Pocan Pushes for Action to Prevent Student Loan Rates from Doubling for 160,000 Wisconsin Students
WASHINGTON – With less than 20 days till student loan interest rates will double for nearly 160,000 Wisconsin students, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan is taking action to force a vote to prevent this unnecessary financial strain. 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. If Congress does not act, on July 1 the interest rates on these loans will double from 3.4% to 6.8%--costing students about $1,000 more per year on average.
“If Congress can find the time to vote 37 times on fruitless attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, surely we can find time to support our students striving to advance themselves through higher education,” Pocan said. “At a time when a college degree is more important than ever to obtaining reliable employment, we are in grave danger of pricing too many of our young students out of a college education. Instead of trying to balance our budget on the backs of our students, we need to be increasing opportunities to pursue college diplomas. I urge my Republican colleagues to work with us and freeze these student loan rates before it is too late.”
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 is more than $26,000. 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.
Democrats are launching this discharge petition to force action on this broadly supported legislation because Republican leadership has refused to move forward on the bill. The Student Loan Relief Act, which is cosponsored by Pocan along with more than 150 other members, was introduced by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) on April 17, 2013, but Republicans have failed to schedule a hearing or a mark-up on the bill. A discharge petition requires the House to consider the legislation once a majority of Members of Congress (218) have signed it.