House Democrats filed a discharge petition Thursday to move their student loan interest bill out of committee:
The discharge petition would require a straightforward, up-or-down vote the bill authored by Rep. Courtney to extend current low interest rates on subsidized Stafford student loans for two years and allow Congress time to consider long-term, comprehensive solutions, to address both rising college costs and affordability, during the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. At every corner, Republicans have blocked consideration of any bill that would provide student loan debt relief, insisting that students be taxed higher interest rates to pay down the deficit.
Interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans will rise July 1 if Congress doesn't act, doubling interest rates for many of the students most in need of affordable loans. But keeping the rates on subsidized Stafford loans is just a small step toward what students—and the American economy—need. Howard Dean lays out some of the consequences of high student debt:
The consequences of the massive amounts of debt we’re asking students to take on don’t end at dreams deferred. A recent report from the New York Federal Reserve found that people with student loan debt were less likely to be homeowners before the age of 30 and were less likely to purchase a vehicle than previous generations.

Student loan debt, which has tripled since 2004, is even deterring many of the “first global” generation from getting married and having children. Moreover, 41 percent of those struggling with student debt say that loan payments have forced them to postpone contributions to retirement accounts. Today’s student debt loads are a threat to the already precarious retirement security of Americans for decades to come.

Improving student loan interest rates would be a relatively small step toward making college affordable for working- and middle-class kids—even if the rates for all loans, not just subsidized Stafford loans, were at 3.4 percent. The fact that Republicans are standing in the way of even this small step, and Democrats aren't thinking much bigger, is yet more evidence of how badly our policy is tilted against people who can't just write a college tuition check without a second thought. A college degree is more and more necessary to getting a job that pays enough to live on, yet per-student investment in public higher education has crashed over the past generation. Rising student debt is creating a nation of indentured servants. It's time to end that, and interest rates are just the tip of the iceberg.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 09:12 AM PDT.

Also republished by Youth Kos 2.0 and Daily Kos.

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