Washington, DC – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley issued the following statement after the Senate passed a deal to keep student loan rates from doubling.
“Access to affordable higher education is one the main pillars of restoring and strengthening the middle class. Anyone who is talented and hardworking, regardless of the wealth of their parents, should be able to go to college and build a better life. Indeed, because our nation made it affordable, I was the first in my working-class family to attend college.
“Unfortunately, college tuition has skyrocketed, making higher education out of reach for too many Oregon families. And, because of the dysfunction of Congress, student loan rates doubled earlier this month, compounding the problem of college affordability even further.
“Today, I voted for a student loan bill that has one positive feature. It throws a lifeline to our current students by significantly lowering interest rates from current law over the next 3-4 years. For the coming school year, the rate will drop from 6.8% under current law to about 3.9%.
“Make no mistake, however, this bill does not present an acceptable long-term policy. It charges undergraduate students two percent more than it costs the government to borrow the funds. Graduate students and parents will pay an even higher premium. This turns student loans into a money-making enterprise for the government, with estimated profits of $184 billion over the coming ten years.
“This is wrong. Students should get the best possible deal, not a surcharge that funds other parts of the government. I have fought this surcharge over the past several months, and I will continue to do so.”