'Congress Must Act Now in the Best Interests of Our Students and Our Economy'
WASHINGTON—Today American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten released a statement on the impending hike in student loan rates.
"Allowing student loan rates to double on July 1 is unconscionable, especially when today's graduates are being crushed under record debt, and I applaud the president for his leadership on this issue. We should be expanding opportunities for our children to afford college, not saddling them with even more debt as they begin their careers and their adult lives. Higher education cannot become a luxury for a few—it must be affordable and accessible to all.
"If Congress fails to act, 7.4 million low- and middle-income students will see their earnings dramatically reduced. It makes no sense to increase the economic pain our families are feeling during these hard economic times. This drastic rate increase will also have a lasting impact on the long-term costs of students' loans and on their future life decisions, like buying a home, owning a business or starting a family.
"For AFT members, this issue impacts our students, as well as our families and our membership. Too many of the students we teach in higher education, including our newer teaching colleagues, are entering the classroom with record debt and will incur even more for professional development. Higher education faculty and staff do not want talented students to be shut out of education because of the ballooning price tag. Congress must set aside these partisan games and act now in the best interests of our students and our economy."
Ellen Schuler Mauk, president of the AFT-affiliated Faculty Association of Suffolk Community College and an English professor, joined President Obama today at the White House to highlight the impact of this issue.
"As educators, we do everything we can to prepare our students to succeed after graduation, but it's painful to know that so many are facing this difficult job market with the additional burden of excessive student loan debt. It's even more painful to see students drop out of college because the burden is already too great. The president is right—it's time for Congress to act."