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Shocking numbers

by Suzanne Bonamici

Summer is here, the school year is ending, and students across Oregon are graduating from high school. Congratulations to the Class of 2014! As a parent, I understand the excitement that comes when children move into the next stage of life. We hope that they will live up to their full potential as they leave the nest, but too many are worried about how to pay for college.

Countless high school graduates are questioning the wisdom of signing up for sizeable student loans, and worrying about the debt that will follow them into adulthood. Paying for college shouldn't deter young people from pursuing their dreams. Simply put, college needs to be more affordable.

The numbers are shocking. 40 million Americans carry a collective $1.2 trillion in student loan debt – that’s more than all consumer credit card debt combined. And it’s getting bigger. About 70 percent of today’s college students graduate with debt.

As a member of the Education Committee, I've made it a priority to decrease student loan interest rates and give young people the opportunity to live up to their potential. There are some common-sense solutions on the table right now, and one of the best ideas was proposed by Senator Elizabeth Warren. It’s simple – allow student loan borrowers to refinance at today’s historically-low interest rate of 3.86 percent. This simple step will save some borrowers hundreds of dollars every month – dollars that can be put back into the economy or invested for the future.

The Senate is expected to vote on Senator Warren’s bill soon. I’m advocating for my House colleagues to help pass a similar bill. It’s the right thing to do for the middle class, and it’s the smart thing to do for the economy.

Here’s to the Class of 2014!

Posted on June 9, 2014.