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#DontDoubleMyRate Must Get Done, Then On To #WhatsMyEducationWorth

This week the Senate took up the Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act—popularly known on social media channels as #DontDoubleMyRate—legislation aimed at curbing the Stafford loan interest rates which are set to increase from 3.4% to 6.8% this summer.  In a speech on the floor of the Senate, Senator Wyden spoke out in support of the bill saying, “The Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike [Act] is so important that it allows us to achieve two important objectives.  First, it puts us in a position to hold the line on student debt…The second part of the legislation in my view is by holding the line on debt, you increase the opportunity for young people to get more value out of their education.

Keeping college costs down through student aid is absolutely critical. Senator Harkin has provided incredible leadership in this area by ushering into law legislation that gives low and middle-income Americans the chance to afford an education and pursue the American dream. We should take pride in the great progress we have made in ensuring access to college in recent history. More than 70% of our young people now start some kind of advanced training or education within two years of receiving their high school diplomas. And it is important that we prevent financial burdens that heap further debt on students and graduates when higher education is the second largest expense most individuals will face in their lifetime.

Ensuring continued access to higher education by passing the Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act enables Congress to move on to the next critical step in higher education policy which is empowering students and families to get the maximum value out of their education dollars. This is especially important at time when unemployment is in the double digits for young people in Oregon and student debt is at an all time high. We need market solutions to bring down higher education costs and ensure value for the higher education dollar by connecting the dots between higher education, completion, and employment outcomes.  Access to higher education is critical, but too many students fall through the cracks before graduation and too many graduates are unable to secure employment. For many students, access means very little without a degree and job to show for it. But prospective students and their families often make the decision to enroll in a program with incomplete information because these accountability measures simply aren’t available. To tackle that problem, Senators Wyden and Marco Rubio (R-Florida), have co-sponsored the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act, to insert more transparency in higher education by showing how specific programs and institutions compare in regards to: cost and financial aid available, completion rates, debt, and employment and earnings outcomes. The Wyden/Rubio bill has even garnered the attention of notable education experts and media voices including Frank Bruni of the New York Times, Amy Laitinen of Education Sector, and, most recently, Mark Kantrowitz of Fastweb.com and FinAid.org and Mark Schneider of the American Institutes for Research.

Watch highlights of Senator Wyden’s speech: