This bill makes college more accessible and affordable by cutting the interest rates on subsidized student loans in half - from the current 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent. This significantly cuts the student debt burden of about 5 million students.
Cutting student loan interest rates is supported by 88 percent of the American public - with a majority of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats all in support. [Newsweek poll, 11/06]
The costs of attending college continue to skyrocket - putting college out-of-reach for more and more students. Tuition and fees at public universities have increased by 41 percent after inflation since the 2000-2001 school year and tuition and fees at private universities have jumped by 17 percent after inflation.
In addition to tuition and fees rising, interest rates on student loans have risen. Over the last five years, the interest rates on student loans have jumped by almost 2 percentage points - further increasing the cost of college. More and more students are staggering under the load of student debt - with the typical student borrower now graduating from college with $17,500 in debt.
According to studies from the Department of Education, financial barriers will prevent 4.4 million high school graduates from attending a four-year public college over the next decade, and prevent another two million high school graduates from attending any college at all.
More than ever, the health of our economy rests on having a highly-skilled and well-educated workforce. College access is the key to our remaining strong in the face of an increasingly competitive global economy. Without changes, by the year 2020, the United States is projected to face a shortage of up to 12 million college-educated workers, directly threatening America's economic strength.