The bill, H.R. 3826, comes on the heels of the President’s State of the Union address where he challenged Congress to extend the current loan interest rate of 3.4 percent.
“At a time when Americans owe more in tuition debt than credit card debt, this Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling in July,” said the President during his address to the nation.
Rep. Ellison (D-Minn.) said H.R. 3826 fulfills the President’s request to ensure that interest rates for undergraduate Stafford Loans do not double this summer. If congress does not act, the current interest rate for student loans will hike to 6.8 percent.
“We’ve got to make college more affordable,” said Ellison. “When a student gets out of college, that student should be adding to the economy; purchasing a car, a home, etc., but he or she can’t because of student loan debt.” Ellison asserted the average American student graduates with about $29,000 in debt. In 2009, students at the University of Minnesota owed over $25,000 in debt on average, according to the Project on Student Debt.
According to Ellison, there has been a shift in how Americans view funding for higher education. “It is clear that in the last few decades that Americans have decided a college education is more of a private venture rather than a social good,” said Ellison, Minnesota’s 5th Dist. Representative. “That’s not the way it should be going.”
Ellison said college affordability for Americans is one of the critical issues of our time. He said a college education is essential for individuals, especially those of low economic standing to ascend to the middle class.