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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.

Hassan Introduces Student Loan Relief Bill For Young Entrepreneurs

Senator Hassan Introduces Bill to Provide Student Loan Debt Relief to Young Entrepreneurs Starting Innovative Small Businesses

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan today introduced the Reigniting Opportunity for Innovators (ROI) Act, which would help provide the student loan debt relief necessary for young entrepreneurs to start up and grow innovative small businesses.

“As student loan debt levels have risen, the number of young entrepreneurs has declined. To keep our economy growing, we must help relieve the student debt burden that is keeping many young entrepreneurs from launching innovative new businesses,” Senator Maggie Hassan said. “The ROI Act will take common-sense steps to decrease the burden of student loan debt and help allow the next generation of entrepreneurs to thrive, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to support entrepreneurs.” 

New businesses have historically been the top job creators in the country, but many young people are delaying starting new businesses because of their student loans. The percentage of new entrepreneurs between 20-34 years old fell to 25 percent in 2014, down from almost 35 percent in 1996 according to a  New York Times report. Additionally, Gallup found that between 2006-2015, 63 percent of college graduates left school with some amount of student loan debt and, of those, 19 percent say they have delayed starting a business due to their loan debt. 

The ROI Act will allow founders and full-time employees of small business start-ups certified by Small Business Development Centers to have their federal student loan payments and interest accrual deferred for up to three years while launching a start-up. If the start-up is located in an economically distressed area, founders and employees who make twenty-four monthly payments will also be eligible for cancellation of up to $20,000 in student loans. 

“As the CEO of an organization dedicated to helping startup businesses grow, I have seen firsthand the difficulties young entrepreneurs face when starting a new company,” said Mark Kaplan, CEO of Alpha Loft. “Young people have incredible ideas, but often their student debt prevents them from being able to put idea into action and develop a business that would drive economic growth. Senator Hassan’s ROI Act is an important step toward relieving the burden of student debt on these young people, so they can build the types of companies we know help create the economy – and the workforce – of tomorrow.”

 “Young people often struggle to start new businesses, because their student loans prevent them from securing the additional capital necessary to get a business off the ground,” said Mary Collins, Former State Director for the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center. “Senator Hassan’s Reigniting Opportunity for Innovators Act will allow young entrepreneurs to take the next step into starting a new business, and allow them the room to grow these businesses into the engines of our economy.” 

Senator Hassan has long made promoting entrepreneurship and supporting innovative businesses a top priority. During her time as Governor, she laid out and implemented her Innovate NH plan – including working to hold down the cost of higher education, increasing and making permanent the R&D tax credit, and launching the award-winning Live Free and Start initiative. As a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Senator Hassan has continued this focus on fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, supporting measures to promote women entrepreneurs, increase participation in the STEM fields, and expand access to broadband.

For more information on the ROI Act, click here.

Educators: Sen. Kelly Ayotte Is A Burden On New Hampshire Students

Ayotte BurdenNew TV ad keeps Ayotte honest about her votes to cut Pell Grants and raise student loan interest rates 

WASHINGTON—With all eyes focused on one of the most watched U.S. Senate races in the country, the NEA Advocacy Fund began running a new television ad accusing U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte of siding with special interests instead of New Hampshire’s students and families. The seven-figure television spot, “A Heavy Burden,” is scheduled to run in the Boston media market, the eighth largest media market in the country, through September 9. 

“New Hampshire students want degrees, not debt,” said NEA political director Carrie Pugh. “Yet many students are stuck due to the burden of student debt. When presented with the opportunity to provide student loan debt relief to tens of thousands of Granite State students, including thousands of aspiring educators, Senator Kelly Ayotte voted to cut federal Pell Grants and raise student loan interest rates. Instead of siding with students and families, she chose special interests looking out for their own bottom line. That’s not the New Hampshire way.” 

The national student loan debt numbers are staggering. More than 40 million Americans are burdened by student loan debt. More than 212,000 New Hampshire people are carrying student loan debt. According to a prominent student loan debt tracker website, the average 2016 student graduated owing more than $37,000 in student loans. 

Kuster Discusses Importance of Increasing College Affordability during Forum at Alvirne High School

March 7, 2016 ׀ Rep. Kuster speaking about the importance of lowering the cost of higher education during this morning’s forum.

March 7, 2016 ׀ Rep. Kuster speaking about the importance of lowering the cost of higher education during this morning’s forum.

Hudson, NH – Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) hosted a forum at Alvirne High School with students, administrators, and community members to discuss the importance of increasing college affordability. During the forum, students and parents engaged with a panel of key stakeholders, who shared initiatives aimed at increasing access and reducing the costs of postsecondary education. 

“For the Granite State to continue to succeed in the 21st century and beyond, we must ensure that our students have access to quality education and training,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “Moreover higher education must be made more affordable for middle-class families. Today was a valuable opportunity to hear directly from the students about their experiences, as well as to discuss how we can make higher education accessible through college savings programs and reasonable loan opportunities. I thank our leaders in postsecondary education and Alvirne High School students for joining today’s important conversation. Education is one of the single most critical investments we can make in our children’s lives, and I remain committed to supporting legislation and initiatives in Congress that will help put higher education within reach for every Granite State student and family.” 

At today’s forum, students spoke about their own higher education aspirations, as well as their thoughts and concerns regarding college affordability.  Kuster was joined at the forum by Alvirne High School students and administrators, Granite State College President Mark Rubinstein, representatives from Nashua Community College, Rivier University, and the New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation, among others. During the discussion, panelists discussed local initiatives to support college affordability through financial aid awareness and planning services, increased academic preparation and college readiness efforts at the secondary school level, dual admissions with the state’s public two- and four-year institutions, as well as career and technical training options. Kuster also outlined steps she is taking in Congress to help students access postsecondary degrees, including her support for the Every Student Succeeds Act, which rectifies many of the flawed provisions implemented under the No Child Left Behind Act.   

Kuster has long fought to increase the accessibility and affordability of higher education for students throughout New Hampshire. She routinely holds roundtables and forums across the state to hear directly from Granite State students about how she can best support their success in Congress, and she will continue to meet with other students at schools across the Second District.

Kelly Ayotte’s “Sweetheart Deal” For Wall Street Comes At The Expense Of NH’s College Students And Families

Conservative American Enterprise Institute Joins Growing
Chorus Criticizing Ayotte’s Giveaway to Wall Street
 

Concord – In Washington’s latest giveaway for Wall Street, Kelly Ayotte is pushing a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” student loan that would hurt New Hampshire’s college students and families. Even the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank agrees Ayotte’s bill is really just a “sweetheart deal” for Wall Street lenders.  

Unfortunately, given Ayotte’s record of repeatedly voting to cut Pell Grants, voting against a measure to prevent federal student loan rates from doubling, and opposing a separate measure to make it easier to refinance student loans, it’s hardly surprising that experts say Ayotte’s bill would benefit Wall Street lenders at the expense of students and families.

As Congressman Eric Swalwell of California wrote in an op-ed, “If Senator Ayotte and her colleagues were serious about addressing the student debt crisis, they would be protecting the interests of the 40 million individuals with student loan debt, not the banks.” 

“Maggie Hassan has been a leader in working to make college more affordable and reduce the burden of student loan debt, fighting to freeze in-state tuition at the university system for the first time in 25 years and lowering tuition at New Hampshire’s community college,” said Campaign Communications Director Aaron Jacobs. “Meanwhile, Kelly Ayotte is once again putting her corporate special interests before New Hampshire, leading the charge on Washington’s latest giveaway for Wall Street lenders at the expense of New Hampshire’s students and families.”

In an explainer on the harmful effects of Ayotte’s bill, the Center for American Progress (CAP) also notes that her bill would also undermine important consumer benefits and protections for borrowers: “As bad as the legislation would be for taxpayers and borrowers in federal direct loan programs, it also has the potential to harm borrowers who take advantage of the refinancing option. In order to take advantage of refinancing under the proposed legislation, borrowers would have to give up important benefits that are assured under the federal student loan programs.” 

CAP added, “These would undoubtedly include the ability to repay a loan through an income-contingent repayment plan, as well as the right to have any outstanding balance on a student loan cancelled after 10 years of public service with a nonprofit organization or government agency or after 20 years or 25 years generally.”

New Hampshire College Students Blast Kelly Ayotte’s Attempt to Paper Over Her Dismal Record on College Affordability

Ayotte Has Repeatedly Voted to Cut Pell Grants and Opposed Efforts to Make It Easier to Refinance Student Loans

This Week, Ayotte’s Republican Senate Majority Also Let The Federal Perkins Loan Program Expire

Concord, N.H. – As Kelly Ayotte tries to mislead voters about her record of repeatedly voting to make college more expensive for Granite State students and families, college students across New Hampshire blasted Ayotte for her transparent political ploy. 

Not only has Ayotte voted repeatedly to slash Pell Grants and opposed efforts to make it easier to refinance student loans. But just this week, Ayotte’s dysfunctional Republican Senate Majority let the Federal Perkins Loan Program expire, ending authority for approximately 1,500 colleges and universities across the country to make new low-interest loans.  

Talia Jalette, Saint Anselm College – “The only thing worse than Kelly Ayotte’s record of opposing efforts to refinance loans and slashing Pell Grants is that she won’t even be honest with us about what she’s doing. Not only has she fought against efforts to lower student loan debt, but now she’s trying the sleazy Washington tricks of spinning and misleading voters about record.” 

Travis Bennett, Plymouth State University – “If Kelly Ayotte took a walk around any college campus she would quickly realize how deeply unpopular her positions on making college more expensive are with students in New Hampshire. New Hampshire needs a Senator who will fight to reduce the burden of student loan debt and make it easier on us as we start our careers, not someone like Ayotte who will just pretend to care about our situation when it’s time for an election. College students know how to spot a phony, and that’s what we see in Kelly Ayotte.” 

Andrew Weckstein, Dartmouth College – “The issue of college debt has become a very big deal for students and families, and on this critical issue, Kelly Ayotte has been a complete fraud. In Washington, Ayotte has repeatedly voted to slash funding for Pell Grants, and has attempted to make it more difficult for students to refinance student loans. Senator Ayotte has shown that she is not committed to serving the college students of New Hampshire. As tuition and student debt rises even higher, my message to Ayotte is this: College students won’t forget your votes to make college more expensive. “

Earlier this year, Ayotte voted for the Senate Republican budget that cuts Pell grants by nearly $90 billion (affecting roughly 23,000 New Hampshire students) and ends an expansion of the “Pay As You Earn Program,” which could double the cost of student loan payments for those who had enrolled in the program. Ayotte also voted this year against an amendment that would allow young people to refinance their student loans, which would help 129,000 Granite Staters.

Not to mention that Ayotte also voted to cut Pell Grants for thousands of New Hampshire students in 2011, 2012, and 2013.

On College Affordability, Senator Ayotte’s Record Fails

By New Hampshire Young Democrats Board

One of the most pressing issues for young people in New Hampshire and across the country continues to be the growing burden of student loan debt. It’s painfully clear that the cost of getting a college education is too high. For many, that cost can be prohibitive, barring would-be students looking to build a brighter future for themselves from ever setting foot on a campus. For many others, the only way to attend college is by taking out massive loans and incurring a debt that they will work to pay off for years to come.

The issue of college affordability and student loan debt is something that we hope will play a critical role in the 2016 elections. But, unfortunately, not every politician is serious about tackling this critical challenge for students and their families.

Senator Kelly Ayotte is one of those politicians. We’re confident that, as her re-election nears, Senator Ayotte is going to be paying a lot of lip service to the students and young people of New Hampshire. Given that, we want our fellow young Granite Staters to know the truth about the Senator’s record.

That truth is this: Senator Ayotte has voted, with excruciating regularity, to make college more expensive for New Hampshire students and families. And now, she is trying to use Washington tricks to deceive the voters of New Hampshire about her true record. But her deception won’t work.

Earlier this year, Senator Ayotte voted to cut the Pell Grant program, which gives qualifying low income students financial aid to help them pay for college, by a devastating $90 billion over the next decade.

And Senator Ayotte has voted to cut Pell Grants before – many times. In 2011 she voted for a Republican spending proposal that would have cut $12 million in the Pell Grants program for just New Hampshire, which would have impacted 21,000 Granite State students. Senator Ayotte also voted three separate times for the Ryan Budgets (in 2011, 2012, and 2013) that would all have cut Pell Grants. Each of those votes taken by Senator Ayotte was a vote to make it harder to afford a college education.

Senator Ayotte has also voted to end an expansion of the “Pay As You Earn Program,” an income-driven plan designed to help borrowers avoid defaulting on their loans by capping their monthly loan payments at ten percent of their income. Because of that vote, student loan payments by those in the program stand to double.

If our leaders want a strong, skilled workforce for the 21st century, they should be making college more affordable and accessible. If they want young people to invest in the economy and have the same economic opportunities that their parents did, they should be making it easier for college graduates to pay off their student loan debts. Senator Ayotte has consistently done just the opposite since going to the Senate.

We expect that Senator Ayotte is going to be talking a lot about college affordability in the upcoming election because she will be opportunistically courting young NH voters while trying to distance herself from her voting record. So, we want Granite Staters to know the truth. Despite Senator Ayotte’s best efforts, it won’t take a college math class to see that her record is one of repeatedly voting to make college more expensive for New Hampshire students.

Fiorina Talks To SNHU Graduates, But Her Party Stands In The Way Of Their Success

Carly Fiorina (Image Gage Skidmore)

Carly Fiorina (Image Gage Skidmore)

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Today, Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina is speaking at the commencement of Southern New Hampshire University. While she tries to appeal to the newly graduated in this ever-important primary state, don’t be fooled – she is aligning herself with the party that is making it harder and harder for young people to afford college. Just a few days ago, Fiorina’s party agreed upon a budget that would:

  • Eliminate guaranteed funding for Pell Grants, subjecting the millions of students and families who rely on them to future cuts.
  • Scale back the Pay-As-You-Earn program, which helps millions of young people by capping monthly loan repayment at 10% of their income
  • Ending subsidized Stafford loans, which have helped keep costs down on loans for some 28 million borrowers.

“Fiorina and the other GOP hopefuls may be trying to appeal to New Hampshire students and recent graduates, but we won’t be fooled by political stunts,” said Lucas Meyer, President of the New Hampshire Young Democrats. “The Republican Party continues to make it harder and harder for New Hampshire’s young people to get ahead by cutting the very programs that make it possible for thousands in New Hampshire to go to college. Granite Staters know that education is the key to success for young people and Republicans are standing in the way of that success.”

Fiorina is a the polar opposite to progressives like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren who are pushing a bill to eliminate tax loopholes that allow corporations to avoid paying taxes by hiding their corporate profits overseas, and using that new revenue to provide tuition free college.

Republicans in Washington are also holding college students back by refusing to allow students to refinance their student loans to take advantage of low interest rates.

In the interview with the Concord Monitor Congressman Frank Guinta stated  “he’d oppose any measure to eliminate student loan debt and saddle taxpayers with that cost instead.”  The current proposal by Senator Warren and co-sponsored by Sen. Shaheen would allow students to refinance their federal student loans.  This does not shift the burden to the taxpayers, it stops the government from collecting over $60 billion in profits off the backs of our college students.

New Hampshire ranks first in the country in average debt per graduate, at nearly $33,000, and according to estimates, nearly 130,000 New Hampshire residents could benefit from this bill.

“Throughout New Hampshire and across the country people are struggling with the increasing costs of higher education and that’s hurting our students and our economy,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “Students should be able to refinance their loans just like homeowners can refinance their mortgages. Our plan will help borrowers save thousands on their loans and we ought to act on it on behalf of students who are struggling with crippling debt.”

The GOP will find it very difficult to woo potential college voters by forcing them into massive debt before they start their adult lives.

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.

Senator Shaheen Renews Effort To Help Students Refinance Loans

Shaheen co-sponsors Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Yesterday U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) cosponsored the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, legislation that was reintroduced to allow those with outstanding student loan debt to refinance at lower interest rates offered to new borrowers in the 2013-2014 school year. New Hampshire ranks first in the country in average debt per graduate, at nearly $33,000, and according to estimates, nearly 130,000 New Hampshire residents could benefit from this bill.

“Throughout New Hampshire and across the country people are struggling with the increasing costs of higher education and that’s hurting our students and our economy,” said Shaheen. “Students should be able to refinance their loans just like homeowners can refinance their mortgages. Our plan will help borrowers save thousands on their loans and we ought to act on it on behalf of students who are struggling with crippling debt.”

Many borrowers with outstanding student loans have interest rates of nearly 7 percent or higher for their undergraduate loans, while students taking out new undergraduate loans in the 2013-2014 school year paid a rate of 3.86 percent under the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act passed by Congress in 2013. The Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act could lower payments for millions of borrowers.

The average student loan debt among those who borrow to get a bachelor’s degree is more than $28,000 – and nearly 30% of Federal Direct student loan dollars are in default, forbearance, or deferment.

Throughout her career Shaheen has worked to make college more affordable and accessible, leading efforts to increase access to higher education for New Hampshire students and voting to maintain low interest rates for Stafford loans. She also supported education reforms in 2010 that increased the maximum Pell Grant to $5,730 to help low-income students go to college.

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