Durbin: A Fair Shot At An Affordable Education Has Become A Long Shot For Too Many

Discussed visits to Illinois State University and University of Illinois to meet with students struggling with debt

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) spoke on the Senate Floor to discuss America’s exploding student loan debt crisis and efforts that are underway to help ease this burden for working families and students. Today, he will join Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Al Franken (D-MN), and Jack Reed (D-RI) to introduce a bill based on the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act. That bill would allow those with outstanding student loan debt to refinance at the lower interest rates offered to new borrowers this past academic year. During his speech, Durbin mentioned visiting Illinois State University and the University of Illinois to talk with students about their problems paying back large amounts of student loan debt.

“I’ve heard from so many people in my state about this issue. They say student loan debt is preventing them from buying a car, having their own place to live, and even getting married and having children,” Durbin said. “I met Shiann Poshard last week at Illinois State University. She graduated with a teaching degree and about $30,000 in student debt. She got a job and will be teaching at public schools in Eureka, Illinois. But even so, on a first year teaching salary and with an upcoming wedding, her student loan debt will undoubtedly be a burden. If she’s allowed to refinance her loan, which she took out at 6.8 percent, she could cut her interest rate almost in half. That’ll make a big difference.” 

At University of Illinois he met with Mabinty Tarawallie, who together with her husband owe $150,000 in student loans. Durbin also mentioned meeting Shiann Poshard, a student at Illinois State University who recently graduated with about $30,000 in student loan debt. If either of these students were allowed to refinance their loans, it would cut their interest rates in half. 


Video of Durbin’s remarks is available here.


Audio of Durbin’s remarks is available here.


Footage of Durbin remarks is available for TV Stations using FTP in high definition here and in standard definition here


There are nearly 40 million Americans with outstanding student loans.  Many of these borrowers have interest rates of nearly 7 percent or higher for undergraduate loans, while students taking out new undergraduate loans this year borrowed at a rate of 3.86 percent under the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act brokered by Durbin and passed by Congress last summer. The Bank on Students Emergency Refinancing Act could lower payments for millions of those individuals by hundreds or thousands of dollars a year.


There are nearly 1.7 million Illinoisans with outstanding student loans.  The average student loan debt for Illinois students in the class of 2012 was $28,028.


Durbin, Warren, and Reed have been working together on efforts to build broad support in the Senate for legislative action to reduce new student loan debt and make it easier for millions of working families to manage the student loan debt they already have.  In addition to the Bank of Students Emergency Refinancing Act, the three introduced the Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights Act and the Protect Student Borrowers Act of 2013.  The Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights Act would ensure struggling student loan borrowers are treated fairly and understand the full range of repayment options and resources available to them. The Protect Student Borrowers Act of 2013 would help make institutions of higher education more accountable for student indebtedness by requiring institutions to assume some of the risk of a student loan default.