The Massachusetts senator encouraged participants in a June 3 national briefing call to back her up in the fight to pass the “Bank on Students” bill.
“We have to do this together,” Warren said to the 11,000 included in the call, asking them to contact members of Congress on the subject.
The interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans is set to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 on July 1 unless both houses of Congress approve a bill declaring new rates.
Warren’s bill would set the rate at only 0.75 percent, the same interest that the Federal Reserve already charges on loans to financial institutions.
“Students should have access to the same great deals we pass on to banks,” she said.
“We make investments in banks every day and at low interest rates because it’s supposed to be good for our economy. If that’s the case, we should be able to do this for our kids.”
The public needs to let Congress know that they support her bill, though.
“I’m not in this by myself,” Warren said. “Call, email and tweet your representatives. Ask them about it at public meetings. We’ve got to say ‘this issue matters’.”
Through a directory website, interested persons can enter their home addresses to receive the telephone and fax numbers of their senators and congressional representative, as well as links to the contact forms on their websites. Another directory offers Twitter account information for members of Congress.
Passing her bill would only be one step in correcting a crisis, Warren said when asked by a participant how the senator would help those who already have unmanageable student loans. “This is just a foot in the door to make the changes we need to make.
“We have two big tasks in front of us,” she offered, the first being “the student loan debt that’s already out there; we need to get it down and under control.” The collective amount owed on student loans nationwide recently surpassed $1 trillion, more than the balance of car loans and credit card debt.
For the second task, “we’ve got to attack the rising cost of college head-on.”
Tuition costs have skyrocketed, she agreed when a caller noted “20 years ago, good union jobs could put kids through college.”
Because wages have since stagnated while tuition rates dramatically grew (a 440 percent increase over the last 25 years), college is now unaffordable for most Americans, said the Teamster from Oregon.
The current costs are “a fundamentally wrong approach,” Warren responded. “Today’s work requires more education after high school to reach good-paying jobs,” but high tuition only adds another brick to the wall that blocks young citizens from realizing the American dream, she said.
Also joining the conversation was Robert Applebaum, a member of MoveOn, which joined the Working Families Party in organization of the conference call.
Applebaum reminded participants of Warren’s request for aid. “We need all of you to make as much noise as possible,” he said. “We need to put human faces to the student debt crisis.”