SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine., Sept. 3 -- The office of Sen. Angus S. King Jr., I-Maine, issued the following news release:
With thousands of students across the country heading to college this week, and with an unprecedented number of them borrowing student loans to finance their education, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today convened a roundtable discussion at Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) in South Portland to discuss the challenges of college affordability. During the discussion, Senator King also announced that he plans to introduce legislation later this month with Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) that would dramatically simplify student loan repayment options and provide better information to borrowers about the tools available to them to ease repayment challenges. The bill will mirror a discussion draft released by the two senators earlier this year.
"The rising cost of education is a huge issue facing the country. The amount of student loan debt is now in the trillions, and the problem is that it creates a situation where students start their career carrying a tremendous weight on their back," Senator King said. "And in turn that stifles their ability to take a job they might really want because, instead, they have to take a job that allows them to pay their loans.
"We need to continue to talk about this issue and ask why the cost of education has increased faster than any other costs in our society, including healthcare. We also need to find ways to remove red tape and make the larger system more user-friendly to students," he continued. "That's why this month I will introduce legislation to simplify federal student loan repayment options. A simpler system will help students better and more easily understand what their options are so that they can make a choice that is in their best financial interest."
The discussion, which included students and faculty from SMCC, ranged from challenges that Maine students face in financing a college education and ways to improve the delivery of financial aid to ideas for raising college matriculation rates and easing the transition from high school to college to the workforce.
Additionally, Senator King's announcement that he intends to formally introduce legislation to reform the student loan repayment options offered by the federal government comes as graduates today face a complicated maze of repayment programs that often leave them confused about which programs best fits their needs. Through years of ad hoc changes and expansions little has been done to ensure students and taxpayers are well served. The legislation to be proposed by Senators King and Burr will address those issues by consolidating many of the benefits of current repayment programs into a single, simplified income-based repayment option.
More specifically, the bipartisan plan proposes to make loan repayment more affordable for the middle class by eliminating duplicative repayment options, streamlining eligibility terms, and ensuring that borrowers will never direct more than 15 percent of their discretionary income to their loan payments. The proposal also ends the disproportionate federal subsidization of loan payments for high income borrowers and sets parameters for the amount of debt that can be forgiven over certain periods of time.
These are commonsense changes supported by broad groups of stakeholders - including President Obama - who want to see these programs become sustainable and user-friendly. To read more about it, click HERE.http://www.burr.senate.gov/public/_files/King-BurrDiscussionDraftOnePager.pdf
Last summer, Senator King played a central role in organizing a bipartisan group of his colleagues to negotiate and draft the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act, legislation that overwhelming passed by the Senate and House, and once signed by the President, successfully prevented student loan interest rates from doubling. The Congressional Budget Office determined that the law saved students over $8 billion during the 2013-2014 Academic Year and is projected to save taxpayers $715 million over the next ten years.
According to the Project on Student Debt, Maine students face the 7th highest average debt burden in the country - with the average student borrowing over $29,000 to finance their education.http://www.king.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/According%20to%20the%20Project%20on%20Student%20Debt,%20Maine%20students%20face%20the%207th%20highest%20average%20debt%20burden%20in%20the%20country%20%E2%80%93%20with%20the%20average%20student%20borrowing%20over%20$29,000%20to%20finance%20their%20education.
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