By Robert Applebaum, StudentDebtCrisis.org (Contact)
To be delivered to: The United States House of Representatives, The United States Senate, and President Barack Obama Petition Statement:
With approximately 39 million Americans now drowning in more than $1.1 TRILLION of outstanding student loan debt, we, the undersigned, respectfully request that Congress immediately take up Comprehensive Student Debt Reform. Such reform must address two separate, but inextricably intertwined, issues: the existing $1.1 trillion in student debt and the skyrocketing costs of college tuition.
Comprehensive student loan reform would free up hundreds of millions of dollars currently being used to service debt, to be spent on ailing sectors of the economy, providing a real jump-start to economic growth and prosperity. Such reforms would put the American Dream back in reach for millions of Americans, unleashing a new era of entrepreneurship, investment and innovation for all. The question is not whether we can afford to make such reforms, but whether we can afford not to.
At a time when the big banks can borrow from the federal government at near-zero percent interest rates, what sense does it make to force students to borrow exorbitant sums of money at outrageously high interest rates, just to obtain an education? If we, as a society, deem it so necessary to invest in the big banks with such sweetheart deals, why do we find it so difficult to find the political will to invest in our own people?
Among the reforms that we, the undersigned, believe should be implemented include, but are not limited to:
* Restoration of basic consumer protections, such as bankruptcy rights and statutes of limitations on the collections of student loan debt; * The right to refinance student loans so as to allow borrowers to take advantage of historically low interest rates; * Elimination of the $2,500 cap on the deductibility of student loan interest paid; * Elimination of the practice of interest capitalization on student loan debt; * The ability to consolidate private student loans with federal loans; and * Making all federal and private student loans eligible for income-driven repayment programs, such as Pay As You Earn, that limits payments to ten percent of income and provides forgiveness after 20 years;
There is no shortage of good ideas, but a serious shortage of political will to address this ever-growing crisis. Along with any additional legislation that may be required, we, the undersigned, demand hearings and action on the following pending bills:
* The Student Loan Fairness Act (H.R. 1330) – Rep. Bass * The Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Fairness Act (H.R. 532) – Rep. Cohen * The Student Loan Affordability Act (S. 707) – Sen. Reed * The Student Loan Default Prevention Act (H.R. 618) – Rep. Michaud * The Know Before You Owe Private Student Loan Act (S. 113) – Sen. Durbin * The Student Loan Employment Benefits Act (H.R. 395) – Rep. Israel * The Student Loan Interest Deduction Act (H.R. 1527) – Rep. Rangel * Responsible Student Loan Solutions Act (S. 909/H.R. 1946) – Sen. Reed/Rep. Tierney * The Student Loan Relief Act (S. 953) – Sen. Reed * The Federal Student Loan Refinancing Act (S. 1066) – Sen. Gillibrand * Refinancing Education Funding to Invest for the Future Act (S.1266 ) – Sen. Brown * Proprietary Institution of Higher Education Accountability Act (H.R.1928) – Rep. DeLauro * Smarter Borrowing Act (S. 546) – Sen. Harkin * Fairness for Struggling Students Act of 2013 (S. 114) – Sen. Durbin * Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act (S. 897/ H.R. 1979) – Sen. Warren/ Rep. Tierney * Students First Act of 2013 (S. 406) – Sen. Lautenberg