Speaking at the University of North Carolina today, President Obama talked college affordability—an issue that hit home for many students in the crowd. If Congress fails to act, interest rates on new federal student loans will double on July 1st—so the President is asking all of us speak up, and demand that Congress do the right thing:
Five years ago, Congress cut the rate on federal student loans in half. That was a good thing to do. But on July 1st—that’s a little over two months from now—that rate cut expires. And if Congress does nothing, the interest rates on those loans will double overnight.
So I’m assuming a lot of people here have federal student loans. The interest rates will double unless Congress acts by July 1st. And just to give you some sense of perspective—for each year that Congress doesn’t act, the average student with these loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt—an extra thousand dollars. That’s basically a tax hike for more than 7 million students across America—more than 160,000 students here in North Carolina alone. Anybody here can afford to pay an extra $1,000 right now?
I didn’t think so. So stopping this from happening should be a no-brainer. Helping more of our young people afford college, that should be at the forefront of America’s agenda. It shouldn’t be a Republican or a Democratic issue. This is an American issue.
The Stafford loans we’re talking about, they’re named after a Republican senator. The Pell Grants that have helped millions of Americans earn a college education, [those are] named after a Democratic senator. When Congress cut those rates five years ago, 77 Republicans in the House of Representatives voted for it—along with a couple hundred Democrats—including the Democrats who are here.
So this shouldn’t be a partisan issue. And yet, the Republicans who run Congress right now have not yet said whether or not they’ll stop your rates from doubling. We’re two months away.
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