WASHINGTON -Today, U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, which would allow those with outstanding student loan debt to refinance at the lower interest rates currently offered to new borrowers. The bill has 19 additional cosponsors.
Many borrowers with outstanding student loans have interest rates of nearly 7 percent or higher for undergraduate loans, while students taking out new undergraduate loans pay a rate of 3.86 percent under the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act passed by Congress last summer. The Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act would allow our students and young people to pay back their outstanding loans at the same rates that Senate Republicans overwhelmingly embraced just last summer as appropriate for new borrowers.
“The cost of a college education has soared to prohibitively high levels, preventing countless prospective students from getting a degree and the opportunities that come with it,” said Murphy. “Allowing students to refinance their loans will make college more affordable for millions of people, plain and simple. College affordability is one of the middle class issues of our time, and I’m proud to support this bill to help more people reach their goals and succeed.”
“Present student debt is crippling – economically, emotionally and morally – making this measure an historic imperative,” said Blumenthal. “Young people are postponing purchases likes homes and cars and delaying major life decisions – whether to get married and when to have children – because of crushing student loan debt. We should reward students who invest in their education, not punish them with high interest rates or profit off their backs. By allowing students to refinance their loans, this bill will give graduates a fair shot at better lives and brighter futures.”
“Exploding student loan debt is crushing young people and dragging down our economy,” said Warren. “Allowing students to refinance their loans would put money back in the pockets of people who invested in their education. These students didn't go to the mall and run up charges on a credit card. They worked hard and learned new skills that will benefit this country and help us build a stronger middle class and a stronger America.”
There are nearly 40 million Americans with outstanding student loans. The Bank on Students Emergency Refinancing Act could lower payments for millions of those individuals by hundreds or thousands of dollars a year. The average student loan debt among those who borrow to get a bachelor’s degree is nearly $30,000 – and a shocking 30% of Federal Direct student loan dollars are in default, forbearance, or deferment. Meanwhile, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently projected that the government will bring in $66 billion in revenue on its federal student loans made between 2007 and 2012.
The legislation is fully funded by enacting the Buffett Rule, which would limit special tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans that allow millionaires and billionaires to pay lower effective tax rates than middle class families. A companion bill is being introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives John Tierney (D-Mass.) and George Miller (D-Calif.), the senior Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
Earlier this year, Murphy introduced the College Affordability and Innovation Act with Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). This legislation aims to put an end to rising college costs and ensure students of all backgrounds have access to quality education with less of a need to take out costly student loans. Specifically, the bill would incentivize schools to create new, innovative programs to bring down the cost of college while improving the quality of a degree. The bill would also set new standards for schools that receive federal funding so that they’re more accountable to students and taxpayers.