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Students Condemn Congressmen Southerland, Webster and Young For “Students Pay More Act”

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Congressman Southerland, Webster and Young Poised to Back Bill Which Spikes Cost of College for Students 

Tallahassee, FL – Today Florida Republicans like Congressmen Southerland, Webster and Young are poised to back the Students Pay More Act, dramatically increasing the cost of college for students and their families.  In response, the Florida Democratic Party today held a press call with Elana McGovern, President of  the Florida College Democrats and FSU College Democrats, condemning Florida Republicans like Congressmen Southerland, Webster and Young for spiking the cost of education, increasing student debt and making it harder for students and middle class families to afford college.

According to the Associated Press, the Republican bill which Congressmen Southerland, Webster and Young are poised to support dramatically increases the interest rate that students will be forced to pay on their Stafford Student Loans, and will “cost students and families heavily.” Initiallyinterest rates will increase to 5 percent next yearAfter that, it gets worse: student’s rates will continue to spike– spiraling upwards to 7.7-percent in 2023 – increasing national student loan debt by $3.7 billion over the next decade.

“Today Republicans like Congressmen Southerland, Webster and Young are poised to take money out of the pockets of students and our families  – increasing our debt and making it harder to afford the education we need to grow Florida’s economy,” said Elana McGovern, President of the Florida College Democrats. “Floridians believe that keeping college affordable helps students, helps middle class families and helps power our state’s growth. But if Congressmen Southerland, Webster and Young join with Republicans in Congress to make students pay more, Congressmen Southerland, Webster and Young will have show once again that they are out of touch with our values and part of the problem in Washington.”

 

BACKGROUND:

GOP Proposal to Avert Student Loan Hike Would Mean Climbing Rates Reset Every Year. “Without Congress’ action, interest rates for new subsidized Stafford student loans would double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1 […] Under the GOP proposal, student loans would be reset every year and based on 10-year Treasury notes, plus an added percentage […] Using Congressional Budget Office projections, that would translate to a 5 percent interest rate on Stafford loans in 2014, but the rate would climb to 7.7 percent for loans in 2023. Stafford loan rates would be capped at 8.5 percent, while loans for parents and graduate students would have a 10.5 percent ceiling under the GOP proposal.” [Associated Press, 5/16/13]

“The GOP Plan Would Cost Students and Families Heavily.” “In real dollars, the GOP plan would cost students and families heavily, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service […] Republicans, however, stood by the proposal as needed amid economic struggles.” [Associated Press, 5/16/13]

Over 50 Percent of Florida College Students Have Loan Debt. The Project on Student Debt reported that 51 percent of Florida College students have loan debt, with an average of $23,054 per borrower. [Project on Student Debt, accessed 5/21/13]

Florida Republican Congressmen Voted to Slash Pell Grant Eligibility and Freeze Pell Grant Funding.  In March 2013, Florida Republican Congressmen voted for the House Republican budget. Inside Higher Ed reported, “The budget also calls for reversing changes to the grant’s needs analysis formula put into place in 2007, which expanded the number of students eligible for Pell Grants, in essence making fewer students eligible to receive them.” In addition, Campus Progress found: “Under the House Republican Budget, Pell Grants would be capped at the current level of $5,645 for 10 years, and eliminate all mandatory funding. In other words, under Ryan’s plan, Pell Grants would not keep up with the pace of inflation and rising tuition costs, and would be worth less each successive year.” [Inside Higher Ed, 3/13/13; Campus Progress, 3/12/13; H Con Res 25, Vote #88, 3/21/13]

Last Year, Florida Republican Congressmen Voted to Cut Pell Grants for 9.6 Million Students. On March 29, 2012, Florida Republican Congressmen voted in favor of a spending plan that could cut Pell grants by more than $1,000 in 2014 for 9.6 million students. [H Con Res 112, Vote #151, 3/29/12; OMB, 3/21/12]

Congressman Southerland Said He Would Eliminate the Department of Education. “I think departments like the Department of Education, Department of Energy, the EPA,  I think those are things that right now we can’t afford. And in business, if we can’t afford it, we don’t buy it. There’s a lot of money being spent in Washington D.C. that we could eliminate if we cut, and those are some of the departments I would cut right there [...] I believe that our education system in many ways is incompetent. The federal government is in charge of it. It needs to be pushed back to the states, and to the counties, and to the local communities.” [Suwannee County REC Candidate Forum, 6/08/10]