WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, visited Bowie State University last week to talk with BSU President Mickey L. Burnim about the growing crisis in college affordability and ways the federal government could work with higher education institutions to ease the burden for students. Senator Cardin is a cosponsor of the Bank on Students Emergency Refinancing Act (S. 2292), which would allow those who currently hold student loan debt to refinance it at the lower interest rates currently offered only to new borrowers. The General Accountability Office estimates that the federal government will make $66 billion dollars on student loans issued from 2007-2012
“We cannot afford to make higher education prohibitively expensive for most Americans if we want America to continue to be a world leader in commerce, security, or any area. There is something inherently wrong about the government making billions off of student loans when the future of our nation is at stake,” said Senator Cardin. “This legislation is a rational step towards providing a fair shot to all our students so they can see an end to the mountains of debt they are being forced to accept in exchange for a higher education. Congress saw fit to freeze the interest rates at 3.84 for recent graduates; all Americans deserve the same opportunity.”
“Providing greater access to affordable higher education is critical for the future of our state and our nation,” said Bowie State University President Burnim. “I applaud Senator Cardin and other Congressional leaders for their commitment to advancing this agenda.”
Many Americans spend years paying student loan interest rates of nearly 7 percent or higher for their undergraduate education. At the same time, others taking out new undergraduate loans pay a rate of 3.86 percent under the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act passed by Congress last summer. The Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act would allow Americans to pay back their outstanding loans at the same rates that Congress embraced just last summer as appropriate for new borrowers. The legislation is fully paid for by enacting the Buffett Rule, which would limit special tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans that allow millionaires and billionaires to pay lower effective tax rates than the middle.
The weighted average tuition for 2014-2015 at Maryland four-year public colleges is expected to be $9,082 per academic year, according to the College Savings Plans of Maryland. For two-year community colleges, the weighted average tuition is expected to be $4,197 per academic year.