Student loan debt abounds for House freshmen

Several House lawmakers new to Capitol Hill have a common problem: student loans.

Both Democrats and Republicans in their first terms in the lower chamber disclosed student loans as liabilities on their 2012 financial disclosure reports, which were released on Friday.

Freshman Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) disclosed a $100,000 loan from the Education Department for a Cornell University MBA. The debt was incurred in December 2011, according to his report for last year.

Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) also listed a student loan valued at $15,000 as a liability for last year, which was first incurred in 2011.

Some of the student loan debt can stick with the freshman members for years.

Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-Texas), also new to Washington, disclosed holding student loans for law school worth at least $15,000. Castro first brought on the debt in 2000. Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind.) also has a student loan valued at least $15,000, which was first incurred in 1994.

Freshman lawmakers’ families also have student loan debt.

Rep. Joseph Kennedy's (D-Mass.) wife has three different student loans attributed to her, altogether worth at least $80,000 and all incurred in 2006. Rep. Grace Meng’s (D-N.Y.) spouse has a Sallie Mae student loan that was incurred in 2004 and is worth at least $100,000.

House members’ financial disclosure forms were released on Friday, detailing their assets and liabilities.

Student loans have become part of the political debate in Washington as President Obama and Republicans have battled over how to prevent a looming hike in interest rates.

Last week, the Senate failed to pass both Democratic and Republican proposals to prevent the rate hike. In May, the House passed legislation to deal with the issue, but that bill has been blasted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday said the two parties aren’t that far apart on the issue and said Democrats are picking a “fake fight” in a deliberate attempt to let rates rise.

Unless Congress acts, interest rates on student loans will double in July from 3.4 to 6.8 percent.