The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Christine Lindstrom, U.S. PIRG
(o) 617-747-4330, (c) 617-308-1063

U.S. PIRG, U.S. Representatives Bass and Courtney Speak on Legislative Solutions to Student Debt Crisis

Today Marks One-Year Anniversary of Student Loan Debt Crossing $1 Trillion


U.S. Representatives Joe Courtney (D-CT) and Karen Bass (D-CA) were joined today by student advocacy groups including the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG), the United States Student Association, Young Invincibles, and Campus Progress to highlight legislative solutions to rein in student loan debt. One year ago today, the United States' total amount of student debt crossed the $1 trillion dollar mark.

The nation's high level of student debt underscores the urgent situation faced by students and families. In addition, without action by Congress, the interest rate on subsidized Stafford student loans is set to double to 6.8 percent on July 1. Loan costs would increase by $1,000 per student per loan for more than seven million borrowers.

"The question is how best to subsidize the educational loan program so that it continues to encourage higher education, rather than be an additional barrier," said Christine Lindstrom, Higher Education Project Director for U.S. PIRG. "Until we can answer this question adequately, we need to keep the low fixed rate on subsidized Stafford student loans in place for another two years. With the looming July 1 deadline, Congress and the President must act soon."

Rep. Courtney promoted his legislation, H.R. 1595, which would prevent the interest rate on subsidized Stafford student loans for undergraduate students from doubling on July 1. Courtney's legislation would lock in the current low interest rate for two years so that Congress can work on a long-term solution to the student debt crisis.

Rep. Bass's legislation, H.R. 1330, would allow debt forgiveness of up to $45,000 after eligible borrowers have made 10 years of payments at 10 percent of their discretionary income. Additionally, the legislation calls for suspending interest rates while borrowers are unemployed and looking for work.

Student advocates will soon deliver more than 100,000 signatures to Congress in support of extending the low rate on subsidized Stafford student loans.

U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), stands up to powerful special interests on behalf of the American public, working to win concrete results for our health and our well-being. With a strong network of researchers, advocates, organizers and students in state capitols across the country, we take on the special interests on issues, such as product safety,political corruption, prescription drugs and voting rights,where these interests stand in the way of reform and progress.