The following article originally appeared in the Raleigh News & Observer. Click here to read the entire piece.
Rep. Price calls for student loan rate extension at NCSU
RALEIGH - Rep. David Price visited N.C. State University Monday to advocate for a proposal that would prevent an impending increase of the interest rate on federally-subsidized student loans.
Price, seeking reelection to Congress from North Carolina's Fourth District, told a dozen or so students and a crowd of reporters at the Wolf Plaza that his colleagues should act before a July 1 deadline passes and the interest rate on Stafford Loans propels from the current 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.
He said the increase, which would only apply to new loans, would affect some 160,000 students in North Carolina and 7.9 million nationwide. That could translate to upwards of an extra $1,000 per year for students relying heavily on subsidized loans. Price blasted Congressional Republicans for inaction and Mitt Romney for not pressing his colleagues to extend the current rates.
Romney has said he supports the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans. "This is real money," Price said. "It could be put to a lot better uses: buying textbooks, investing in a start-up, starting an IRA, especially in this economy."
The full text of Rep. Price's remarks is below:
Good morning! Thanks for joining us here in Raleigh on the campus of one of our state’s finest public universities.
It has been a busy week for North Carolina students and their families. Last week, the North Carolina General Assembly approved a budget that continued a pattern of severe cuts to education, undermining years of progress toward making our state’s schools among the best in the country … but we’re not here to talk about that today.
On Saturday, the federal Pell Grant program, which has helped tens of millions of students afford a college education in North Carolina and around the country, bringing the American dream closer within reach, turned 40 years old … but we’re not here to talk about that either.
We’re here to talk about the fact that if Congress does not act this week, the interest rate on federal Stafford loans will double for more than 160,000 North Carolinians, and more than 7.9 million students nationwide.
What does this mean for these students? At a time when Americans owe more on their student loans than on their credit cards, it means an additional $1,000 every year, on average, in interest costs – about $127 million per year in total for North Carolina students.
This is real money that could be put to better use doing any number of things – buying textbooks, investing in a start-up, starting an IRA – especially in this economy.
I don’t need to tell you this – these students and parents know better than anybody what’s at stake here.
But I do know a thing or two about the importance of an affordable education. I grew up in a small town just across the border in Tennessee and came to North Carolina to attend junior college, and then was fortunate enough to attend UNC on a generous scholarship. As a professor at Duke, I saw countless bright and talented young people come through my classroom who simply would not have been there were it not for federal financial assistance.
These experiences left a profound impact on me, and one of my early legislative accomplishments was authoring the legislation that allows students to deduct their student loan interest from their taxes.
Maintaining access to an affordable education doesn’t just improve the lives of individual students – it’s the foundation of our economic competitiveness as a nation.
Nobody needs to tell us that here in North Carolina. When businesses over the years have decided they wanted to be a part of the Research Triangle story, they have been attracted by world-class universities like this one. When a business chooses to locate here today, it doesn’t come for the cheap labor. It comes for the smart labor, the educated workforce.
President Obama understands this. He has been fighting to make education affordable since the day he took office, working with Congress to double funding for Pell Grants, ease repayment of student loans, and triple the largest college tax credit.
Now, he has a simple message for Republicans in Congress, one that Democrats across the country will be echoing throughout the week: Don’t double my rate.
It’s as simple as that: Don’t double my rate. Democrats in Congress have a plan that would keep student loan rates low without adding to the deficit, but Republicans are insisting we have to pay for it by cutting cancer screenings and other preventive health measures. That’s a false and cynical choice if I’ve ever seen one.
Mitt Romney claims that he supports these low rates, but with the clock ticking, he is nowhere to be seen. Instead, he tells college students to just “shop around” for a cheaper tuition. That’s not the type of leadership we need and expect in a president.
So I’ll say it one more time: Don’t double my rate.