Senator Stabenow Highlights Legislation to Keep Michigan Students from Going #InTheRed

Sen. Stabenow meets with college students to discuss the Reducing Educational Debt (RED) Act to help achieve debt-free college for students

Thursday, February 18, 2016

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow met with college students online and at Western Michigan University, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and the University of Michigan to discuss her #InTheRed campaign to raise awareness and take action to reduce the staggering burden of student loan debt for college graduates. Senator Stabenow is an author of the Reducing Educational Debt (RED) Act to allow student loan borrowers to refinance high-interest student loans, to create new federal and state partnerships to make community college free for eligible students, and to increase Pell Grant awards.

“Too many people in Michigan are saddled with decades of debt just because they wanted a fair shot to go to college and get ahead,” said Senator Stabenow. “That‘s why I’m meeting with college students on college campuses and online this week, so we we can work together to put our country on a path to debt-free college for future generations. Making college affordable will improve the lives of millions of Americans and boost our economy by giving graduates the ability to spend their money on a home, a car, and the needs of their families.”

“The student debt issue is undeniably crippling to our nation’s future,” said Thye Fischman, Vice President of the Western Student Association. “Innovative steps need to be taken to address this problem, and to insure a bright future for our students. I appreciate Senator Stabenow for coming to Western Michigan University, speaking with students and discussing the issues we are facing regarding student debt.”

“We were very excited for the opportunity to have Senator Stabenow on Campus to address this important issue,” said Domonique Clemons, Student Body President, Associated Students of MSU. “MSU Students and students across the state of Michigan are graduating with more student loan debt than ever before. It is great to know that we have a champion like Senator Stabenow who will stand up and push to make college more affordable.”

“If knowledge is power, then we are at a significant handicap in the U.S.,” said Chris Gregory, Wayne State University Student Senate. “Senator Stabenow understands this and I'd like to thank her for her efforts at helping us bridge this gap by making post-secondary education a more equitable and obtainable dream than it has been for many years.  I know she won't stop until the current and prospective students in the State of Michigan no longer have to worry about whether or not they can afford to go to college.”

“We are excited to welcome Senator Stabenow to campus for a forum on student loan debt,” said Cooper Charlton, University of Michigan Student Body President. “She has been instrumental in advocating for students at Michigan -- and we appreciate her efforts to engage students at the University.”

The RED Act includes three provisions:

Student Loan Refinancing- The RED Act will allow all eligible federal student loan borrowers to refinance their high-interest loans down to the rates offered to new federal borrowers in the 2013-2014 school year (3.86% for undergraduates, 5.4% for graduate students, 6.4% for parents).

Two Years of Free Community College- The RED Act will make it possible to waive resident tuition fees for two years of community and technical college programs for eligible students. Every $1 invested by States to achieve this goal will be matched by $3 in federal funds.

Increasing Pell Grants- The RED Act will tie future Pell Grant increases to inflation, increasing the maximum award based on the Consumer Price Index. In 10 years, the maximum Pell Grant Award to a Michigan student would be $1300 larger than under current law.

62 percent of students in Michigan graduate #InTheRed with student loan debt. A student who graduated from a 4-year Michigan college or university in 2014 owes on average almost $30,000 in loans, making Michigan 9th in the country on average student loan debt.

Student loan debt in the United States is over $1.3 trillion and is the 2nd highest form of consumer debt.