Tom Waring, the Wire
U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-13th dist.) is cosponsoring the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act of 2015, which has been introduced by Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney of Connecticut and Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Boyle said the legislation would provide fairness and debt relief to borrowers with high interest rates on existing student loans in both the public and private markets by allowing them to refinance to lower interest rates, similar to those available to new student loan borrowers.
Under the bill, undergraduate student loan borrowers could refinance to an interest rate of 3.86 percent. Currently, some student loan borrowers are stuck with interest rates as high as 8 percent on their existing loans.
“The crushing burden of student loan debt is hurting our economy and holding back an entire generation of young Americans,” Boyle said. “I personally understand the burden of student loan debt, and I am fully committed to addressing this crisis. This bill takes an important step forward by finally providing borrowers with existing student loans the same option to refinance that millions of other borrowers already have.
“College graduates across the country are putting their dreams on hold as they struggle to pay off their student loans. Current law prevents millions of hardworking, responsible borrowers from refinancing their student loans at today’s low rates, the way that people can refinance their home and auto loans. This legislation is simply fair.”
Boyle added that Philadelphia and Montgomery County borrowers in Pennsylvania would benefit by being able to refinance their student loans at lower interest rates if Congress passes the bill, according to estimates prepared by the Department of Education in June 2014. The Department of Education estimates that, nationwide, 25 million borrowers would benefit from the bill. Under the bill, a typical participating borrower would save $2,000 over the life of his or her loan.
“I and other advocates for student loan borrowers will make this bill a top priority this year,” Boyle said. “We will work with student loan borrowers from around the country to make sure their voices are heard and that this needed bill gets enacted this year.”
Meanwhile, Boyle is not pleased with House Republicans’ latest 10-year budget plan, which includes repealing the Affordable Care Act and, in the congressman’s view, cutting billions of dollars from Medicaid and shrinking Pell Grant allowances.
“Once again, the Republicans are trotting out old ideas to do new damage to seniors, children and families,” he said. “This budget is a statement that embodies their values, which clearly puts big tax breaks for the ultrawealthy ahead of the challenges faced by hardworking American families.
“The Republican budget will make it harder to buy a home, harder to send a kid to college, and harder to enjoy a secure and dignified retirement. The American people have had enough of Republicans taking the tools of opportunity away from hardworking Americans to give bigger tax breaks to the super wealthy. It’s time for Republicans to stop stacking the deck against hardworking Americans, and join Democrats in providing better infrastructure and bigger paychecks for everyone.”
Boyle, who said he is still paying off student loan debt, said the proposed cuts to Pell Grant funding are especially troubling to him. He described the Republican budget as “Work Harder for Less.” He fears college will become less affordable.
“That is not acceptable. Instead, we need a better set of values to build a strong and prosperous future for America. House Democrats believe in a budget that invests in the hardworking Americans who are the backbone of our country. We believe in a budget that achieves bigger paychecks and better infrastructure for every American. We believe in a budget that creates good-paying jobs here in America, instead of protecting tax giveaways for corporations shipping jobs overseas. We believe in a tax code that respects the value of work.
“We believe in a budget that lifts the draconian sequester cuts that have strangled our investments to keep America №1 in the global economy and to ensure our national security, paid for by closing special-interest tax loopholes. We believe in a budget that invests in our children’s education, that fuels research and innovation, and that opens new opportunities for everybody. It is time for us to give the American people more for their hard work, not less.”