Tallahassee, FL — After raising tuition by double digits, Rick Scott is now attempting to portray himself as an advocate for keeping college costs low. But if his newfound concern for higher education was truly genuine and not just an electioneering gimmick, why has the Governor done nothing to stop student loan rates from doubling on July 1?
Apparently, Scott hasn’t even spoken with Florida’s Republican members of Congress on this issue. Why isn’t he pushing Florida’s Republican members Congress to keep the cost of college low? On June 7, Scott’s only public statement on this issue admitted student loan rates are “scheduled to double” — but he has done nothing to prevent it.
In fact, student loan rates are only “scheduled to double” because members of the House GOP are refusing to take commonsense action, instead voting for half measures that will increase the cost of going to college for many students by over $1,000 per year. The House recently voted along party lines — 221 to 198 — with every member of Florida’s GOP delegation but one voting for the “Students Pay More Act.” Instead of fixing the problem, Florida’s Republican members of Congress voted to raise student interest rates as high as 8.5%.
“It’s time for Rick Scott to stop the political theatrics and get serious about keeping college affordable for middle class Floridians,” said FDP Chair Allison Tant. “For the Governor not to push members of his own party to reject sky-high interest rates for college loans shows that his recent about-face on higher education is nothing more than political posturing — when push came to shove, Rick Scott raised tuition by double digits and cut hundreds of millions in college funding. Floridians are asking for leadership and Rick Scott has proven his inability to do just that.”
Scott Said Interest Loans Are “Scheduled to Double” — And Has Said Nothing Else. In a statement sent to university presidents following his veto of a 3% college tuition increase, Scott said, “This increase comes at a time when interest rates on student loans are scheduled to double next month.” (Official website of Governor Rick Scott, 6/7/13)
The Average College Graduate Has $26,600 in Student Loan Debt; Total National Student Loan Debt Exceeds $1.1 Trillion. According to the Washington Post: “A recent report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that there 38 million student loan borrowers in the United States and the total debt load has passed $1.1 trillion. The Project on Student Debt has estimated that 66 percent of graduating college seniors in 2011 had some student loan debt, with an average balance of $26,600.” (Washington Post, 5/20/13)
AP: House Republican Plan Would Raise Student Loan Interest Rates Up to 8.5 Percent. According to the Associated Press: “Under the GOP proposal, student loans would be reset every year and based on 10-year Treasury notes, plus an added percentage. For instance, students who receive subsidized or unsubsidized Stafford student loans would pay the Treasury rate, plus 2.5 percentage points. 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 vote on HR 1911, the “Students Pay More Act,” was 221 to 198, with 217 Republicans in favor and 190 Democrats against. (HR 1911, Roll Call # 183, 5/23/13)