Posted In: Future Educators, Higher Education

Sen. Warren’s commonsense student loan refinancing bill fails to pass in the Senate

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by Colleen Flaherty

Although the week started on a positive note thanks to President Barack Obama’s executive order to help those struggling with student loan debt, Congress blocked a piece of legislation yesterday that would’ve helped millions in debt while asking the wealthy to pay their fair share.

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The final vote on Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act came to 56-38, just short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster and proceed to a floor debate.

“With this vote we show the American people who we work for in the United States Senate—billionaires or students,” said Warren on the Senate floor just minutes before the vote.

The bill would have allowed those with existing federal student loans and private loans in good standing to refinance at a lower rate to make repayment more manageable. In order to offset the cost of refinancing, the bill would have implemented the “Buffet Rule,” a minimum tax rate of 30 percent for individuals with incomes of $1 million or more.

The vote was not strictly along party lines as three Republicans—Susan Collins of Maine, Bob Corker of Tennessee and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska–voted for the bill.

“The debt that students past, present and future are saddled with is something we must address,” said Murkowski. “I believe that our college students deserve true improvements that work for every student, and I stand ready to work with any Senator on either side of the aisle to reach the goal of lowering the costs of higher education and getting our student debt to a more manageable level.”

Currently, more than 70 percent of America’s students borrow money to attend college, and the average student graduates from college owning nearly $30,000. Forty million Americans have student loan debt, which currently stands at a staggering $1.2 trillion, surpassing credit card debt.

“As President Obama said Monday, some in Congress are working hard to block any progress on this issue and any others that will help working families,” said Dennis Van Roekel, Arizona teacher and NEA president.

“Instead of fighting for working families and college affordability, some members of Congress are fighting to keep their millionaire constituents from paying their fair share of taxes. But the fact is, students and families desperately need fiscal relief. It’s past time to hold politicians accountable for meeting the needs of students.”

The exploding student loan debt—which grew by $31 billion just from January to March—will continue to hurt the economy and middle class families while making it more difficult for future generations to attend and pay for higher education.

“Educators believe all students should have a fair shot at a college education so they can pursue their dreams. Today’s students are tomorrow’s educators, doctors, nurses, engineers, and scientists—the next generation of innovators who will drive our country and our economy forward,” said Van Roekel.

Reader Comments

  1. Diane Moody

    What many people in Congress lose sight of is that students can and do vote. Many students have to borrow for tuition and living expenses, especially when attending state colleges and universities, which offer few scholarships. And then after they graduate, loans come due literally the next day whether they have a job or not. Many grads have to take whatever job they can find, sometimes out of their field…and make a lot less than ones in their field only to find that their payments exceed or take the bulk of their net earnings.

    States learned a long time ago; keep tuition affordable, keep those grads in their state. Those grads pay far more in taxes than they would have without their degrees AND the becomes a bit more attractive to potential employers looking for educated and trained employees and good school systems for employees kids.

    Many in Congress seem to act as if they live on another planet and not in the country that they claim to love, while making extremely short-sighted decisions that have far-reaching consequences for the entire nation. Back to the “I want MINE and the hell with the rest of you” thinking that is so contrary to the social contract that has been in place since colonial times.

    I was able to become the first college grad in my family in this country by attending a state college, working several jobs, many on campus, and National Student Defense loans. That took me five years, summer school, and included working on inventorying the college library 100,000 volume collection, and working in local hospital as a nurses. T aide. The result? I work 18 years as a social worker and staff trainer and 20 years as a librarian in schools and public libraries. I paid a lot of taxes, helped a lot of folks as a social worker, and educated a lot of kids, increased the readership at a public library. My husband did much the same thing.

    We raised two sons, both of whom served in the US Marine Corps, One was able to use his GI educational benefits and Ill vets program to become a paramedic. Illinois had a program that granted returning vets who mustered out in Illinois free tuition to state schools. The other used GI benefits for AA and BS. Later got an MS in Chemistry, partially funded by grant from university and the rest by LOANS that he’ll probably never be able to pay off…if and when he can find a job.

    I am so tired of mean-spirited, selfish, ignorant people pontificating about “those people taking OUR tax money.” Low income workers pay TAXES, too. The deal has always been that one generation pays taxes to support school and communities for the next, who in turn pay their fair share for the next group. Let’s face it, probably 90% of us are the offspring and heirs of immigrants.

    Reply
  2. Elizabeth Jayne Colgrove

    I am an adult learner. I graduated from college in 1987.
    when I went to college, in aq Vermont State college I felt very lucky. I started repaying my laons, almoet immediately after graduating. Today is 27 years later. The amount of my loans that I owe today is the same as it was when I graduated. All my payments, and those that have been garnished when I went into default status is the same today as it was at the time that I started paying for them. I have become discouraged.

    I think that the time that I worked in a targetted high school should count toward the loan and give me a deduction. It doesn’t work this way, the interest rate of these loans is so high once it is started paid for that I don’t see how anyone can ever see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    The fact that I worked in a targetted school should have given me a break. Low income schools, and other factors should have been considereed. Lets face it at my age and the fact that becasue I am not employed at this time means that it will take longer to pay for. Some of the monies used to pay for my education were suppose to be grants and not to be repaid.

    But tell me if I owe a certain amount and I am paying, shouldn”t I have seen a reduction in the amount I owed. I have contacted my congressman and senator and yet I have not heard from them, nor have I heard from them about a forgiveness of loan, which is also one I applied for when I became financially compromised. It has not happened, however there are shark companies out there who are willing to help me but the interest rate accumulated represent many thousands of dollars just for the help there “provide”

    Thank you for listening.

    ORKED FOR 13 YEARS IN

    Reply
  3. DTreon

    Senator Warren and others…please make sure that this bill includes Parent Plus loans that have been taken out to advance their children’s education. We need help, too!

    Reply
  4. Marilyn Dinard

    WE need to show solidarity in AMERICA and cut these rediculous costly student loans. It DOESNT pay in the longrun to see someone be in debt for years in order to have the career of their choice.
    It is not longer feasible to believe that our future education is deserved by saddling our American students with debt they can’t afford.

    Reply

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