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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

College Student Relief Act of 2007

August 5, 2009
Floor Statement
Rep. Maxine Waters [D-CA]: Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman from California, Mr. Miller, for this time.

Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of the College Student Relief Act, a bill that will lower the interest rates that college students pay for subsidized loans from the current fixed rate of 6.8 percent to 3.5 percent over 5 years.

This is a fair bill that pays for itself by reducing the profit that the top lenders make from subsidizing loan debt, and it gives help to lower and middle income students who want to go to college but cannot afford it.

The Project on Student Debt states that over the past 10 years debt for graduating college seniors has increased by 108 percent. For graduates from public universities it has more than doubled, increasing by 116 percent.

This bill is needed because we want students to receive a college education without the stress of leaving with massive amounts of debt that will force them into jobs just for the sake of saving their credit. Furthermore, we do not want students to decide not to enter college because they are afraid of acquiring unmanageable debt.

According to Baum and O'Malley, in 2002, loan debt caused 14 percent to postpone marriage, 30 percent to postpone buying a car, 21 percent to wait on having children and 38 percent to wait on buying a house.

This bill chips away at the opportunity gap that keeps students of needy families and communities of color at the bottom of the ladder of success. Half of the students with Federal loans come from families with incomes between $26,000 and $68,000. The lower end of this range is close to the national poverty level for a family of four of $20,000.

Many parents who want to send their children to college have to take on large debt, rather than invest in homes or their retirement.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you for the strong position you have taken on the floor today as you have presented this bill, and I would like to ask my colleagues on the opposite side of the aisle, if they had an opportunity to reduce the interest rate on their mortgage loans by 50 percent, on their automobile also by 50 percent, or any of their other debt, would they think it was such a terrible thing, as they think about this that we are doing today?

I ask my colleagues to support this bill.

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