Sen. Klobuchar started the hearing by laying out the reasons why student loan debt is such a growing crisis. The average student has $30,000 in debt when they graduate, and nationally borrowers hold more than $1.3 trillion in debt.
She also welcomed experts on student loan debt and recent college graduates to speak on the topic.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren spoke next, reminding folks that barely a generation ago, debt-free college was a real option for millions of students.
Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Rohit Chopra told the committee that for too many students, their student loan debt obstructs the American dream. Many student debtors, said Chopra, feel like they’re climbing an escalator but going in the wrong direction.
University of Minnesota 2015 graduate Annie Wood’s parents are both Minneapolis public school teachers. Annie claimed she chose the U because it’s a great school and that it was her lowest cost option. She worked all four years of college, including work study and summer jobs, but still has $50,000 in debt.
Annie’s interest rates range from 6.5% to a staggering 9.8%. Enrolling in public service loan forgiveness will lower Annie’s payment from over $600 to $460, but she will also need a part-time job to pay for her additional living and other expenses.
I don’t see a period of financial stability in my life in the foreseeable future.
Other speakers echoed Chopra and Wood’s statements.
Closing the hearing, Sen. Klobuchar thanked the guests for their comments, saying:
If we can’t understand the situations of the people that we represent, we shouldn’t be here.”
Watch the whole hearing here:
Student loan debt and college affordability are some of the biggest issues facing our nation, as Sen. Klobuchar said. Hopefully these personal stories will help Sens. Klobuchar, Warren and Baldwin as they continue to work on solutions to this growing crisis.