by Colleen Flaherty
Last week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced the Bank of Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act to help the 40 million Americans struggling with student loan debt.
The act—which has 29 co-sponsors in the Senate—and a similar bill in the House would allow those with student debt to refinance at the current low rate. In order to cover the cost of refinancing, the bill would implement the “Buffet Rule,” a minimum tax rate of 30 percent for individuals with incomes of $1 million or more to ensure the wealthiest pay their fair share to help the 99 percent of Americans affected by this growing debt.
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“This debt is crushing our former students. It is crushing our families. And it’s starting to create a drag on our economy,” said Warren.
Who else is joining Warren to speak up for the more than 70 percent of America’s students who have to borrow money to attend college?
Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin
In her role on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) alongside Warren, the Wisconsin senator continues her fight to make higher education affordable. As a U.S. Representative, she voted for several bills to help college students, including the overhaul of the student loan program, which took away more than $60 million of profit that big banks were making off of students, all while working to prevent student loan interest rates from skyrocketing.
“Making college affordable is one of the most important steps we can take toward building a strong path to the middle class for all Americans,” said Baldwin.
Alaska Sen. Mark Begich
Mark Begich has fought for college students to borrow at lower rates and aims to keep college attainable and affordable for those who want to attend.
“By allowing students to refinance at a lower rate, and giving them more flexible repayment options, we give the opportunity of higher education to millions of students without the crippling burden of debt too many individuals currently face,” said Begich, whose home state of Alaska has student debt averaging $28,782.
Washington Sen. Patty Murray
Patty Murray has shown herself to be a friend to students and working families time and time again, whether it was expanding Pell Grant funding, fighting for a fair minimum wage or crafting and passing a budget that was better for public schools and the middle class.
“Too many Americans across the country are struggling right now with the overbearing financial weight of college debt, and that needs to change,” said Murray.
California Sen. Barbara Boxer
Barbara Boxer has spent much of her career fighting for higher education accessibility, including her support of the DREAM Act and her support of increasing Pell Grants. She now joins Warren to fight for those who have been able to get their degree only to find themselves drowning in debt.
Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow
“Today, too many people are saddled with decades of debt just because they wanted a fair shot to go to college and get ahead,” said Debbie Stabenow on behalf of her constituents in Michigan where the average student loan debt is a staggering $28,840.
As the national student debt currently stands at $1.2 trillion, Stabenow supports the bill to “make college more affordable and to help borrowers who are already weighed down by exploding and unsustainable levels of student debt.”
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
“While a higher education remains the clearest path into the middle class, more of our graduates and middle class families are burdened by student loans than ever before and are struggling to repay a higher amount of debt than ever before,” said Kirsten Gillibrand.
“This high amount of student debt is dragging down our economy, stopping graduates from buying homes and cars, or starting businesses and families. The solution is right in front of us—our graduates should be able to refinance their debt in the same way that our businesses and homeowners do.”
Colorado Sen. Mark Udall
Mark Udall has fought to keep college affordable, and now he is supporting legislation to help the 760,000 Coloradans who have outstanding federal loans, according to U.S. Department of Education estimates.
“This common-sense bill would allow students to benefit from today’s low interest rates and could amount to hundreds or thousands of dollars a year in savings. I am committed to working to keep tuition rates affordable, but this bill is essential to help today’s students save money and invest in their futures,” said Udall.