McMorris Supports Student Loan Bill, While Advocating for Increased Access to College for Current and Future Students

(Washington, DC) –Congresswoman Cathy McMorris today voted in favor of H.R. 5, The College Student Relief Act of 2007, which gradually reduces over a five year period the interest rates on subsidized Stafford student loans. Although supportive of the bill, McMorris believes more needs to be done to expand access to college education and address rising tuition costs.

“While well-intentioned, I was disappointed that this bill does nothing to increase students’ access to college,” said McMorris. “Reducing interest rates will help graduates with debt relief, but will not help the student who is currently struggling to meet the costs associated with higher education. We must do more to fund programs, like the Perkins Loan Program or Pell Grants, which actually do increase access and opportunities.”

“When addressing student aid, we must also look at rising tuition costs and the impact that is having on a student’s ability to afford college,” continued McMorris. “Tuition rates have risen above the costs of inflation. Congress should also examine the correlation between increases in federal loans and increases in college tuition. I hope that we will soon be able to address these issues.”

Over the past ten years, Washington State University and University of Washington have increased tuition and fees by 82 percent. In that same time, Washington’s per capita personal income increased by only 40 percent and inflation increased by only 22 percent.

McMorris worked her way through college and is still in the process of paying off student loans. As the first in her family to graduate from college, she is committed to ensuring that every student has access to higher education. For the past two years, McMorris has worked to restore funding to the Perkins Loan Program, which provides valuable financial assistance to disadvantaged students who might not otherwise be able to attend college.

Rather than increasing loan opportunities for students, this bill will gradually reduce the interest rate of the subsidized Stafford loan from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent over five years. The 3.4 percent interest rate would only stay in effect for six months, from July 1, 2011 through January 1, 2012.

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