slides: Clock Ticking on Student Loan Time Bomb
Saturday, June 23, 2012
With a deal still not in place to avert student loan rates from doubling by July 1, GoLocalProv asked the state’s top political figures and candidates to weigh in why avoiding a massive increase is so vital.
Chairman of Democratic Party:
"It is crucial that the student loan fixed interest rate is not allowed to expire on July 1. The doubling of student loan debt would serve as a barrier to many Americans hoping to attend college and future graduates. Republicans need to put their stonewalling tactics aside and Congress must act. Americans across this country deserve the ability to have affordable higher education within their reach."
"According to a 2010 report by the Project on Student Debt, the average Rhode Island student had over $26,000 in debt. Access to higher education is crucial for students to succeed in a global economy and we must ensure this education is affordable to retain our country's competitive edge. Right now, House Republicans are refusing to prevent the rate increase unless we cut off access for low-income families to key health care services. This is a false choice when we have fair ways to pay for the lower rate. We must find a way to get this done without adding to the burdens of education or health care costs for so many families struggling to make ends meet.”
"The larger question is runaway costs of higher education in publicly subsidized public colleges and universities. Politicians should have long ago examined this issue and provided workable solutions. The fact is despite the ever increasing infusion of taxpayer dollars into these schools, tuition and room and board go up every year. College costs have outpaced inflation for nearly two decades. Meanwhile, we are creating a generation of young people who emerge from college campuses saddled with massive debt totaling nearly 1 trillion dollars and few prospects for good paying jobs, at least in the short term. We need to provide a healthy environment for hiring these students by having sensible economic policies focused on stability and growth, rather than deficit spending.”
"As a father of college students, I know we all want our young people to have access to the highest quality education they can afford. But I think we need to step back and take a broader look at what is going on. As a practical matter, I doubt very much that in an election year Congress is going to allow the student loan rate to nearly double and instead the fight is over how to pay for this subsidy. I guess some consider it good politics to make families and students worry about something that isn't going to happen.''
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse
“Educational debt is already a significant burden for our students, and allowing rates to double would be a terrible mistake. Senator Reed has been a real leader in the effort to prevent this rate hike, and I’m committed to working with him to protect Rhode Island students.”
"In these difficult economic times and with so many college graduates facing dim prospects for employment, it is imperative that we not allow the student loan interest rate to double. As I have said before, both parties must look to a workable solution for extending the current rates while not increasing the deficit. Unfortunately, our leaders have played political football with this important issue and, once again, we find ourselves hoping that a solution comes before a fast-approaching deadline.
"We all agree that reducing the financial burden on holders of student loans will accelerate the productivity and therefore the growth of our overall economy. The dilemma we face is the question of where to shift that financial burden. Extending student loan relief is a great idea. All we have to do now is decide which line item in the federal expense budget is going to take that extra cost. Social Security and Medicare are bad choices as they simply shift the burden from students to seniors. Our only question is ‘Where Is the money going to come from?"
"So many Rhode Island families are struggling with how to afford to send their kids to college. Promoting access to quality education is key to getting our economy back on the right track. It's wrong that if no action is taken the interest rates on student loans will double, causing tremendous hardship for students and their families," said Cicilline. "Since this February, I have been working to pass legislation that would prevent student loan interest rates from doubling on July 1st. With only a week to go before this deadline, I urge my Republican colleagues to stop playing political games and protect our nation's young people from an unnecessary interest rate hike."
“I first want to congratulate those Representatives on both sides of the aisle that came together last month in order to pass a cap on student loan interest rates and help our recent college graduates despite a veto threat by the President. Unfortunately our sitting Senators, including Senator Whitehouse, are engaging in hyper-partisianship and refuse to pass the House bill. Students across the country, and especially Rhode Island, are now struggling to find a job more than ever. The unemployment rate for 20-24 year olds is an embarrassing 12.9%. And now, at a time when so many young adults are trying to make ends meet, we have career politicians playing political games. It is shameful. What we need, and one of the reasons I am running, is a pro-growth economic policy. The young entrepreneurial spirit has been dampened by the continued failed policies of Washington insiders. We need to resurrect the private sector and get our graduates into the jobs that they have worked so hard for. The time is over for political theatre and campaign gimmicks. It’s time to get these kids back to work. It’s time to get Rhode Island back to work. It’s time for our elected officials to look out for us.”
“I have been pushing to get this done since January and it has been an uphill climb. But I am hopeful we can reach an agreement to avert the doubling of student loan interest rates on millions of college students. But a lot depends on whether Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor can put aside ideology for the sake of students and fixing the economy."
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