I'm calling their bluff

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The excuses have started. Once again, the Republicans blocked a vote on our student loans bill – and now that they are about to head home to face voters, they are pouring out the excuses.

Excuse #1:  Some Republicans say that the benefit of letting people refinance their student loans is too small. Too small? Tell that to young people with 8%, 10%, even 12% interest rates (and higher on some of the private loans). They could save hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars on their excessive student loan payments each year.

But if the Republicans really think the benefit of the bill is too small, I'll call their bluff. I'm all for finding ways to give our students an even bigger break.

Excuse #2:  Some Republicans say that the $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loan debt just isn't a big deal – that we should be focused on the rising costs of college instead. Yes, the rising cost of college is a terrible problem – and we need to stop it – but that doesn't mean we shouldn't do anything for the millions of people who already went to school and are being crushed by debt.

But if the Republicans really want to do more, I'll call their bluff. Let's work together to do even more to help our students. I'm ready.

Excuse #3:  Some Republicans don't like that the bill is paid for by closing the tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires and making them pay their fair share.

But if the Republicans' only problem with the bill is how it's paid for, I'll call their bluff. If they have ideas on other ways to pay for it, we're eager to listen.

Excuse #4:  Some Republicans – including Mitch McConnell – went so far as to say that Democrats don't really want this bill to pass. Really? That's just plain ridiculous. Only in Washington can you vote against something, and then when it doesn't pass, blame the people who voted for it.

Excuses. Excuses. But they don't fool anyone. They don't fool each of you who signed our petitions, made phone calls, posted on Facebook and tweeted asking for a vote.

This isn't complicated. It's a choice – a choice that raises a fundamental question about who the United States Senate works for. Does it work for those who can hire armies of lawyers and lobbyists to protect tax loopholes for billionaires and profits for the big banks? Or does it work for those who work hard, play by the rules, and are trying to build a future for themselves and their families?

This fight isn't over. Millions of Americans are getting crushed in student loan debt, while the rich and powerful hang on tight to their tax loopholes. When the choice is between billionaires and students, I know which side I'm on, and I'm going to keep hitting back.

Bank on Students

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Last year, we fought to lower the interest rates on student loans – and nearly all the Republicans in Washington agreed with us that rates were far too high.

So Congress lowered the rates for new borrowers this year – not as much as we would have liked, but some. But Congress did nothing for the millions of people stuck with older high interest rate loans.

Today, I'm introducing the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, and the idea is so popular that it already has 23 co-sponsors. The bill lets qualified borrowers refinance their existing student loan debt to the same lower prices that Congress agreed upon for new students this year.

Sign up now to show your support for the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act.

Student loan debt is exploding. Outstanding student loans now total more than $1.2 trillion – and each year, students are taking on more and more and more. In 2012, an astonishing 71% of college seniors owed student loans, and, from 2004 to 2012, the average student loan balance increased by 70%.

Now, millions of young people are struggling to keep up with their student loan payments. Everywhere I go, I meet young people who worked hard, played by the rules, and got an education – only to be crushed with student loan debt.

The economic impact is real. Federal watchdog agencies like the Federal Reserve, the Treasury Department, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are already sounding the alarm. Every day, this exploding debt stops more and more young people from moving out of their parents' homes, from saving for a down payment, buying homes, buying cars, starting small businesses, saving for retirement, or making purchases that grow our economy.

Forty million Americans have outstanding student loans. The Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act will save millions of these young people hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year, putting real money back into their pockets. The sooner we pass refinancing legislation, the sooner they'll get a little bit of relief.   

Tell Congress to give a much-needed break to young people struggling to build a future. Join us in support of the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act.

They did everything we told them to do

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Last year, you and I fought to lower the interest rate on new federally subsidized student loans.

During that fight, I also heard from a lot of young people being crushed by their old student loans. They did everything we told them to do: They worked hard, got good grades, went to college and learned new skills -- and now are drowning in debt.

The numbers prove it. More than a third of borrowers under the age of 30 have been delinquent on their student loan payments for more than 90 days. Think about that.

Tying students to a lifetime of financial servitude as a condition of getting an education? That doesn't reflect our values.

In the coming weeks, I'll introduce new legislation to allow eligible borrowers with high interest student loans to refinance at new rates that are at least as low as those now being offered to new borrowers in the federal student loan program -- putting real money back into the pockets of young people who worked hard to get an education.

We know from the last student loan fight that we have an uphill battle ahead of us -- and I'm going to need your help, and the help of tens of thousands of people all across the country, to make the case for why this is so important.

Sign up now to show your support for refinancing student loans -- and share your own student loan story if you have one.

The idea is pretty simple. When interest rates are low, homeowners can refinance their mortgages. Big corporations can swap more expensive debt for cheaper debt. Even state and local governments have refinanced their debts.

Letting recent graduates refinance their student loans puts real money back in the pockets of middle class families. Real money that will help young people find a little more financial stability as they work to build their futures. Real money that says America invests in those who work to get an education.

Real money for people like you, your kids or your grandkids.

As we introduce this bill in the coming weeks, I'll need your help to speak out and say why refinancing student loans is important to you. Sign up now and share your story.

Refinancing student loans won't fix everything that's broken in the higher education system -- but for many of our graduates, it is an important step forward.

I'm in this fight for the long haul

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We won't win every fight -- at least, not the first time out.

This week, the Senate passed a student loans bill that asks tomorrow's students to pay drastically higher interest rates to finance lower rates today.

The vote may be over, but our fight to make college more affordable -- and the fight for a better deal for our students -- is just getting started.

In May, I introduced the Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act to give students the same low interest rates that the big banks get. If those 0.75% rate is good enough for the big banks, it's good enough for our kids who are trying to get an education. And as long as the government continues to make hundreds of billions in profits off our students, I'll keep fighting.

In the long term, we need to do three things:

  • First, we must eliminate government profits from student loan programs -- period.
  • Second, we must refinance existing student debt to reduce the profits that are crushing our young people and dragging down our economy.
  • And third, we must reduce college costs so that American families can send their kids to school without mortgaging their futures and burying themselves in debt.

I'm in this fight for the long haul, and I'll keep working to attack these problems head-on and find solutions that will provide a real shot at an education for all of our students.

Thank you for being a part of this -- for the long haul.

The whole system stinks

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I’ve spent years fighting back against credit card companies that put out zero-interest teaser rate cards, planning to jack up the price later and make all their profits in the fine print.

I also fought back against teaser rate mortgages that promised low payments in the first few years, but then shot up to rates that pushed millions of families into foreclosure.

So it’s shocking to me that the United States Senate would offer its own teaser rate for our student loan system -- a system that is scheduled to make more than $184 billion in profits over the next ten years. That's not the business the United States government should be in.

Speak out right now to make sure the Senate doesn't pass a deal that would let federal student loans go even higher than their current 6.8% rate.

We had a majority in the Senate to keep student interest rates low, but because of Republican filibusters, the interest rate on federally subsidized student loans jumped from 3.4% to 6.8% on July 1st. Instead of restoring that 3.4% rate, a new so-called "compromise" plan on the table raises the interest rate on those loans this year to 3.86% for undergraduate students, and 5.41% for graduate students in 2013.

And then it gets worse. The plan is set up to collect higher interest rates in future years. After just 24 months, the rate jumps above 6.8% for graduate students. Within a few years, rates for all loans will be higher than if Congress does nothing -- and some could climb as high as 10.5%. Even worse, with the federal government already making billions in profits off these programs, the "compromise" plan is set up to actually increase those profits by hundreds of millions of dollars more.

I can't support a proposal that squeezes even more profits out of our kids, while millionaires and billionaires still don't pay their fair share. This is a bad deal.

Senator Jack Reed has offered an amendment that is a true compromise: let rates move with the market, but set a cap on student loan interest rates at their current rates. I am proud to cosponsor that amendment. It's the only way to ensure that students don't end up paying more than they would if Congress does nothing.

The Senate will vote on the compromise bill as early as today. Please speak out now and demand support for Senator Reed's student loan amendment.

In the end, this is a simple math problem.

If Republicans insist that we continue to make the same $184 billion in profit off of the student loan program, that just means that students in future years will have to pay higher rates to make up the difference.

I don't believe in pitting our kids against each other. In fact, I think this whole system stinks.

We should not go along with any plan that demands that our students continue to produce huge profits for our government. Making billions and billions in profits off the backs of students is obscene.

Senator Jack Reed's amendment is the only plan on the table right now that guarantees student loan interest rates won't skyrocket above their current levels. We need to pass this amendment for our kids and grandkids.

Sign up now to support Senator Reed's amendment.

I appreciate the hard work that my colleagues have done to try to defeat the Republican filibuster so that we can keep student loan rates low.

But our students are drowning under a trillion dollars in student loan debt. We need to start now with one basic principle: cut government profits on student loans. I can't support a deal that actually increases those profits.

We can't do this to our kids

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The government will make $51 billion in profit off of federal student loans this year.

That's five times the money Google made in profit in 2012. In fact, it's more than any Fortune 500 company made last year.

It's obscene. Our government should help students who are trying to get an education, not figure out ways to squeeze more money out of them.

This week, the Senate will be voting one more time on a bill to freeze the interest rate on new Stafford student loans at 3.4% while Congress works out a long-term student debt solution. A majority of senators support the bill, but so far, the Senate Republicans have blocked an up-or-down vote.

I have been speaking out on this issue, and I'm writing today to ask you to join me. Tell the Senate to stop playing politics with our kids' futures and to give the student loan bill an up-or-down vote.

Students owe more than $1 trillion in student loan debt – more than all the credit card debt in the entire country.

But they didn't go on a shopping spree at the mall -- they did exactly what we told them to do. They worked hard, they played by the rules, and they got an education.

Too many of those kids must delay buying a home because they can't save for a down payment. They delay starting a small business because they can't get a loan. They delay putting anything away for their retirement because their exploding student loan debt is making it impossible for them to save. They delay their start on life -- and all the while, the government rakes in more and more profits.

I was ashamed when the interest rate on student loans doubled last week. Not just as a United States Senator, but as a teacher, a mother, and a grandmother.  We should do better for our students.

Students don't have an army of lobbyists demanding a better deal. They don't have millions of dollars for a splashy public relations campaign to shame our elected officials and to get the media's attention.

It's going to take all of us working together -- people all across the country saying, "We can't do this to our kids." And that starts with you, right now.

Tell the Senate: Give the student loan bill an up-or-down vote.

Thank you, and keep fighting!

New TV Ad: Crushed

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America ought to be investing in education and building a future for our kids. Take a look at our new TV ad.