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Faith Groups Call on Congress to Protect Student Loans

by Jubilee USA Network Tuesday, Jun. 26, 2012 at 8:18 AM

WASHINGTON, DC – As the Senate debates student loan reform, more than 40 congregations across the nation prayed during this weekend’s worship services to call on Congress to make college more affordable. Congregations are praying, delivering petitions and calling their Members of Congress to urge them to stop Stafford student loan interest rates from rising on July 1st.

“We can’t burden tomorrow’s leaders with unsustainable debts. Our faith teaches us that we have a responsibility to ensure that all of us are able to reach our full potential - from one generation to the next,” said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA, a network of religious denominations and 200 congregations tackling unjust debt.

The interest rate for student loans is scheduled to double from 3.4% to 6.8% on July 1st, unless Congress intervenes to extend the low current rate. The new rate would affect federally subsidized Stafford loans, which are provided to almost 7.5 million low and moderate-income students nationwide each year.

“Skyrocketing student debt has a major impact on a young person's future,” said Pastor Bill Harman from the ELCA's Pacifica Synod in southern California. “Whether your degree is in Theology or Economics, you may need to take jobs to pay your student debt, not jobs that might help you on your chosen career path."

The average student borrower already graduates with over $25,000 in student loans. On average, the doubling of the interest rate would add approximately $1,000 in debt for every year a student takes out a loan, adding up to more than $4,000 over a four-year education. “Without student loans, I would have never been able to go to school and now I have over $50,000 in debt,” said Jenn Lindsay, a student in religious studies. “Once I graduate, I imagine my debt load will force me to take the first vocation offer which is a career-long commitment.”

To stop the rate hike, Congress needs to act by July 1st to maintain the existing interest rate.

Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations, 200 faith communities and 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee USA Network has won critical global financial reforms and more than 100 billion dollars in debt relief for the world’s poorest countries. Jubilee USA believes students are our future, and recognize we must make connections between unsustainable loans that hurt our local and global communities.
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