Legislation would help thousands of RI student loan borrowers

NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — The U.S. Senate is expected to consider legislation next week that would lower student loan payments for millions of Americans, and Thursday Rhode Island Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse met with local students impacted by debt.

The average four-year tuition has tripled in the past 30 years, and Americans now owe more than a trillion dollars in student loan debt. It’s a daunting burden for many students well beyond graduation.

“I am today $63,097.69 in debt,” said Danielle Dirocco of Narragansett. “All but one of my loans are at 6.8%.”

Reed and Whitehouse held a forum at CCRI’s Newport campus to hear first-hand from students in debt.

The legislation would allow roughly 25 million student loan borrowers, including 88,000 Rhode Islanders, to refinance their student loans at a lower rate. That would save each borrower about $2,000 over the life of their loan.

The Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act would allow existing borrowers to refinance using 2013-14 federal loan rates, which range from 3.86% for undergraduate loans to 6.41% for certain graduate and professional school loans.

“This bill is responsible in that the government will not be profiting off students, but we will not be funding this by deficit spending,” said Sen. Reed.

The senate is expected to vote on the bill next week.

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