News from Representative Suzanne Bonamici

Report on Student Debt Town Hall Meeting

Student loan debt is a growing problem. I recently held a town hall meeting at Portland State University to hear from students struggling with the rising cost of college. Students provided valuable insight into how the burden of student debt is affecting their lives. 

One PSU student I met, Brianna, struggled to afford her tuition despite receiving several federal aid awards. After two semesters, the cost became too much and she chose to leave PSU to pursue an associate's degree and save up the money to return to PSU. She hopes to ultimately receive a degree in film, but says the rising cost of college has been a barrier to pursuing a degree. Her story and others like it provided valuable insight into some of the choices students face as the cost of college continues to rise.

In Congress, I am working on legislation to make the cost of college more transparent so students can make decisions based on accurate estimates of the debt they will accrue and have better information about loan repayment options, especially income-based repayment plans. I am also a cosponsor of the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, which would allow students to refinance their loans at a lower rate.

When I went to college, I was able to finance my associate, bachelors, and law degree with very little debt, but stories like mine are increasingly rare. Higher education has become a major financial commitment, but it is still one of the best opportunities for people to live up to their full potential and earn a living wage that allows them to not only support their families, but also save for retirement. Burdening students with insurmountable debt limits their choices after college and can delay other major life milestones. For some, the prospect of significant debt keeps them from pursuing a college degree altogether. We should be supporting, not discouraging, students who want to go to college.

Thank you to the student panelists and audience for participating in the town hall meeting and telling your stories. I am committed to doing all I can to make college more affordable and accessible.



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