Durbin Pushes Bill That Would Reduce Student Debt


DEKALB- Illinois Senator Dick Durbin went to Northern Illinois University (NIU) in Dekalb on Friday to push for the Bank on Students Emergency Refinancing Act. The legislation will allow students to lower the interest rate on their college loans.

"[We have to] understand their debt, understand the compromise they are making in their lives, and the concerns they have about their futures.  It's obvious [something has to be done]," Durbin says. "If you can refinance a car loan, if you can refinance a mortgage, you have to be able to refinance a student loan to a lower interest rate."

People with outstanding student loans have an interest rate of 7% or higher, but students with undergrad loans now pay as low as 3.8% rate. The new bill would allow all of them to pay back their loans at the same low rates, and it would be paid for by limiting tax breaks for the wealthy.

"I think it will benefit us tremendously just because we are the population that experienced the fixed 6.8%, and we are the ones who are going to be paying the same old rate as opposed to future generations who are coming in with this newer debt," said Whitney Francisco, a law student at NIU.

If this legislation becomes a reality, college administrators hope more people in Illinois will consider a college education.

"I do think that lower interest rates would allow more students to come to school, and also to stay in school. It would also allow students to do it in a shorter period of time," said Doug Baker, president of the college.

Even though some say chances of getting the bill passed are slim, others believe there's still hope.

"We have to push our congressman to make education affordable to all of our students, because loan burden is a reality that we cannot longer hide," said Jessica Ibares, a financial aid counselor.

The senate is expected to vote on this bill once they are back in session next month, but some say it is unlikely to pass because many would view it as a tax increase.

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