SHAHEEN: CONGRESS MUST COME TOGETHER TO STOP STUDENT LOAN RATES FROM DOUBLING

New Hampshire already has the highest average student debt in the nation

May 03, 2012

(Plymouth, NH) – We need to ensure that American students can afford college and Congress must find a bipartisan solution to stop interest rates from doubling on federally subsidized student loans, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) said today at Plymouth State University.

New Hampshire already has the highest average student debt in the nation at $31,408 per student. That could increase by a combined total of $30.5 million if Congress doesn’t stop interest rates on subsidized Stafford Loans from increasing from 3.4% to 6.8% on July 1. Nationwide, 7.4 million students will face an average of $1,000 in additional debt when they graduate college. There are almost 38,000 students in New Hampshire with subsidized Stafford Loans who could be affected.

“Students at Plymouth State and across the country understand that access to a college education is crucial to their future success,” Shaheen said. “If our students are going to continue to learn the skills needed to compete in a global economy, we must keep higher education affordable. Congress should come together in a bipartisan way to stop federally subsidized student loan rates from doubling this summer.”

“Student access to low interest education loans is a critical investment in our youth and a wise one for our nation given the tremendous contributions an educated workforce makes to businesses and communities across the country," said Dick Hage, former Vice President for Student Affairs, who spoke on today’s panel.

Plymouth State students graduating in the spring of 2011 owed an average debt of $31,145.  In the fall of 2010, 48 percent of its students qualified for scholarships and grants, while 27 percent of those enrolled qualified for Federal Pell Grants for low-income students.

Shaheen has long worked to increase college affordability. She supported education reforms in 2010 that increased the maximum Pell Grant to $5,550 and made student loan debt more manageable by capping repayments at 10 percent of discretionary income. As Governor, she launched a tax-free college tuition savings plan for New Hampshire, one of the first of its kind in the nation.

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