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Shaheen, Hassan Join Senate Democrats to Introduce Student Loan Refinancing Legislation

Student loan debt has swelled to $1.4 trillion, surpassing total amount of credit card debt

Senator Jeanne Shaheen

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined 34 of their Democratic colleagues today to reintroduce the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act. The legislation would allow those with outstanding student loan debt to refinance at the interest rates offered to new federal borrowers in the 2016-2017 school year. A previous version of the bill was voted on in the 113th Congress, and every Senate Democrat and three Senate Republicans voted to move the bill forward.

“Throughout New Hampshire, Granite Staters are struggling with the increasing costs of higher education and it’s hurting students, their families and our economy,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “Students should be able to refinance their loans just like homeowners can refinance their mortgages. This legislation will help borrowers save thousands on their loans, continuing our effort to make college more affordable and help save students from a mountain of debt.”

Senator Maggie Hassan

“One of the biggest issues I hear about from students, families, and businesses across New Hampshire is the increasing burden of student loan debt,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “This common-sense measure helps students struggling to make their loan payments by allowing students to refinance their loans at the current federal rate. We know that there is far more we must do to make higher education more affordable and to strengthen job training programs, and I will continue fighting to move this important legislation forward.”

Since the original bill was introduced in 2014, student loan debt has gone up more than $200 billion. In 2015, 70% of college seniors graduated with debt. And this year, more than one in four borrowers are in delinquency or in default on their student loans. One in seven borrowers defaults on federal student loans within three years of beginning repayment, and according to a recent analysis, a quarter of borrowers default over the life of their loans.

In addition to Shaheen and Hassan, original sponsors of the legislation in the Senate include Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Yesterday, Congresswoman Annie Kuster announced her support for this legislation in the House.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter previously her support for this legislation.

Kuster Helps Introduce Legislation to Assist Student Dealing with Loan Debt

(Washington, DC) – Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) helped introduce legislation to assist students in New Hampshire and across the country refinance their loans at lower rates. Kuster is an original co-sponsor of the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, led by Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-2) and United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Last year, a report found that New Hampshire had the highest student loan debt in the country on average, at $36,101.

“Student loan debt is a huge burden that not only makes life difficult for young borrowers but hurts our economy,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “Our students in New Hampshire are facing the highest average debt load in the country and we need to provide relief. The money our young people are spending paying off student loan debt could be going toward starting a new business or buying a home. It’s common sense that students should be able to refinance their student loans at lower rates currently offered to new borrowers. I’ll continue to work with my colleagues to lower the costs of higher education and create opportunities for young people to get the education or training they need without being saddled with large sums of debt.”

Congresswoman Kuster has been a strong advocate in promoting college affordability during her time in Congress.  She has supported the Perkins Loan Program and funding for Pell Grants through her role as a member of the Higher Education Caucus.  During the 114th Congress she cosponsored the Student Loan Repayment Assistance Act to incentivize employer development of student loan repayment assistance plans. Kuster has also worked to expand access to community college and job training programs for Granite Staters.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter previously her support for this legislation.

Hillary Clinton Unveils Further Measures To Make Debt-Free College Available to All

As President, Clinton Would Take Executive Action to Offer Three-Month Loan Payment Moratorium, Eliminate College Tuition for Working Families

Today, Hillary for America is announcing additional measures to her New College Compact to make debt-free college available to all American families. In addition to existing provisions such as allowing students to refinance their loans and enroll in income-based repayment plans, defending Pell Grants to let them

cover some costs for living expenses and three-year student loan payment deferral for aspiring entrepreneurs, Clinton’s proposal will include a three-month moratorium for federal student loan payments, as well as a new measure to eliminate college tuition for working families.

“American families are drowning in debt caused by ever-rising college costs,” Hillary Clinton said, “and it is imperative that the next president put forward a bold plan to make debt-free college available to all. My New College Compact will do just that — by making sure that working families can send a child or loved one to college tuition-free and by giving student debt-holders immediate relief. While Donald Trump offers little more than broken promises to get rich quick, I remain committed to ensuring that a college degree is attainable for anyone in this country with the desire and determination to earn one.”

As president, Clinton would take executive action to offer a three-month moratorium on student loan payments to all federal loan borrowers. During this period, the Department of Education would provide dedicated assistance to every borrower so they would be able to consolidate their loans, enroll in income-based repayment plans and take direct advantage of opportunities to reduce monthly interest payments and fees. Borrowers who are delinquent or in default will receive additional rehabilitation options to help them get back on their feet.

Additionally, Clinton’s plan would eliminate college tuition for working families by saying that families with income up to $125,000 will pay no tuition at in-state public colleges and universities – which would cover more than 80 percent of all families. The plan will phase in, with families earning $85,000 a year or less immediately able to attend a four-year public college or university tuition-free upon enactment. The income threshold will increase by $10,000 a year each year over four years so that, by 2021, all students with a family income of $125,000 or less will have the opportunity to receive a college education tuition-free.

Clinton’s New College Compact is centered on two promises to American families: that costs won’t be a barrier to attending college, and that debt will not hold individuals back from achieving their goals upon completing their eduction. In addition to the proposals outlined above, it includes specific provisions to benefit Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions and other minority-serving institutions, and to support parents who are balancing earning a degree with raising a child.

Read more about Clinton’s proposals to make higher education more affordable and accessible on her website here.

PCCC, Demos Applaud Hillary Clinton’s New College Compact

 (image Keith Kissel FLIKR)

(image Keith Kissel FLIKR)

“Hillary Clinton’s plan is very big and ambitious — leading to debt-free college and increased economic opportunity for millions of Americans. The center of gravity on higher education has shifted from tinkering with interest rates to making college debt free — and Clinton’s bold proposal is emblematic of the rising economic populist tide in American politics.”

— Adam Green, co-founder, Progressive Change Campaign Committee

“With the plan, millions of America’s working families will have access to debt-free public college at both two- and four-year institutions.”

— Tamara Draut, Senior Vice President of Policy and Research, Demos

MSNBC: Clinton’s sweeping new debt-free college plan

by Alexander Seitz-Wald

It’s one of the issues Clinton hears about most on the campaign trail. And at a campaign event in New Hampshire Monday, the former secretary of state will unveil sweeping proposed reforms.

Clinton’s so-called “New College Compact,” detailed in three fact sheets shared with reporters, is the most detailed and expensive plan she has unveiled so far on her 2016 presidential campaign. “Students will be able to attend an in-state public university to get a 4-year degree without ever having to take out a loan for tuition,” one fact sheet claims.

While the tax hike and other issues would likely run into opposition in Congress, Clinton’s campaign wants to cast a marker with the plan. Politically, the effort could energize young voters, who were critical to President Obama’s victory over Clinton in the 2008 primary and then to both his general election wins.

Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which has been one of the groups leading the effort for debt-free college, praised the plan. “Hillary Clinton’s plan is very big and ambitious – leading to debt-free college and increased economic opportunity for millions of Americans,” said Green, who has sometimes been critical of Clinton in the past.”

“The center of gravity on higher education has shifted from tinkering with interest rates to making college debt free – and Clinton’s bold proposal is emblematic of the rising economic populist tide in American politics,” he added. …

Politicians have to deal with the issue, said Mark Huelsman, a senior policy fellow at Demos, the New York-based liberal think tank that has been the intellectual driving force behind the idea of debt-free college.

“The benchmark for us has always been that any plan provides a pathway to debt free college or a pathway for a majority of students to graduate without taking on debt. That’s been a galvanizing issue for progressives,” he said. “Unfortunately, voters are responding to their pocketbooks. We like to point out that student debt was not the norm for most students until the 1990s, really. If you wanted a bachelor’s degree for most of our history, you didn’t have to take on debt to do so. Now it’s basically a requirement. And with college becoming more important in the labor market, not less, there’s a lot of anxiety about it.”

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Hillary Clinton Proposes Debt-Free Tuition at Public Colleges

by Laura Meckler and Josh Mitchell

Hillary Clinton is proposing an expansive program aimed at enabling students to attend public colleges and universities without taking on loans for tuition, her attempt to address a source of anxiety for American families while advancing one of the left’s most sweeping new ideas.

The plan—dubbed the “New College Compact” and estimated to cost $350 billion over 10 years—would fundamentally reshape the federal government’s role in higher education by offering new federal money, but with strings attached. …

The Clinton campaign views this proposal as a centerpiece of its domestic agenda, akin in importance to health care in 2008, and it is her most expensive proposal so far. The campaign said it would pay for it by limiting deductions for upper-income tax filers, which President Barack Obama has repeatedly proposed without success. …

Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which has worked to make college affordability a top issue, said he was excited by the plan and sees it as helping to shift the debate over higher education from adjusting interest rates to trying to make college debt free. “Hillary Clinton’s plan is very big and ambitious, leading to debt-free college and increased economic opportunity for millions of Americans,” he said.

Kelly Ayotte Votes Against New Hampshire’s Best Interests In Budget

Senator Kelly Ayotte 2 (Gage Skidmore)

Senator Kelly Ayotte at CPAC in 2013 (Image by Gage Skidmore FLIKR)

As the Senate wrapped up a slew of budget amendment votes Kelly Ayotte’s priorities were on full display, and now she has to begin the difficult work of trying to explain her indefensible votes to her constituents back home.

Below is just a sampling of where Kelly Ayotte voted against New Hampshire’s best interests:

  • Voted against an amendment to prevent companies from getting tax benefits for shipping jobs overseas. Over 106,000 jobs in New Hampshire are at risk of being outsourced
  • Opposed an amendment to adopt the Paycheck Fairness Act to give women more tools to fight pay discrimination.
  • Voted against measures to protect Social Security against privatization and benefit cuts and prevent Medicare from being turned into a voucher program
  • Voted against an amendment that would let young people refinance their student loans, which would help 129,000 borrowers in New Hampshire, and against restoring cuts to the Pell Grant program
  • Opposed a measure to provide two free years of community college by raising revenue through requiring millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share of taxes

Kelly Ayotte’s priorities are clear, and New Hampshire students, seniors families and workers don’t make the list.

“If anyone wasn’t clear about how extreme Kelly Ayotte truly is, they don’t need to look any further than her votes on this budget against New Hampshire students, seniors, families and workers,” said Sadie Weiner, DSCC National Press Secretary. “New Hampshire voters deserve better than Kelly Ayotte’s refusal to stand up for their best interests and they’ll hold her accountable in 2016.”

These are not the priorities of New Hampshire working families.  These are the priorities of the rich, elite 1% who want to take more from the hard working middle class and refuse to pay their fair share.

“From voting to protect tax benefits for companies that outsource jobs to opposing a measure that would let young people refinance their student loans, Kelly Ayotte proved once again that her focus in Washington is looking out for her special interest allies and not the best interests of New Hampshire,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley.

This budget will not help Granite State families, it will only hurt them.  Slashing social programs that low income families rely on, reducing benefits to seniors who are already struggling to pay their bills on a fixed income, and gives more tax breaks to wealthy corporations who skirt paying their fair share in taxes.

It is obvious that Senator Ayotte is more interested in following her out of touch party leadership than doing what is right for New Hampshire families.  She is also setting herself up nicely for a potential GOP Vice President nomination, building a hefty war chest and voting right down party lines.

NH Needs Two Senators Who Are Willing To Stand Up For Recent College Grads

Who Supports College Grads 2One New Hampshire Senator is standing up for students…

….while the other Senator is “not voting.”

“Across the country people are struggling with the increasing costs of higher education and that’s hurting our students and our economy,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has said. “This is especially true in New Hampshire, where an estimated 74 percent of students graduate with debt averaging nearly $33,000. Our plan represents an important step toward addressing the student loan crisis by helping borrowers refinance their student loans and pay down their debts.”

Where’s New Hampshire’s other Senator, on this issue? Can’t really tell; there seems to be some kind of a “Where’s Waldo?” thing going on.

When Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren filed her “Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act” – which would drastically reduce the burden of debt for college grads – New Hampshire’s Sen. Shaheen was quick to co-sponsor the bill.

Sen. Warren was outraged that the federal government collects over “$66 billion in profits from student loans originated between 2007 and 2012.” “The government should not be making profits off the backs of our students,” she told the Huffington Post. “Period.”

“That is wrong. It is morally wrong. That is obscene,” Warren stated. “Let’s give [students] the same great deal that the banks get,”

But the Senate can’t act on the bill because of a filibuster.

Last week’s vote to end the filibuster came up four votes short. Sen. Shaheen voted to allow the Senate to consider the bill. But where was New Hampshire’s other Senator? While she could have been helping “get government off the backs” of debt-burdened students?

Here’s Sen. Shaheen’s statement, after the “Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act” failed to overcome the GOP filibuster.

“I am disappointed that the Republican leadership in the Senate blocked a plan to help young people and families in New Hampshire and around the country see some relief from overwhelming student debt. Allowing eligible borrowers to refinance their student loans is the right thing to do for them and for our economy, and I will continue to fight for ways to make college more affordable and to help students get out of debt.”

Here’s what the Concord Monitor had to say: “Sen. Kelly Ayotte did not vote.”

And the Boston Globe: “Ayotte was in New Hampshire for a family event, her office says.”

And this is where it gets confusing.

According to her Facebook Page and her press releases, Sen. Ayotte was meeting with “David Lahme, President of TradePort USA, to discuss her ongoing efforts to protect businesses in New Hampshire.”

But then there are the roll calls. According to the US Senate,

Yet during that very same day, she was reportedly in New Hampshire for a “family event” and met with David Lahme at her office in Washington, D.C.

Got a really good travel agent? Racking up frequent flyer miles? Teleportation? In two places at once?

Or is it possible that just maybe Sen. Ayotte was purposely avoiding this vote?

Does Sen. Ayotte care at all about college students in New Hampshire, which ranks second highest in student loan debt?

I can’t help but wonder why Sen. Ayotte – who up until recently had one of the best voting records in the country – has missed seven votes within the last three months. That’s as many votes as she she had missed – total – in the three years between taking office and April 2014.

Senator Ayotte is not up for reelection until 2016. But between now and then, people should remember which Senators sided with millionaires over students, and which Senators were willing to let the federal government “pocket an additional $185 billion in profits on new student loans made over the next 10 years.”

Last week, one New Hampshire Senator stood up for students – and against using them as a source of federal revenue.

But where, exactly, was our other Senator?

Senator Shaheen Welcomes Action On Student Loan Debt

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) welcomed news today that will help address the student debt crisis that is hurting the economy and family budgets across the country. This afternoon it was announced that the President will take many steps through Executive Order to ease the impact of student loan debt on borrowers, including a provision championed by Shaheen in her Simplifying Access to Student Loan Information Act that would encourage innovative methods of outreach and communication with borrowers to help them better identify solutions to pay off their student loan debt. The announcement comes days after Shaheen wrote to the President calling for administrative action on the growing student loans crisis.

“We have to make college more affordable but also help students better manage their debt after they graduate,” Shaheen said. “Excessive student loan debt is a significant drag on the economy, keeping many young people from buying a home or even providing for their families. Today’s news is a welcome first step but the fact is we have to do more, including passing our plan to let students refinance their loans.”

Student loan debt has hit New Hampshire particularly hard with 74 percent of graduates leaving school with an average balance of nearly $33,000 and nationally, student loan debt tops $1 trillion according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act would allow those with outstanding student loan debt to refinance at lower interest rates currently offered to new borrowers. The legislation was introduced last month with Shaheen’s support as a co-sponsor and a modified version of the bill is scheduled for floor action in the Senate later this week.

Is Student Loan Debt Hurting Your American Dream?

Many young workers throughout New Hampshire are starting their working lives behind the eight ball.  They are saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt.  This makes it harder for them to get ahead in life.  To afford good housing, and spend their extra money in our economy.

Below is a message from Granite State Progress who are looking for people to talk people about their student loan debt.  Please read Caitlin’s story and see if it sounds familiar.  If so, please take their anonymous survey.

NHLN Editor

#       #       #      #

My name is Caitlin Rollo and I owe more than $60,000 in student loan debt.

How did I get here? It’s not that I attended lavish universities, nor is it because I live outside my means. Rather, I attended the University of New Hampshire in the pursuit of fulfilling my family’s dreams that I have better opportunities in life than they had. As a first-generation college graduate, I’m proud of working my way through school and achieving something no other person in my family has ever obtained – both a four-year college degree and an advanced college degree.

But after years of hard work, I am now faced with the sobering reality that when my one-year old daughter embarks on her pursuit of higher education – I will still be paying off my own student loan debt.


Does this experience sound a little too familiar to you?

Student loan debt is an epidemic in this country that is stealing the American Dream from middle class families – and just yesterday, Congress let student loan interest rates double.

Instead of creating new businesses, spending money in the community, buying automobiles and purchasing homes, graduates are struggling to repay student loans that drag out for decades after college. Granite State Progress wants to find out what student loan debt means in New Hampshire and how we can address it – but we need your experience and help.

Would you be willing to take our anonymous and confidential survey regarding student loans — whether you had one or not? The five-minute electronic survey focuses on student loans, income, and automobile and homeownership.

We want to assure you: this survey is anonymous and the data will be collected and analyzed by an independent research company as part of a larger project the ProgressNow network is doing around student loan debt. No personal data is requested such as name, birthdate or address. Your computer’s IP address will not be collected by completing the survey, and you will be asked simple questions regarding home ownership and other purchasing power.

Help address the student loan debt crisis: click now take our confidential survey — whatever your student loan situation is or was, or if you did not have one — we need as many responses as possible.  Thank you for your help.
In progress,

Caitlin and the entire Granite State Progress team

PS: Again, here is the link to our student loan survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SLD13P

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