Grand Forks, ND – On the campus of the University of North Dakota today, U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a member of the Banking Committee, brought together North Dakota educators, students and administrators to discuss student loans. Heitkamp, who attended college with the help of Pell grants and student loans, is committed to addressing current student loan rate issues, as well as finding long-term solutions to ensure education is affordable for North Dakota students. Unless Congress acts, on July 1 the interest rate for new subsidized Stafford loans is set to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.
“I know firsthand the importance of investing in our young people — I attended college with the help of federal Pell grants and student loans,” said Heitkamp. “It was reaffirmed today we need to take action in the short term to avert the interest rate increase, and we must work on a long-term solution to address student loan debt.”
At today’s discussion, Heitkamp heard from administrators from two and four-year schools, undergraduate and graduate students, parents, as well as young professionals. Participants expressed serious concerns about the proposed rate hike. They also encouraged Heitkamp to continue her work finding long-term solutions to make higher education affordable.
On June 6, Heitkamp voted in support of The Student Loan Affordability Act, which would extend and fully pay for an additional two years of the current 3.4 percent interest rate on subsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans. Unfortunately, the bill was defeated as opponents supported a different proposal, the Student Loan Protection Act, which also failed. That legislation would have locked students into rates above 8 percent by 2018. Heitkamp opposed the legislation because she does not support balancing our budget on the backs of college students.