March 22, 2019

Senators Hassan, Shaheen Join in Reintroducing Bipartisan Legislation to Aid Student Loan Borrowers

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan, a member of the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen last week joined their colleagues in reintroducing legislation that would allow undergraduate borrowers repaying public or private loans to refinance those loans at an interest rate of 3.76 percent. The Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act would also allow graduate and parent borrowers to refinance to competitive rates, reducing monthly payments and helping borrowers repay loans sooner.

“Ensuring that our students have access to an affordable higher education is critical to their own success and the success of our economy in New Hampshire, but we know that an entire generation is being held back by student loan debt,” Senator Hassan said. “By allowing students to refinance their loans at a lower interest rate, this legislation is one important way we can help relieve the burden of student loan debt for hard-working Granite Staters and Americans.”

“Crushing student loan debt is one of the biggest problems impacting this generation and that’s particularly true for Granite Staters who have the highest per capita student loan debt in the nation,” Senator Shaheen said. “Student loan debt can follow students for years, impacting their ability to compete in the workforce and make important financial decisions that allow them to participate in our economy. This is a serious concern Congress needs to prioritize, and this bill can play an important role in that effort.”

The Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act would allow borrowers with existing public or private student loans to refinance those loans to a 3.76 percent annual interest rate – the same lower rate that was offered in the 2016-2017 school year. Graduate school loans could be refinanced to 5.41 percent, and parent loans for a child’s education to 6.41 percent. According to estimates from the Department of Education, about 25 million borrowers would be likely to refinance under this legislation, and borrowers would receive an average savings of $2,000 over the life of their loan. The legislation was introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and a companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Joe Courtney (D-CT).

Senators Hassan and Shaheen cosponsored this legislation in the last Congress and they have historically prioritized efforts to improve college affordability and confront the student debt burden affecting more than 40 million Americans across the country. Yesterday, Senator Maggie Hassan visited Keene State College, where she discussed the growing burden of student loan debt with students, young alumni, and parents. As the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee – on which Senator Hassan serves – works on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act this year, Senator Hassan is focused on ensuring that the bipartisan legislation takes real steps to help make college more affordable.

Senator Shaheen previously led bipartisan legislation with former Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) that would curb climbing student loan debt by improving the federal standard by which colleges are eligible for federal assistance and holding schools accountable for their students’ ability to repay their loans. As the lead Democrat of the Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for funding the Department of Education, Shaheen has fought to support programs that invest in higher education.

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