Congressional Republicans Obstruct Action to Make Higher Education More Affordable

Today, Congressional Republicans in the U.S. Senate obstructed action on preventing student loan interest rates from doubling for Wisconsin college students. Senate Republicans filibustered the Stop Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act, aimed at freezing the low 3.4% rate for one year. Senate Democrats offered to pay for the freeze by closing tax loopholes that allow wealthy stock holders of private companies to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

In July, student loan interest rates are set to double from 3.4% to 6.8%, and Republican obstruction threatens to increase student debt by nearly $1,000 for Wisconsin students with higher education loans. The average college debt in Wisconsin is $24,627 and 67% of students in our state carry a student loan debt.

"The voters of Wisconsin deserve to know where the Republican candidates stand on this issue. Do they stand with the Congressional Republican obstructionism and the wealthy, or do they stand with middle class Wisconsin students?" asked Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate. "All the Republican candidates talk about passing on debt to future generations, so they need let the people of Wisconsin know whose side they are on  wealthy stock holders who aren't paying their fair share or young people who being burdened with student debt."

Since 1980, tuition and fees have increased 368% at public colleges and universities, and 281% at private colleges and universities, even after accounting for inflation. Financing an education today puts an enormous strain on middle class families whose incomes aren’t able to keep pace with rapidly rising costs, and in turn, students are now taking on more and more debt to pay for college. In 2010, about two-thirds of college seniors graduated with an average of $25,000 student loan debt.