Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013by Representative Luke Messer
Posted on 2013-07-31
MESSER. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the Smarter
Solutions for Students Act, also known as the Bipartisan Student Loan
Certainty Act. I commend Chairman Kline; our Education Subcommittee
chairwoman, Ms. Foxx; Ranking Member Miller; and others for their hard
work and diligence throughout this process of getting this bill where
it is today.
I am pleased that cooler heads have prevailed and Senate Democrats finally have agreed to the commonsense solutions proposed months ago by House Republicans and the President in his budget to stop interest rates on student loans from doubling. This is a good deal for 11 million students. The rates are better in this agreement. Students will save an estimated $1,500 in interest over the life of their college loans as a result.
Those beneficiaries include more than 200,000 students in Indiana alone, who will be taking out their student loans this year. It will help young people like John Houston, a Ball State University student and intern in my office this summer, who will be taking out student loans as he heads back to school this fall. Getting Congress out of the business of randomly setting interest rates is a good deal--both for students like John and taxpayers.
The bill will allow students to benefit from lower interest rates and prevent taxpayers from being forced to subsidize arbitrary rates set by politicians for political reasons rather than for policy purposes. Maybe most importantly, Mr. Speaker, this legislation shows that, even in a challenging partisan environment, Congress can come together and work on behalf of the American people to make their lives a little easier. I hope this agreement builds momentum for reaching bipartisan solutions to other problems that our Nation faces.
I urge my colleagues to support this measure.
Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson Lee).
(Ms. JACKSON LEE asked and was given permission to revise and extend her remarks.) Ms. JACKSON LEE. I'm just delighted to be able to say that the leadership of the Senate realized that the Republican bill would have overwhelmed our young people.
I was just talking to someone just a few minutes ago, and they were saying we need to have a commitment that every person that graduates from college has a job. We should also have a commitment that every young person that wants to go to school and get a higher education should not be burdened with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt.
For over 2 years, our good friend, Mr. Courtney from Connecticut, Democrats, the Education Committee, and Mr. Miller have been begging on behalf of the American children to not cause them to pay this enormous amount but to hold the interest rates for middle class families and working families at 3.4 percent. And we struggled. There were many discussions in the United States Senate. And the reason why they continue to struggle is because they wanted to make sure that the victory came out for those young people of working parents and middle class parents. That's why we're here today--because they held out and we held out. Now we're glad to be in a bipartisan mode. But it's important to note that this was a struggle.
If we pass this bill and get it on the President's desk, the 3.6 percent or so will be held. As we go forward over the years, we'll have a measured increase. Not a high increase to market rates or rates higher than that, but a measured increase or 3, 4, or 6 percent. And then some 5 years out, when it reaches about 7 percent, we'll have the ability as a Congress to come back and look. Because we should not burden our students to the point where they cannot get an education.
We all are created equal. Maybe education is not written in the Constitution, but certainly the opportunity for the pursuit of happiness. Therefore, the opportunity for education must be protected.
This is a crucial difference between the bipartisan Senate bill of $11,000. The current law right now is $14,000. And what the House Republican bill passed was almost $17,000.
Mr. Speaker, this is a relief. This is to be applauded. And I'm delighted that we have finally come to our senses.
Today the House of Representatives will have a second chance to get Student Loans right. This is an opportunity to relieve the fears and anxiety of families of college bound students across the nation by passing H.R. 1911--the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013. By passing this legislation the Congress can take a concrete step toward restoring the economic security, educational opportunities, and peace of mind of America's students.
The goal of our nation should be to educate our youth to reach their greatest potential in life. A good education should be accessible and affordable to all of your young people.
[[Page H5219]] For too long, millions of America's best and brightest have been waiting for Congress to find a responsible solution to rising student loan interest rates. While House Republicans have insisted on saddling students with even more debt, the bipartisan legislation we passed today seeks to ease that burden.
This bipartisan compromise offers hardworking students and families critical protections, reduces rates on all new loans this year, and saves undergraduates $1,500 on average over the life of their loans.
The plan caps market-based interest rates, ensuring students won't bear the brunt of skyrocketing rates in the future. While the House Republican bill considered earlier this year only offered uncertainty, insecurity, and more debt for our students, the Senate compromise that we are considering today will restore a sense of security for nearly 11 million Americans who are seeking a better life through higher education.
The passage of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, Congress made historic investments in student aid. The law did what Congress should always do when considering the needs of students seeking education to improve their chances of success. This bill halved interest rates on need-based federal student loans to 3.4 percent-- making these loans more affordable for low- and middle-income students. If Congress doesn't act before July, the rate will jump back up to 6.8 percent, making it much more difficult for many American students and their families to afford a college education.
I represent colleges and universities in my District who serve the higher education needs of tens of thousands of Houstonians and others who come to our city for its education opportunities.
A college education should not be only for the lucky few, but should be available to all of those with skill and determination. Given the opportunity, millions of young and older Americans would access higher education to provide their families with a more certain financial future, while also strengthening our nation's economic and national defense human capital. A college degree is also becoming essential to a growing number of jobs in the 21st century economy.
STEM Education Statistics STEM workers earn 26 percent more than non-STEM graduates.
By 2018 we will need: 710,000 Computing workers, 160,000 Engineers, 70,000 Physical Scientists, 40,000 Life Science workers, and 20,000 Mathematics workers.
STEM Computing Jobs are critical to America's future: Software engineers, Computer networking workers, Systems analysis, and Computer researcher or support workers.
College student STEM retention according to the President's report is improved when students have the proper peer and instructor support system, which is what Superintendent Dr. Soner Tarim has done at each of the area's 17 Harmony Schools.
By providing access to an affordable education we are eliminating the shortage in two ways by: (1) creating opportunities for Americans to prepare for STEM careers, and (2) by welcoming those from other countries who choose to study and remain in the United States to work.
According to the Association for Computing Machinery K-12 computer science education as a component of STEM education would help students have a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of computing, which is a critical foundational knowledge for a wide range of education needs for other STEM education programs and future jobs.
We know that fewer than 40 percent of new college students enter College intending to get a STEM related degree. This is not good enough for America--we need to do much better.
By making college more affordable and accessible we could increase the retention of the STEM degree majors from 40 percent to 50 percent, if we reach this goal the nation can meet three fourths of the 1 million STEM workers we will need.
Minority college students who major in STEM higher education make 25 percent more than minority graduates with non-STEM educations. Minority students who take STEM jobs make 50 percent more than minority non-STEM graduates.
Students and families cannot wait any longer to know how much they will owe on their student loans in the coming academic year. Making college more affordable is critical to sustaining America's economic competiveness. Business leaders know it is vital for the workforce of tomorrow to get an education beyond high school. If more of today's students cannot afford college, businesses will not have the workers with the education and training they need to keep our economy competitive and dynamic far into the future.
I urge my colleagues in joining me in support of this Student Loan legislation.
PROJECTED INTEREST RATES UNDER SENATE BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT Below are the projected interest rates under the bipartisan Senate agreement for 2013-2023: ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Undergraduate students Parent loans for Year (subsidized and Graduate students undergraduate unsubsidized students (PLUS) Stafford loans) ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2013............................................. 3.86 5.41 6.41 2014............................................. 4.62 6.17 7.17 2015............................................. 5.4 6.95 7.95 2016............................................. 6.29 7.84 8.84 2017............................................. 7 8.55 9.55 2018............................................. 7.25 8.8 9.8 2019............................................. 7.25 8.8 9.8 2020............................................. 7.25 8.8 9.8 2021............................................. 7.25 8.8 9.8 2022............................................. 7.25 8.8 9.8 2023............................................. 7.25 8.8 9.8 Caps............................................. 8.25% 9.50% 10.50% ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Note: Rates fixed through repayment once borrowed. Rates are based on CBO projections of 10-year Treasury rates.