May 28, 2018 Blog, Press Releases

Casten Gives Roskam Failing Grade on Student Loan Debt

Sixth District Congressional candidate Sean Casten today ripped Rep. Peter Roskam for adding to the debt burden facing millions of college students and offered his own plan to make college more affordable for working families.

“In today’s knowledge-based economy, a college education is the ticket to a good job and a career,” Casten said.  “But the rising cost of higher education makes it hard for many families to make that critical investment.”

Casten pointed to a recent report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York that found student loan debt in the U.S. rose to $1.38 trillion at the end of 2017, up $68 billion from the year before.

“College graduates shouldn’t start their careers with a huge load of debt.  And families shouldn’t have to mortgage their homes to put their children through college,” Casten said.  “Rather than helping local families pay for college, Peter Roskam has made things worse.”

Casten’s plan to ease the debt burden on families and students includes:

*  Allowing any holder of student loan debt to refinance at current rates.

*  Overhauling provisions in the 2005 Bankruptcy Bill that have made it practically impossible to discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy.

*  Restoring the top tax rate for millionaires to 39.6 percent (from 37 percent under the Roskam tax bill) and using the resulting revenue to increase Pell Grants for college students.

*  Indexing Pell Grants to the rate of average college tuition growth, to ensure that the value of the grant doesn’t diminish over time.  This also will make Pell Grants more valuable at schools that control their tuition growth.

“In the 2016-2017 school year, almost 15,000 students from the 6th District received Pell Grants worth nearly $50 million,” Casten said.  “Yet Roskam voted repeatedly to cut Pell Grants while his tax bill handed billions of dollars in tax breaks to big corporations and millionaires.” [H. Con Res. 27, Vote #142, 3/25/15; New York Times, 3/25/15]

Casten also noted Roskam’s 2014 vote against allowing consideration of a bill providing student loan refinancing and relief that would have allowed 25 million people to refinance their student loans at lower interest rates. [H Res 616, Vote #298, 6/11/14; CQ, 6/11/14]

“Peter Roskam’s priorities are simply wrong,” Casten said.  “We ought to be investing in the young people who are this nation’s future rather than burying them in debt that makes the path to success that much harder.”