Mark Pocan, U.S. Representative for Wisconsin, speaking at an unrelated event.
A bipartisan bill, H.R. 1614, that would allow student loan borrowers to “modify the interest rate of such loans to be equal to the interest rate for such loans at the time of modification” has been introduced once again to the House of Representatives. In short, this is another federal student loan refinancing bill. Currently, there is no federal refinancing option for student loan repayment; today, there is only a federal loan consolidation program.
The main sponsor for the bill is Mark Pocan, a Democratic U.S. Representative for Wisconsin’s Second Congressional District, who introduced the bill to the House floor on March 17. Since its introduction, it has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce according the congressional government website.
The fact that politicians on both sides of the aisle support this bill may come as a surprise, but while technically bipartisan, the bill can hardly be considered as such. Out of thirty-three cosponsors to the bill, only two, Rep. Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin and Rep. John Katko of New York, are Republicans. All other cosponsors are part of the Democratic party.
At any rate, the introduction of a federal student loan refinancing bill is not original; in fact, several bills are introduced each year aiming to accomplish the same objective. Most notably, Senator Elizabeth Warren has introduced the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act which has come up multiple times a year since 2013 according to the congressional database. The success in the private student loan refinancing market may be driving these efforts, or maybe the common sense savings of refinancing is something politicians want to provide as a federal benefit.
The legislation is yet another byproduct of the caustic situation that politicians dealing with higher education have on their hands. The cost of a higher education has skyrocketed by at least 300 percent over the last 30 years, leaving students with no other choice but to take out loans to pay for college. Student loan debt has blossomed to a staggering $1.4 trillion spread across over 44 million borrowers. The problem cannot be ignored which explains the congressional activity. Only one question remains: will the bill gain traction on the congressional floor?
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