Future Educators

Senate GOP blocks student loan refinance bill from vote

by Colleen Flaherty

“Students want degrees, not debt,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), opening up debate on Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) student loan refinancing bill.

Unfortunately, Senate Republicans blocked Warren’s bill today, the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, which would have helped millions of Americans with existing federal student loans and private loans in good standing to refinance at a lower rate to make repayment more manageable.

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“Millions of young people are just stuck,” said Warren. “All because they are struggling under the weight of student loan debt.”

The objection by the Senate GOP was the inclusion of the Buffet rule to pay for the legislation, a minimum tax rate of 30 percent for individuals with incomes of $1 million or more.

“It’s just an approach to make this fair. It’s for people who make millions a year or even billions a year, asking them to pay what the rest of us pay, what middle class Americans pay,” said Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.). “This is just fair. It’s the least we can do.”

Franken meme

It’s clear that many in the Senate prioritize special interests over the the forty million Americans that have student loan debt. More than 70 percent of America’s students borrow money to attend college, and the average student graduates from college owning nearly $30,000. The act would have allowed an estimated 25 million student loan borrowers to refinance at a lower rate.

Last week, hundreds of people from across the country shared stories of what it’s like to live with crippling student loan debt. Here are just a handful:

I currently owe over $120,000 in federal student loan debt. I work for a public program providing Early Intervention services as a physical therapist, but because I am married and file my taxes jointly with my husband, I was informed that I do not qualify for public service loan forgiveness because we make ‘too much’ money with our combined salaries. However, because of my student loan debt, we have had to make decisions to delay buying a house, buying a car, and having children. It’s taking us a long time to save up enough money to do these things and avoid adding to our debt, because we believe in living within our means and only purchasing what we can afford each month.

It is sad that, while I chose to go into public service and dedicate my professional career to helping others overcome disability and other hurdles, I am punished with a crushing debt that prevents us from diving into The American Dream. As children, we were told college was the immediate gateway to success: ‘Go to college, then you’ll get a good job.’ But how are we supposed to boost the economy and in turn support the jobs of others with our purchases and spending if we cannot afford to do it?

– Ashleigh W, Beaverton, OR

A good friend just shared with me that her student debt is $64,000; she is expected to pay over $1000 a month. A single mom with 3 kids, she has a ‘good’ job, but the student loan will take nearly one half of her take home pay! My daughter just received her LPN degree, it scares me to think what her student debt will be. Living in a low income area (these people need good nurses, too) she will never make enough to pay off her loan.

– Jacki C., Fairfield Bay, AR

I am a special education teacher who has her Master’s degree. I have worked in a rural school with high poverty rates. My student loan debt now totals $100,000 dollars. I love teaching and could never imagine doing anything else, however I have three children who I support. I make $33,000 dollars a year and spend hundreds each year of my own money on students. I don’t want a free ride.

I want to pay back my debt, but the $1,000 a month student loan payments I am expected to pay are not doable for me. I am told that $500 a month should be affordable for me to pay. I wish that was a reality; however, I am struggling to provide daycare, shelter and food for my family.

– Jessica B., Sedalia, MO

When I went college in the 1970s, I was a single parent and was able to get government student loans with an interest rate of 1-3 percent. I graduated and was able to easily pay off the loans while working and going to school.

Today my nephew has non-governmental student loans with an exorbitant interest rate. Therefore, he won’t be able to afford decent housing even though he has a teaching position at a university and a working wife.

What’s wrong with this picture?

– Donna W., Silver Spring, MD

My granddaughter graduated this year with an overwhelming debt of over $50,000. She and her husband both work entry level jobs, and they are expecting their first child. They are currently living with her parents because they cannot afford their own home.

I think it is unconscionable that the government subsidizes industries which are making record profits, while making money, along with the banking industry, on the backs of our young people who have had their chances to live a comfortable and productive life strangled by debt. Students should at least be allowed to refinance at the same interest rate that is allowed the Wall Street banks. These debts should be eligible for bankruptcy as well since most students and their parents are essentially bankrupt by the time they graduate.

The government should be creating solutions for these young citizens who could contribute to the economic growth of America instead of furthering the greed of those who essentially steal from this country.

– Ann R., Littlefield, TX

I knew beginning my college experience that I wanted more than a degree, I wanted a career. I found Speech-Language Pathology in my junior year and needed to complete the prerequisites before even applying for graduate school, which is required to practice. After 5 long years of undergrad, my hard work paid off and I was accepted into an out-of state graduate program. I had found my career. I knew the instant I began this was the right path for me. And two years later I can finally start practicing.

But my new job comes with a mountain of student loan debt. I am in more debt that I could have ever imagined before starting college. However, I try to tell myself each day that I will get through this because I will love my job. I can say that my hard work will allow me to help others for the rest of my life, and I’m proud of that. I’m proud of my accomplishments and my chosen career, I just wish I didn’t have the cloud of debt hanging over my head each day.

– Hannah D., Milwaukee, WI

Has student loan debt affected you or someone you know? Share your story with us!

7 responses to “Senate GOP blocks student loan refinance bill from vote

  1. Follow the money! The way the system works now is- Wall Street investments affect the wealth of approx. the top 10% of the USA populous because they are the ones with enough discretionary cash lying around to invest, and Wall Street affects our IRAs and pension investments. So that’s good, right? So it makes a lot of sense that Wall Streets record gains are a priority for our top 10% because they reportedly own 80% of the USA’s unfathomable wealth. And as long as employing sweatshops along the Pacific Rim (China- $1.36/hr. avg. wage, some work for 30 cents/hr., Vietnam- 75 cents/hr.) is as profitable as it is in the age of “multinationals,” what good is the unskilled USA workforce that earns at least $7.25/hr.? We’re a business liability; red ink. Thus, the record unemployment of a once gainfully employed USA workforce that once paid into local, state and federal treasuries right off of their paychecks (no long term capital gains, tax deferred annuities, etc. in which to hide their earnings) instead of being a drain on them. Pity our kids graduating from Colleges, a must to qualify for even entry level positions in today’s workforce, with $60K in loan debt and no jobs available in which to get a foothold…
    The GOP answer is for our workforce to capitulate to the downward pressure. You see this in “right to work” (for less) states and the demonization of Labor Unions. But how will that affect our standard of living, our middle class tax base, and the future viability of our consumer market (once we max out our credit cards…)?
    Germany, a fellow member of the WTO, places a stiff tariff (19%) on imports to keep German wages high, and if you try to dump (a term used to describe the practice of selling products cheaper than it costs to make them due to government subsidies), like China tried to do to get a foot in the door of German markets, they’ll level an 85% VAT on top of that! (Guess it takes a woman to stand up to BIG $$$).
    Moneyed interest has purchased the mighty USA; the banks and corporations are writing policy and pulling the strings in our representative form of government. Our children’s interests are a distant concern in this age of “profits first.”

  2. Every one of the persons above who write about their extreme student loan situations made the choice to borrow the money. We’re they I’ll advised? We’re they not aware the loans would have to be repaid?

    Now they expect everyone else through federally supported loan forgiveness to rescue them. Sadly, our Legislature and administration are willing to penalize the rest of through minimizing interest the earning potential off the savings we are depending on for a reasonable retirement.

    Respectfully

    1. Student loan interest rates were doubled to 6.7% in the middle of my son’s college education. Was he ill advised to take the loan rather than drop out of school? Perhaps, but when a student is already invested in graduating, they take the loan with the higher interest and pray they will be able to afford the payments. It is not as simple as you make it out to be. We need the interest rates that were doubled to be brought back down so that our young workers have a chance to succeed.

  3. Dennis asks a fair question… One he could answer if he did some research and stopped being manipulated by Democratic talking points. The debacle we call student loans was created when student loans became part of Obamacare legislation. Why the Democrats wanted federal control of a program which had worked privately so long is fairly simple. They control amounts given out, to whom, how much, and interest. Then they have the audacity to blame their creation on Republicans. Step one would be to remove it from Obamacare , make needed changes and get the government out of it. Democrats will never give up their greedy control. Are you willing to adopt someone’s student loan to pay their $100,000 off for them? Why would someone commit to a loan that size? They were naive, yes, but the government which allows them to do so is wicked
    As for the “Buffet” attachment to the law the GOP refused??? Those making so much now pay, according to government records, 47% of all income taxes collected each year..and the bottom wage earners @ $30,000 and less pay @4% or all tax money collected. The rest of us pay 60%. We need jobs yet Democrats want amnesty to allow foreign students to take the jobs our kids with high loans because they went to top expensive colleges deserve. Didn’t several companies just lay off 18,000 workers and then complain they needed amnesty so they could find workers? Those are a few reasons to vote Republican. Use some research skills. Visit newsbusters to see which issues our press ignores
    Or visit Breitbart. These sites don’t manipulate or ignore issues. You never would have asked your question if you had the facts you needed.

    1. Linda, concerning the student loan crisis, I have personal experience with private banks that make student loans, I will share, even though I will be exposing my lack of business savy by doing so. I am paying down 2 of my son’s loans while he finishes up school. One was a Citibank student loan, one was an AES (American Education Services) Loan. The Citibank loan was bought up by Discover. I looked at the minimum payment requirement, and the interest rate set a 9.5% (high, but not unreasonable). Assuming that the 9.5% would be covered, I decided to pay the minimum payment plus an arbitrary amount of an additional $100 per monthly payment on my son’s loan. I set up automatic payments to be taken out of my bank account each month for the last 3 years, believing that I was paying it down. At the beginning of this summer, I asked my son for his password on the Discover student loan account to see what the balance was.
      It was originally a $9,000 loan, and I paid in over $3,000 in 3 years. The balance was… ready for this?.. $11,045. Shame on me for not paying closer attention to the account, granted. But after paying in over $3000, I am out $5,000 on a $9,000 loan. Everyone knows this is gouging, but should this even be legal? The AES government loan that I have been employing the same payment strategy; $100 over the minimum payment has been substantially reduced, as expected. THAT is the difference between a government loan and those of the private sector.

    2. Linda, it sounds to me like you have been influenced by the rhetoric.

      The GOP has no rival when it comes to divisive, disingenuous, and down right deceptive rhetoric. Look into the propaganda manifesto, “The Integration of Theory and Practice” by Weyrich and Heubeck. It would make Joseph Goebbels blush (Nazi propaganda was required to at least be based on truth…)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T

      See “Selected Excerpts” in the link for a look into today’s disingenuous political “debate” of the issues…

      C&P from link:

      “This essay is based on the belief that the truth of an idea is not the primary reason for its acceptance. Far more important is the energy and dedication of the idea’s promoters—in other words, the individuals composing a social or political movement…”

      “There will be three main stages in the unfolding of this movement. The first stage will be devoted to the development of a highly motivated elite able to coordinate future activities. The second stage will be devoted to the development of institutions designed to make an impact on the wider elite and a relatively small minority of the masses. The third stage will involve changing the overall character of American popular culture…”

      You see this deceptive rhetoric all the time in right wing talking points. It hit me in 2010 when I saw the GOP website claim, “Obamacare Flatlines: Obamacare Taxes Homesales at 3.8%: Clobbers Middle class. Turns out it was a capital gains type tax on home sales that exceeded $250,000 in profit. Only the first dollar over the $250K was taxed at 3.8%. How many middle class citizens’ homes sell for a gain of $250K. Deceptive rhetoric to stir anger, fear, and the worst in human instinct.

  4. Why would anyone with a student loan, or any of their relatives, vote Republican? Republican values are in sharp relief here!

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