A freshman Democrat from the Sunshine State has offered a proposal for student loan reform, insisting higher education debts are keeping people from obtaining the American Dream.
U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, D-Fla., brought out the “Student Opportunity Act” at the end of last month and showcased towards the end of last week.
Lawson’s proposal would allow for refinancing of all public and federal student loans that were established with high interest rates and first distributed before July 1, 2010. Under the legislation, all public, federal student loans would have interest rates at half a percentage point higher than the ten year treasury note interest rate. Lawson’s proposal would also cut out origination fees and provide tax relief to Americans who are repaying student loans.
On Thursday, Lawson made the case for his bill.
“Education is a fundamental facet of the American dream,” Lawson said. “Across the country, students attend colleges and universities with the hopes of climbing the economic ladder, providing for their families, and working to meet new challenges with ingenuity and expertise.
“Unfortunately, the cost of college has increased significantly in the last decade and for many Americans, this avenue to a brighter future has become unaffordable,” Lawson added. “Reducing student debt will help increase economic activity and provide our nation’s students with the relief and opportunity they deserve.”
Lawson has rounded up a dozen co-sponsors including fellow freshman U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla. The bill was sent to the House Education and the Workforce and the Ways and Means committees.
After two previous attempts, Lawson was elected to Congress last year, defeating longtime U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., in the primary. Before that, Lawson was a longtime state legislator, spending almost two decades in the Florida House before being elected to the state Senate in 2000. He was term limited out in 2010 when he first ran for Congress. Despite being a freshman, Lawson is the ranking Democrat on the House Small Business Committee’s Subcommittee on Health and Technology.