By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service
July 17, 2017
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- Americans have over $1.5 trillion in combined student loan debt - more than credit card and auto loan debt.
The average college graduate in Florida leaves school owing nearly $24,000. With interest rates at 4.75%, students are concerned over the amount of time it will take to pay the loans back.
Interest rates on federal student loans are fixed, so once accepted, students are locked into that rate, even if the rate drops in the future.
Florida Senator Bill Nelson has filed a bill in the U.S. Senate that would cap the federal student loan interest rate for undergraduate students at four percent.
Between 2006 and 2013, the rate was as high as 6.8 percent. Under current law, rates could rise up to 10 percent for undergraduates.
“They're putting off decisions about getting married, having a family, buying a home," Nelson said. "Some of them don't qualify for a mortgage because they've got so much student debt.”
Under the federal legislation, graduate student loan interest would be capped at five percent. Senator Nelson's proposal would also allow those with current interest rates higher than four percent to refinance their debt to a lower rate.
The United Faculty of Florida says the legislation is a good first step, and hopes to see similar efforts by the State Legislature to help make college more affordable for students.
The bill does not currently have a sponsor in the U.S. House of Representatives.