News Column

Pocan Calls for House Action on College Affordability

June 9, 2014



WASHINGTON, June 9 -- Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis. (2nd CD), issued the following news release:

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02), a member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, today issued the following statement on President Obama's call for the Senate to pass legislation that would allow Americans to refinance their outstanding student loans at lower interest rates currently available to new borrowers.

"While there are many steps that must be taken to address college affordability, I am proud that Senate Democrats are taking up Senator Elizabeth Warren's student loan refinancing legislation and taking action to address a problem affecting many within Wisconsin's2nd Congressional District and across the country.

"Unfortunately, the House of Representatives still is failing to act on any critical legislation to help ease the burden of student debt facing an estimated 25 million Americans.

"With only 28 days until the House of Representatives is expected to adjourn for August recess, I call on Speaker Boehner and the House Republican Leadership to act on student loan refinancing proposals, expand rights for student borrowers and other legislation aimed at ensuring college remains accessible and affordable. We cannot ignore the millions of college graduates who are buried under crushing levels of student debt."

BACKGROUND

Congressman Pocan represents the 2nd Congressional District of Wisconsin which includes the state's largest university - the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a member of the Education and Workforce Committee, Congressman Pocan has been especially focused on college affordability issues affecting working class families. Congressman Pocan has worked very closely on student loan refinancing policies.

This Congress, Congressman Pocan introduced H.R. 3047 and H.R. 4622 that would allow borrowers to refinance their loans whenever lower rates become available. He is also an original cosponsor of the Bank on Students Emergency Refinancing Act which was introduced in the House by Representatives Tierney and Miller and in the Senate by Elizabeth Warren. This legislation further underscores the importance of allowing borrowers to refinance their loans by including refinancing options for both public and private loans.

According to original research by One Wisconsin Institute, the student loan debt crisis has been shown to be a huge drag not just on borrowers' household budgets, but the entire state economy, reducing new car purchasing by over $200 million annually and leaving middle class households with student loan debt more likely to rent than own a home.

In Wisconsin, the average student graduates from college owing $22,460 in student loans. Nearly 800,000 individuals in Wisconsin currently have outstanding student loans. By allowing the average borrower to refinance their loans at 4%, they would be saving $8,483 over the 20 year life of the loan.

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