Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) issued the following statement today after Senate Republicans voted to block the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act - legislation that would help Americans struggling with student loan debt to refinance their loans at lower interest rates:

“Today Republicans blocked a critical measure that would have helped millions of families in California and nationwide. Not only did Republicans oppose this bill, they filibustered it – stopping us from even debating it.”  

“This is the latest in a long line of legislation to help middle-class families and the economy that has been blocked by Republicans, including equal pay legislation, a minimum wage hike, tax extenders, energy efficiency legislation and veterans legislation.”  

The Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act would have allowed Americans with outstanding student loan debt to refinance from high interest rates into much lower rates: 3.86 percent for undergraduate loans, 5.41 percent for graduate loans, and 6.41 percent for parents who borrowed to send their children to college.  

In California, 3.7 million people owe almost $100 billion in student loans. In 2012, the average California borrower owed $25,700 – a 65 percent increase from 2004. Many California borrowers with outstanding student loans have interest rates of nearly 7 percent or higher for undergraduate loans, while students taking out new undergraduate loans pay a rate of 3.86 percent under the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act passed by Congress last summer. 

On the Senate floor yesterday, Boxer told stories of how student loan debt is preventing many Californians from fully participating in the economy: 

Andrea from San Francisco says, “My boyfriend and I both have student debt. He started with 90K and has finally gotten it down to 50K after 10 years of paying. I recently finished my MFA and now have 56K in debt. This has kept us from saving for a house, purchasing a car, and doing things day to day that would boost the economy, like shopping and going out to eat.”  

Patrick from Thousand Oaks says, “I pay half of my monthly wages to cover the interest alone on my loan.”  

Stefanie from Pacific Grove says, “We are finally starting a family in our late 30s. My husband has been paying off his student loan for ten years. This loan will cost him twice as much as he borrowed to pay off, doubling the cost of his college education. That is simply not fair. If the fed sets interest rates low for everyone else, why not for students?” 

Video of Senator Boxer’s full speech can be found here.