Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s Student Loan Petition Tops 300,000 Signatures
After unveiling a bill last week that would lower student loan interest rates to 0.75 percent, the same rate enjoyed by big banks, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has also launched a petition on MoveOn.org in support of the legislation that has surpassed 300,000 signatures at the time of publication.
The bill, which is Warren’s first, is designed as a response to both the record-breaking student loan debt and the upcoming increase of student loan rates from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1st. If passed, student loan rates would be lowered to the same near-zero level that the Federal Reserve has maintained for big-banks.
“The biggest banks in the country – the ones that wrecked our economy and cost millions of Americans their jobs – pay next to nothing on their debt, while students pay nine times as much,” wrote Warren in the petition. “That isn’t right.”
The bill comes amid skyrocketing levels of debt currently incurred by college students and recent college graduates, which topped $1 trillion at the end of 2012. Average per student debt has also doubled over the last decade, having gone from $10,649 in 2003 to $20,326 in 2012.
As the numbers continue to climb, warnings of the potentially far-reaching and long-lasting consequences of the crisis are increasing as well, with economists from both governmental agencies and nonprofit “watchdog” organizations cautioning that if student debt is left unchecked, a domino effect could result that would drag down the entire US economy.
According to Warren, the rational for allowing banks to lend with such low-rates, namely that the low-interest is essential for stimulating the economic recovery. Warren cited the GI Bill and the National Defense Education Act as examples of how government assistance in education helped propel the US to it’s post-WWII dominance by giving Americans greater access to educational and employment opportunities without the burden of large-scale debt.
“It wasn’t just soldiers that got the education, it was the whole economy that benefited from that investment,” Warren said when the bill was unveiled. “Why not give students a break? Why not let them in on the same great deal that the big banks get?”