WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Mazie K. Hirono today voted to keep federal student loan interest rates low after they doubled due to congressional inaction on July 1. The Keep Student Loans Affordable Act, which failed to break a filibuster by Senate Republicans, would have restored lower rates for a year without adding to the deficit by closing tax loopholes. The Republican alternative proposal would saddle borrowers with more debt by permanently tying loans to market hikes.
“Last week, more than 17,000 student loan borrowers in Hawaii saw their interest rates double. If Congress doesn’t act to restore the low rates, these borrowers will pay nearly $1,000 more on their loans this coming school year, a significant burden that will hurt students and the economy. The bill I supported today would have restored low interest rates immediately for one year.
“College costs and student debt have gone up, way up, and there’s a lot Congress should be doing to help students access and complete college. Instead of only looking at student loans, right before a deadline, we should take the time to develop a bipartisan, long-term update to the entire Higher Education Act. I voted for today’s one-year extension of current rates to allow time for Congress to do just that. Although I’m disappointed this bill was filibustered, I will keep fighting for proposals to help Hawaii students.”
More than 17,000 student loan borrowers in Hawaii currently use federally subsidized Stafford loans. On June 6, Senate Republicans filibustered the Student Loan Affordability Act, a two-year extension of current rates. In June, 2013, student senators at the University of Hawaii at Manoa passed an emergency resolution urging Congress to prevent these interest rates from doubling July 1.