By Robert Pittenger
We all know strong students who want to go to college, get good-paying jobs and build flourishing, independent lives for themselves and their families.
On May 23, I joined House Republicans in passing a long-term solution for the Federal Stafford Loans program, giving these great students more certainty when paying for college. We passed the bill more than five weeks early, giving Senate Democrats plenty of time to act before interest rates doubled on July 1.
The House Republican plan takes politics out of the equation, providing security to students by linking Stafford Loan interest rates to market rates, just like most other loans. Our plan protects students by setting a reasonable cap (8.5 percent) in case of a high-interest rate environment, while also protecting taxpayers by setting the student loan rate at what it costs the government to borrow the money, plus a modest markup.
Unfortunately, Senate Democrats continue to use student loans as a political football, refusing to act prior to July 1 and allowing interest rates to double. The Democrats who run Washington are standing in the way of an affordable college education, and that isn’t fair to hardworking students.
The House Republican plan was actually based on proposals by President Obama, so why isn’t he pushing Senate Democrats to take action? His failure to lead on student loans fits a pattern that is becoming too familiar, with the President also failing to lead on jobs and the economy.
My office regularly hears from constituents who have defaulted on their student loans, which can cause a lifetime of financial hardship.
If you or someone you know is in danger of defaulting, please call my offices in Charlotte (704-362-1060) or Mooresville (704-696-8188) immediately so we can connect you with programs and information that can help you avoid this financial calamity.
U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-9th District) represents the Lake Norman area in Congress. He also served three terms in the N.C. Senate.