With many college grads entering their student loan repayments this month, one important number will affect how much they’ll pay over the lifetime of their loans: their student loan interest rate. President Obama and Congress spent a significant amount of time and energy this summer debating this issue in particular, one that impacts millions of college students and graduates. Congress ended up voting to keep federal student loan interest rates under 4 percent, but many representatives were critical of the short-sightedness of this plan to effectively reverse the student loan crisis. While the relief of a lower interest rate was certainly welcomed by students and graduates alike, it did little to provide a comprehensive solution to those graduates already in tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a long-time consumer rights advocate and a supporter of significant student loan reform, believes that more can be done to help relieve struggling borrowers. In the Keep Student Loans Affordable Act of 2013, Senator Elizabeth Warren and other congressmen and women proposed a three-prong solution to the student debt crisis that involved expanded consumer rights and less profits for the federal government. Despite the fact that the act did not pass this summer, the Senator and other members of congress continue to push for federal reform beyond lower interest rates on federal student loans.
Here is the three-step approach presented by Senator and other proponents of the act:
- Allow students to refinance at a lower rate. Many homeowners are choosing to refinance their mortgages at lower interest rates, and Senator Warren argues that students should be allowed to do the same and take advantage of today’s historically low interest rates.
- Eliminate government profits. Some argue that the profits the government makes off of student loans can be used to pay down the national debt. The Senator, however, believes that it is “obscene” that the government profits off of student loan borrowers and that it is morally wrong to saddle consumers with the federal government’s debt burden.
- Restore consumer protections like bankruptcy relief. One of the major criticisms the Senator has of student loans is that borrowers are unable to discharge this type of debt in bankruptcy. The ability to declare bankruptcy and erase this debt would come as a welcome relief to many college graduates struggle to survive with the burden of thousands of dollars in student loans.