A report by Roll Call found that one in every ten members of Congress has student loan debt.
Student loan debt is not just a problem facing everyday Americans; it is also a problem that affects many members of the 115th Congress. One-tenth of Congressional leaders have some form of student loan debt, either for themselves or a family member.
Fifty-three Congress members currently owe a combined total of $1.8 million in student loan debt. And according to a report by Roll Call that examines Congressional wealth, 25 members of Congress have a negative net worth due to his or her outstanding student loans.
Florida Democratic Rep. Darren Soto acknowledged that he still owes $75,000 in student loans after attending George Washington University Law School. However, Soto admitted that he owed a large part of his success to his graduating from a top law school despite the huge responsibility of paying back those student loans.
Twenty-eight Republicans collectively owe $830,000 in student loan debt while 25 Democrats owe more than $1 million in student loans. Only three of those Congressmen are senators; the rest are house members.
Six members of Congress owe more than $100,000 each in student loan debt. South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy owes $150,000 on a dependent child’s college education. Texas Republican John Carter still owes over $100,000 on loans that were originally taken out in 1988. California Democratic Rep. Raul Ruiz owes more than $100,000 after earning an MD and two master’s degrees from Harvard University.
Ten members of Congress are still ranking as millionaires in spite of their student loan debt. California Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna owes $50,000 in student loan debt but family money still puts his total net worth at $28 million. And while Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III’s wife owes $25,000 in student loans, Kennedy’s trust fund is worth $19 million.
However, not all members of Congress were so fortunate. Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema and California Rep. Eric Swalwell both have student loans that put them in the red, according to Roll Call.
While most members of Congress relied on federal loans, four members used private education loans. Democratic Rep. Brendan F. Boyle listed his creditors as Citibank and Discover. Republicans Andy Biggs and Lloyd K. Smucker both used Wells Fargo. And Democratic Rep. Mark Takano used SoFi to lower the interest rates on his federal loans.
On average, younger members of Congress owe more student loan debt than older members. The Gen Xers made up the majority of this debt, owing a combined total of $1.2 million in student loans.
Of the 17 Democrats and 23 Republicans that make up the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, seven members have outstanding student loan debt. And only one senator with student loan debt serves on the Health, Education Labor, and Pensions Committee.
Many Americans are currently struggling to repay their student loan debt. Borrowers who have trouble making their monthly payment might consider refinancing or opting for an income-based repayment plan, if possible.
It can also be helpful to identify the loans with the highest interest rates and focus on paying those down first. And borrowers should be wary of programs that promise to dismiss their loans. Very few borrowers tend to qualify for loan forgiveness, so it’s important to make sure the program isn’t a scam.