Durbin: GOP Has Chosen To Protect As Few As 22,000 Millionaires Over 25 Million Student Borrowers

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Opposition to helping millions of Americans have a fair shot at an affordable college education is unacceptable and wrong, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said today during a press conference with Senate Democratic Leadership following a 56 to 38 procedural vote on the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act.  A 60 vote threshold was needed in order to open debate on the Senate Floor. The bill, which Durbin co-sponsored, would allow those with outstanding student loan debt to refinance at the lower interest rates currently offered to new borrowers. The bill could have helped over one million Illinois borrowers refinance their loans.


“Today, Senate Republicans blocked a bill to help 25 million student borrowers refinance their student loans at lower interest rates. In doing so, they sent an important message to the American people – that Senate Republicans would rather protect as few as 22,000 millionaires from paying a penny more in taxes than throw a lifeline to 25 million working Americans drowning in student debt simply because they did the right thing and sought a college education,” Durbin said. “I can tell you personally, I’m not going to give up this fight despite today’s setback. America demands better of this Senate than it saw today and families demand a fair shot at getting ahead. Our future depends on it.”

In 2009, 22,000 households made more than $1 million and paid less than a 15% effective tax rate. There are nearly 40 million Americans with outstanding student loans, nearly 1.7 million in Illinois. The average student loan debt for Illinois students in the class of 2012 was $28,028.  Many of these borrowers have interest rates of nearly 7 percent or higher for undergraduate loans. The Bank on Students Emergency Refinancing Act would save the average borrower $2,000 over the life of their loan. 


Durbin, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Jack Reed (D-RI) 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.