Sanders: Make College More Affordable

WASHINGTON, June 9 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today welcomed an executive order by President Barack Obama to limit student loan payments to no more than 10 percent of a borrower’s monthly income.

“Millions of American families are struggling to repay student loans. Capping payments at no more than 10 percent of income is one way to help,” said Sanders, a member of the Senate education committee. He also endorsed Obama’s proposal to help students make better-informed choices about which student loan repayment options are best for them.

Meanwhile, the Senate this week is expected to take up legislation that would let college graduates with heavy debts refinance their loans. Sanders backs the bill by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to address what he called “the crisis of college affordability impacting millions of middle-class and working families.”

Separately, Sanders has proposed his own legislation to bring down college costs.

Sanders’ proposal would expand programs that allow high school juniors and seniors to take college-level classes and earn credit that counts toward both high school and college graduation. The approach reduces the cost and time necessary to complete a college degree. The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jack Reed (D-R.I,), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and John D. Rockefeller (D-W. Va).

The average four-year college graduate in Vermont owes $28,000 in student loans, $1,000 more than the national average. Nationwide, the price of a four-year college education increased over the past decade at a rate 43 percent greater than the rate of inflation as states slashed funding for their public higher education systems. Student debt has tripled since 2004.

“If we want to seriously address this problem, we must make college much more affordable,” Sanders said