming freshman start re-paying their loans four years later would be 7.4 percent--higher than if Congress leaves the rates at 6.8 percent. At the end of the day, the GOP plan would mean more than 7 million low–and middle-income students would have to pay more for their student loans, and would increase student loan debt by almost $4 billion over the next decade.
The drastically increasing student loan debt held by Americans across the country can be considered nothing less than a crisis. Total student debt has tripled over the past eight years and now tops $1 trillion, exceeding all credit card debt in this country. The average student debt held by the class of 2011 in the United States is more than $26,000. And according to a study from One Wisconsin, it will take Wisconsinites on average almost 19 years to pay off their student loan debt from a four-year university, taking away money that could be spent in our local economies.