REDUCING INTEREST ON STUDENT LOANS

ABSTRACT: The interest rate on new federal student loans is scheduled to increase from 3.4% to 6.8% in July. Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA) has introduced legislation to give students the same interest rate that the big bank corporations get when they borrow from the Federal Reserve: 0.75%. Warren’s bill highlights the enormous advantages and preferences the federal government gives to large corporations and the contrast with what the government does (or doesn’t do) for students, their families, and 99% of taxpayers in general.

 Student debt exceeds $1 trillion and is a substantial drag on the economy. Some financial experts have warned that the student debt problem has parallels to the housing mortgage loan crisis.

You can become a citizen co-sponsor of Warren’s Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act at http://my.elizabethwarren.com/page/s/studentloans?source=20130516em.

FULL POST: The interest rate on new federal student loans is scheduled to increase from 3.4% to 6.8% in July. Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA) has introduced legislation to give students the same interest rate that the big bank corporations get when they borrow from the Federal Reserve: 0.75%.

Senator Warren’s bill in the Senate (her first) and Representative Tierney’s companion bill in the House would have the Federal Reserve make funds available to the Department of Education for student loans at this low rate for one year, to give Congress time to find a long-term solution to the student debt problem. As she writes, “If the government can float huge sums of money to large financial institutions at low interest rates to grow the economy, surely it can float the money necessary to fund our students, keep us competitive, and grow our middle class.” [1]

In addition to providing some relief to students, Warren’s bill highlights the enormous advantages and preferences the federal government gives to large corporations, in this case the large banks (who crashed our economy). It starkly draws a contrast with what the government does (or doesn’t do) for students, their families, and 99% of taxpayers in general, including homeowners who got little help while the large financial corporations involved with the housing collapse got bailed out.

At a time when the federal government can borrow money at 0.25% for 2 years, under 1% for 5 years, at 2% for 10 years, and roughly 3% for 30 years, [2] it hardly seems fair to be charging students even 3.4%, let alone 6.8%.

Student debt exceeds $1 trillion, which is more than all credit card debt. It is a substantial drag on the economy. (See post of 6/6/12 for more detail.) It depresses spending by students and their families. Because consumer spending is roughly two-thirds of our economic activity, depressed consumer spending slows our economic recovery. And if the default rate on student loans grows, which seems likely given that many students are having a very hard time finding jobs, let alone ones with good pay, the impact on our economy, government, and financial institutions could be significant. That’s why some financial experts have warned that the student debt problem has parallels to the housing mortgage loan crisis. [3]

You can become a citizen co-sponsor of Warren’s Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act at http://my.elizabethwarren.com/page/s/studentloans?source=20130516em.


[1]       Warren, E., 5/16/13, “If it’s good enough for the banks, it’s good enough for students,” Elizabeth Warren for Senate Newsletter

[2]       Bloomberg, 5/17/13, “United States Government Bonds, US Treasury yields,” retrieved from the Internet at http://www.bloomberg.com/markets/rates-bonds/government-bonds/us/

[3]       Zumbrun, J., & Torres, C., 5/7/13, “Bankers warn Fed of farm, student loan bubbles echoing subprime,” Bloomberg

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