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Signing up for classes (and debt)

Right now, recent high school graduates from across Long Island are moving into dorm rooms, signing up for classes, and making new friends as they embark on freshman year of college.

But at the same time, most of these young people are signing up for massive student loans that will dog them for years – even decades – after graduation.

Twenty years ago, less than half of all college students graduated with debt – today, it’s closer to 70 percent. Collectively, Americans owe more than $1 trillion in student debt – a debt that is holding us all back.

A college education should open doors for our young people to pursue their dreams, take risks, and excel in their careers, not shackle them to a debt that often feels unpayable.

Reducing the cost of college and ending the student debt crisis won’t be easy, but we know it can be done. Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren have put some smart ideas on the table, and I’m fighting for several proposals in Congress to get the job done. 

For starters, we should allow borrowers to refinance existing student loans at today’s low interest rates – just like a home mortgage.  That alone will put hundreds of dollars a month back into the pockets of regular New Yorkers to spend at local businesses and grow our local economy.  We should also allow graduates to make loan payments with pre-tax dollars, and expand tax breaks and Pell Grants for low and middle-income families to help them avoid taking on big loans in the first place.

The student debt crisis is a defining issue of our time. If we want our economy to grow and our young people to prosper we can’t sit on the sidelines.  It won’t be easy, but I know we can fix this.

Posted on September 4, 2015.
Photo by Joe Mabel
Together, we can break through the partisan gridlock and get important things done for the people of Long Island.

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Kathleen Rice represents New York's Fourth Congressional District on Long Island. A career prosecutor, Kathleen is a progressive Democrat known for her independent style and ability to work with people from both parties to take on big problems.

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