Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall expressed his disappointment after Republicans blocked debate on a bill to help students struggling with out-of-control college loan debt. The filibuster of the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, which Udall cosponsored, prevented the Senate from beginning consideration of a measure to allow students and graduates with existing loans to refinance at the same lower interest rates offered to new borrowers.
"This bill would help our student borrowers repay their college loans, putting money in their pockets to buy a home, start a new business or raise a family," Udall said. "At a time when we're trying to rebuild our economy, that's an investment we should all be able to agree on. So it's extremely disappointing that once again Republicans refused to allow the Senate to even begin debating common-sense legislation that would make a difference for New Mexico college graduates and our state's economy. A college degree should open a path to a brighter future — not a mountain of debt. I'm going to keep fighting to ensure that brighter future is within reach for all qualified students."
Last summer, Udall helped to lead an effort to prevent student loan rates from nearly doubling for new borrowers, keeping rates at 3.86 percent. However, the new law did not protect existing borrowers from paying high interest rates of 7 percent or more. The Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act would have made all current and existing borrowers eligible for the lower rates. The bill was paid for by limiting tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires that allow them to pay less of their income in taxes than middle class families.
In New Mexico, over 60 percent of students graduate with student loan debt averaging a total of $18,000; higher for graduate students. Of those 231,000 borrowers in New Mexico, 12.5 percent default on their student loans. This bill would have helped students manage their college debt and better enabled graduates to get ahead economically. Nationally, it would have helped about 25 million borrowers save an average of $2,000 over the life of their loans.