Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43) released the following statement after House Republicans pushed a bill to increase the cost of a college education:
“The U.S. House of Representatives was divided on a bill introduced by Republicans that would increase the cost of a college education. H.R. 1911, the Smarter Solutions for Students Act, is truly mislabeled and should instead be called the Making College More Expensive Act. A total of 190 Democrats voted against H.R. 1911, while 217 Republicans voted in support of it. The interest rate on federally subsidized Stafford loans is set to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1st. Instead of taking action to prevent this increase, the Republicans voted to make the situation worse.
“Under H.R. 1911, current college freshman could see their student loan interest rates more than double the current rate by graduation in 2017. According to the Congressional Budget Office, this bill would charge millions of students and families $3.7 billion over the next decade in additional interest payments relative to current law.
“In their pursuit to obtain a higher education, our students and families deserve a deal better than this. Earlier this month, in an effort to fight back and assist students and families, I co-sponsored the Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act (H.R. 1979). This bill is the House companion to the Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act (S. 897) in the Senate, and would allow students to take advantage of the same low interest rate of 0.75 percent offered to banks through the Federal Reserve’s discount window.
“According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), total student loan debt already exceeds $1.1 trillion dollars. I have long championed the importance of developing the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators to lead our country boldly in the 21st Century. Yet, the CFPB report found that student loan debt is poising a barrier to young entrepreneurs.
“Among graduates, existing student loan obligations have delayed homeownership, put off marriage and delayed starting a family. H.R. 1911 is a bait and switch scheme that does nothing to remedy this issue. This bill only makes it more expensive to attain a higher education by forcing students and families to accept loans with skyrocketing interest rates that increase annually.
“Instead of taking this problem and making it worse, we need to freeze student loan interest rates at the current 3.4 percent rate and work together on a longer-term solution that makes college more affordable. In order for us to maintain our competitive edge as a nation, we need to support every single American who desires to pursue a higher education. Congress needs to pass meaningful legislation that actually solves this problem and not perpetuate it.”