BURLINGTON, July 1 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said today that Congress must act immediately to pass legislation which retroactively restores the interest rate on subsidized Stafford student loans back to 3.4 percent. As a result of Congressional inaction, interest rates on these loans doubled to 6.8 percent today.
On June 6, Sanders voted with a majority of senators to maintain the 3.4 percent rates. Unfortunately, there were not enough votes to overcome a Republican filibuster. The rising interest rates affect 7 million students nationally and more than 19,000 Vermonters.
Sanders said: “Student debt in this country -- which at $1.1 trillion is now more than credit card debt -- is one of the major financial crises our country faces. In Vermont and America, more and more students hesitate to get a higher education because they fear the debt they will be saddled with upon graduation. In Vermont, the average student graduates college with $28,860 in debt, which is more than the national average.”
“If the United States is going to be competitive in the global economy, we must have the best educated workforce possible,” said Sanders, who serves on the Senate education committee. “We must encourage young people of all income levels to expand their educational opportunities, not make it harder.”
“Short term, Congress must extend the subsidized Stafford student loan program at 3.4 percent. It will be devastating to families in Vermont and throughout the country to allow those rates to double. Long term, at a time when higher education in this country is far more expensive than in any other country, the Higher Education Act must be overhauled so that higher education is affordable for every young person who has the ability and desire to continue their education.”