State PIRGs' Higher Education Project
218 D Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 546-9707

Ivan Frishberg

Ellynne Bannon


For Immediate Release:
January 24 , 2002

Ellynne Bannon
(202) 546-9707

Student Loan Interest Rate Legislation (S. 1762) Will Make College More Affordable For Millions
Statement of Ellynne Bannon, Higher Education Advocate

We are very pleased by the final passage in the House of Representatives today of the Johnson student loan interest rate bill (S.1762). This legislation is an important step in making college more affordable for millions of Americans. S.1762 will lower interest rates on Federal student loans, saving the typical student borrower $680 over the life of their loan, even by conservative estimates.

Over the last several months, PIRG has worked closely with other student advocates and the lending community to develop a compromise that will deliver low cost loans to student borrowers and maintain the stability of the guaranteed student loan program. We're confident that S.1762 does this and we applaud the passage of this provision.

This bill was brought up on the last day of the session this past December, under the suspension of rules calendar, but fell short of the two-thirds majority needed by 13 votes. We understand that those who voted against S.1762 did so not because they opposed the bill, but because other key legislation was not considered that day.

As tuition costs skyrocket, and grant aid decreases, increasing numbers of students are turning to loans as the primary mechanism to finance a college education. The typical student graduates with more than $16,000 in debt. One third of all seniors will graduate with more than $20,000 in student loan debt. S.1762 is a key step to ensuring that college is affordable for the average American.

We applaud Representatives George Miller (CA), John Boehner (OH), and Howard "Buck" McKeon (CA) for championing low cost loans for students and for ensuring that this important legislation was brought to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

State PIRGs are non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy groups. The Higher Education Project was established in 1994 to secure more aid for students, with a focus on additional grants, reduced debt, and better service to students in the federal financial aid system.