Keeping College Affordable

Congressman Gerry Connolly
2013-06-21 12:34:44
Congressman Gerry E. Connolly - Representing the 11th District of Virginia Dear Friend, One year ago, the House Republican leadership relented to public pressure and agreed to support legislation to prevent the doubling of Stafford student loan interest rates from 3.4% to 6.8%. But they only provided for a 12-month extension of the lower rates. Now, the consequence of their short-term fix is once again upon us. Congress must revisit this issue by July 1 or college students and middle-class families will be saddled with billions of dollars in additional student loan debt. Late last month, the House majority rammed through legislation that would increase student loan costs for more than 7 million students. �Instead of working in a bipartisan manner to enact a responsible plan to help students by stopping arbitrary hikes in student loan interest rates, they passed a bill, H.R. 1911,that actually makes college loans more expensive and less predictable for students and their families. The House majority�s legislation is even more reckless than if Congress did nothing.� Their legislation would do away with fixed interest rates on student loans and allow the rate to be adjusted each year.� This is the same type of thinking that created the adjustable rate mortgages for homeowners and helped fuel the housing bust that forced millions of Americans into foreclosure. The Congressional Research Service estimates that, under H.R. 1911, students who borrow the maximum amount of subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans over five years would pay nearly $2,000 more in interest costs than if Congress did nothing and interest rates doubled. �The net effect of this bill is that student debt will increase by an additional $3.7 billion over the next 10 years. � [image = connolly.congressnewsletter.net//images/user_images/Student Loan Debt.jpg] � I am committed to preserving a lowstudent loan interest rate and will oppose any efforts to further burden student loan borrowers with debt they will carry for decades. We cannot afford to scale back the historic investments our nation has made to make college more accessible to, and affordable for, students and their families. I was proud to support increasing the maximum Pell Grant award to the current level of $5,550, and opposed the recent House Ryan budget proposal to cut Pell Grant funding by $166 billion and reduce benefits for 9 million students. �In addition, I was pleased to help pass an increase in the tuition tax credit from $1,800 to $2,500. That tax credit alone has helped 4 million low-income students and their families achieve their dreams of attending college. �I also supported legislation to allow qualified borrowers to deduct up to $2,500 on interest paid on their student loans. The clock is ticking down to July 1.� Congress must act to preserve the American dream of attending college. �Access to higher education is essential for today�s young people to succeed in the modern, global economy. Expanding access to and the affordability of higher education benefits is important not only for our young people and their families, but also for our nation�s future economic competitiveness and security.�I will continue to push for a long-term solution to the growing costs of college education but let�s not put today�s students on the hook for Congress� inaction. I welcome your thoughts on this issue and other issues that may be of interest to you. Sincerely, Sincerely, [image = connolly.congressnewsletter.net/images/user_images/Connollysig.jpg] Gerald E. Connolly Member of Congress 11th District of Virginia
June 21, 2013

Dear Friend,

One year ago, the House Republican leadership relented to public pressure and agreed to support legislation to prevent the doubling of Stafford student loan interest rates from 3.4% to 6.8%. But they only provided for a 12-month extension of the lower rates.

Now, the consequence of their short-term fix is upon us. Congress must revisit this issue by July 1 or college students and middle-class families will be saddled with billions of dollars in additional student loan debt.

Late last month, the House majority passed legislation that would increase student loan costs for more than 7 million students. Instead of working in a bipartisan manner to enact a responsible plan to help students by stopping arbitrary hikes in student loan interest rates, they passed a bill, H.R. 1911, that actually makes college loans more expensive and less predictable for students and their families.

The House majority�s legislation is worse than if Congress did nothing. Their legislation would do away with fixed interest rates on student loans and allow the rate to be adjusted each year. This is the same type of thinking that created the adjustable rate mortgages for homeowners and helped fuel the housing bust that forced millions of Americans into foreclosure.

The Congressional Research Service estimates that, under H.R. 1911, students who borrow the maximum amount of subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans over five years would pay nearly $2,000 more in interest costs than if Congress did nothing and interest rates doubled. The net effect of this bill is that student debt will increase by an additional $3.7 billion over the next 10 years.

 

(Figures provided by the Congressional Research Service)

I am committed to preserving a low student loan interest rate and will oppose any efforts to further burden borrowers with debt they will carry for decades. We cannot afford to scale back the historic investments our nation has made to make college more accessible to, and affordable for, students and their families.

I was proud to support increasing the maximum Pell Grant award to the current level of $5,550, and opposed the recent House Ryan budget proposal to cut Pell Grant funding by $166 billion and reduce benefits for 9 million students. In addition, I was pleased to help pass an increase in the tuition tax credit from $1,800 to $2,500. According to Treasury, that tax credit alone has helped 9.4 million students and their families achieve their dreams of attending college. I also supported legislation to allow qualified borrowers to deduct up to $2,500 on interest paid on their student loans.

The clock is ticking down to July 1. Congress must act to preserve the American dream of attending college. Access to higher education is essential for today�s young people to succeed in the modern, global economy. Expanding access to and the affordability of higher education benefits is important not only for our young people and their families, but also for our nation�s future economic competitiveness and security. I will continue to push for a long-term solution to the growing costs of college education but let�s not put today�s students on the hook for Congress� inaction.

I welcome your thoughts on this issue and other issues that may be of interest to you.

Sincerely,


Gerald E. Connolly
Member of Congress
11th District of Virginia

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