Sanders: Obama Must Withdraw Support for Dangerous Student Loan Agreement

BURLINGTON, Vt., July 22 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today urged President Obama to withdraw his support for a dangerous bill likely to cause a substantial jump in college loan interest rates for students and parents in years to come. 

Under a so-called bipartisan proposal, interest rates would go up in five years to 7.25 percent for undergraduate loans, according to Congressional Budget Office projections. An undergraduate student could be forced to pay $5,462 more over the life of a loan than they would have been charged under rates in effect for the past two years. If the same CBO projections come true, parents by 2018 would be charged 9.7 percent on college loans.

“At a time when the average student is graduating from a four-year college $27,000 in debt, when hundreds of thousands of capable young people no longer see college as an option because of high costs and when the U.S. is falling further and further behind our economic competitors in terms of the percentage of young people graduating from college, no agreement should be passed which, over a period of years, makes a bad situation worse and will make college even less affordable than it is today,” Sanders said.

“At a time when Democrats control the White House and the U.S. Senate, we should not support bad legislation almost identical to that passed by a very conservative, Republican-led House. Our job is to listen to the people who elected us and stand up for working families and their kids, not make their lives more difficult.”

The Senate could vote as early as Tuesday on the student loan legislation. Sanders has proposed an amendment that would place a two-year limit on the deal. Adding a so-called sunset provision to the bill would give Congress time to focus on ways to make college more affordable before economists expect the significant interest rate increase to take effect. The Senate education committee is scheduled next year to take up legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.