Congress may have a deal on extending the discounted interest rate on federal student loans, but there are a million people who want them to go further.
Robert Applebaum, a former assistant district attorney from New York, delivered 1 million signatures Thursday from his petition for Congress to pass H.R. 4170, the Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012, at the House side of the Capitol. He was joined by the bill’s author, Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-Mich.), Tony Mitchell, Jr., Congressional Liaison of the National Black Law Students Association, and Getachew Kassa, who is Legislative Director for the U.S. Student Association. About 20 students and college graduates and Occupy Collegesactivists also joined the group.
Their argument: forgiving student debt would fix the economy.
“Forgiving student loan debt would have an immediate stimulating effect on the economy,” Applebaum argued. “Responsible people who did nothing other than pursue a higher education would have hundreds, if not thousands of extra dollars per month to spend, fueling the economy now.”
H.R. 4170 would use a 10-10 standard; If a student has made payments equal to 10 percent of his discretionary income for 10 years, remaining federal student loan debt is forgiven. It also would’ve made the 3.4 percent reduced interest rate on subsidized federal student loans permanent. The deal Congress reached this week only lasts one year, and as such, Clarke criticized it as a “band aid.”
The petition to support it is being hosted online through a website run by MoveOn.org. The petition initially had smaller targets near 250,000, but ended up surpassing 1 million signatures earlier in June.
“More and more of us are struggling with debt we cannot pay within a reasonable amount of time,” Kassa said. “This has caused us to postpone continuing our education beyond a bachelor’s degree, buying a house and even getting married.”