PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — With more than 43 million people in the United States having to pay off $1.2 trillion in student loan debt, Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline said Thursday he’s going to propose a new law to reform the student loans system.
The congressman announced the plan at a roundtable discussion at the University of Rhode Island’s Providence campus. He’ll introduce the plan when the House returns September 6.
The “Making College More Affordable Act” will include five points, Cicilline’s office said:
- deduct monthly payments through an automatic payroll deduction, like Social Security contributions
- lower required monthly payments; instead of as much as 20 percent of a borrower’s after-tax income, contributions would start at 4 percent
- eliminate interest on student loans
- instead of writing loans with ranges between 10 and 25 years, they’ll have a range of 30 years, like a home mortgage
- allow at least 30 million Americans holding student loans today to refinance their existing student loan debt by entering into the new system
Cicilline’s office also said seven out of ten graduates from a four-year college leave school with debt, and cited a study by student loan marketplace “LendEDU” that says Rhode Island college graduates carry an average student loan debt of $35,169 — the second-highest total in the country.
“Millions of young Americans are being forced to either take on massive amounts of debt or give up on the pursuit of a college degree. This is completely wrong,” Cicilline said. “Higher education must be accessible and affordable to all who are willing to work hard, and not a privilege for the wealthy.”
Cicilline’s primary opponent, Chris Young, told Eyewitness News he also supports student loan reform. He said he wants to reintroduce bankruptcy protections for students who can’t pay their loans back. He also mentioned that he wants to establish a free online university for all U.S. students who complete K-12 education – something he says Cicilline does not support.