NAACP Strongly Urges United States Senate to Pass Legislation to Stop Student Loan Interest Rates

DEFEAT OF S. 2343, THE “STOP THE STUDENT LOAN INTEREST RATE HIKE” WOULD DRAMATICALLY INCREASE STUDENT DEBT

The United States Senate is expected to vote this afternoon on S. 2343, the Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act of 2012.  This key, NAACP-supported legislation would stop interest rates on student loans from doubling from 3.4% to 6.8% on July 1, 2012.  Nationwide, more than 7.4 million students with federal student loans will see their interest rates double unless Congress steps in to keep them low. Over 20% of those affected, or 1.5 million students, are African American, and nearly 1 million are Latino American students. If the Congress defeats this legislation and the interest rate is doubled, it is estimated that students will pay an average of $1,000 more per loan.

Specifically, the vote will be on whether or not to invoke cloture, and end debate, on the bill so there can then be a final vote on passage.  Under the rules of the Senate, 60 “yea” votes are required to invoke cloture; otherwise, the bill is considered “filibustered” and dies.

The challenge currently facing the Senate appears to be how to offset, or pay for, the $6 billion cost of keeping the interest rates low.  Some support legislation which would pay for keeping student loans low by eliminating a key component of the recently-enacted, NAACP-supported health care reform act.  Others, including the NAACP, support closing a tax loophole which would only affect those earning more than $250,000 a year.  S. 2343 pays for the maintenance of low student loan interest rates by closing the tax loophole.

At a time when Americans owe more on student loans than credit cards, we should keep interest rates on student loans low so more Americans, and especially racial and ethnic minority Americans, get a fair shot at an affordable college education and the skills they need to find a good job and a clear path to middle class.  We should not do this, however, at the expense of a program which has been proven to save lives and save money, especially when there are other viable options.

THE NAACP STRONGLY URGES SENATORS TO VOTE “YES” ON CLOTURE FOR S. 2343

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