Where They Stand is a regular series leading up to the 2014 midterm elections detailing where major candidates for office stand on issues of importance for students. Today, we examine student loans.
By Arielle Hines
Americans owe money on their student loans – a lot of money.
In fact, they over a trillion dollars in student loan debt debt, and many economists worry that rapidly rising student loan debt is infating the next financial bubble to burst and harm the economy.
Student loan debt is a thorny issue that has both short-term and long-term ramifications. So, where do your candidates stand?
U.S. Senate race
U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate
Peters sponsored a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives extending subsidized federal student loans rates at 3.2 percent until 2015 in an attempt to keep rates from increasing to 6.8 percent.
He voted against on the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013, which allowed borrowers to take loans at 3.9% for undergraduates, 5.4% for graduates and 10.5% for PLUS Loans for the 2013-2014 year. The law, signed by President Barack Obama, ties federal loan increases to the 10-year Treasury note but caps interest rates for the next 10-years at 8.25 percent for undergraduate, 9.5 percent for graduate and 10.4 percent for PLUS loans.
Peters said during a visit to Central Michigan University in April that he was working on legislation that would give students a second chance if they default on a student loan.
Terri Lynn Land, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate:
While largely Land gave her support to the 2012 Republican Platform, which called for much less government control of student loans and welcomes privatization.
However, she called for providing student loans for skills training programs.
“We really need high skill workers,” Land told the conservative Free Beacon. That’s what I’m hearing from the businesses I talk to. So instead of focusing on just four-year college, they could get the same [student] loans and support as a person who goes to college.”
The Governor’s Race
Gov. Rick Snyder, Republican:
In an address in Ann Arbor this summer, Snyder said states should encourage students to dual enroll in high-school so they will take out fewer loans in college and thinks that need-based financial aid needs to be “looked at.”
Mark Schauer, Democratic candidate for governor:
On his website, Schauer said that he would “establish a student loan refinancing authority to allow qualified borrowers to refinance their student loans at lower interest rates.”
Schauer said in 2013 that the state should look for ways to keep Michigan college costs down so that fewer loans would need to be taken out by students.
Other state-level races
State. Rep. Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant:
Cotter has said that he does not see student loans as a state issue, although he said the state can play a role in limiting tuition rate increases, as it has done under Snyder.
“Loans are given out mostly at the federal level, though, so there isn’t much the state can do in regards to loans,” Cotter said to CM Life earlier this year.
Bryan Mielke, Democratic candidate for State House:
“Possible long-term funding solutions that I would support as a legislator include providing more financial aid opportunities to Michigan students,” Mielke said in a prepared statement, while short on specifics.