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San Francisco, CA – As the Senate debates student loan reform, congregations across California are calling on Congress to make college more affordable. Congregations, including St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Calistoga, Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer in Oxnard, Nevada City United Methodist Church in Nevada City, Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Encinitas, Arlington Community Church - United Church of Christ in Kensington, and Moravian Church in Downey, are circulating petitions and mobilizing their members to urge Congress to stop the student loan interest rate from rising. They will also hold a prayer for student loan relief during their services this Sunday.
“We can’t burden tomorrow’s leaders with unsustainable debts. Our faith teaches us that we have a responsibility to ensure that all of us are able to reach our full potential - from one generation to the next,” said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA, a network of dozens of religious denominations and faith communities tackling unjust debt.
“In today’s economy, students need a college education to get ahead,” said Emily Rusch, State Director for CALPIRG. “Doubling the interest rate for student loans would make this goal harder to achieve for thousands of Californians.”
The interest rate for student loans is scheduled to double from 3.4% to 6.8% on July 1st, unless Congress intervenes to extend the low current rate. The new rate would affect federally subsidized Stafford loans, which are provided to almost 7.5 million low and moderate-income students nationwide each year.
The average student borrower already graduates with over $25,000 in student loans. On average, the doubling of the interest rate would add approximately $1,000 in debt for every year a student takes out a loan, adding up to more than $4,000 over a four-year education.
To stave off the rate hike, Congress needs to act by July 1st to maintain the existing interest rate. The United States Senate is expected to vote on this issue within the next few days.
“Student debt can change the shape of a young person’s life,” said Pastor Bill Harman, Retired Pastor from Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Encinitas. “When students graduate with high levels of student debt, it can force them to postpone major life events like marriage and parenthood. High student loans can also be a barrier to students of all faiths who are considering attending theology school and serving their faith community. It’s important to minimize that debt, including keeping interest rates low, in order to reduce the impact it has on the lives of our graduates.”
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CALPIRG, the California Public Interest Research Group, is a statewide, non-partisan public interest organization funded by members.
Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 religious denominations and faith communities, human rights, environmental, labor, and community groups working for the definitive cancellation of crushing debts to fight poverty and injustice in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
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