The doors to college should be open for every student who wants to attend, but instead skyrocketing tuition costs will price millions of qualified young people out of an education in the next ten years. And students who don’t forgo college are taking on unprecedented levels of debt to pay for it. This college affordability crisis is about to get worse – on July 1, interest rates on college loans will go up. And Republican leaders have responded to all of this by cutting $12 billion out of the federal student aid programs. Democrats believe that making college affordable should be one of our nation’s highest priorities. We need a highly educated workforce to stay ahead of the global pack in competitiveness and innovation. Senator Durbin and I have introduced new legislation that would cut interest rates in half on new college loans for students and parents. If passed, our legislation would save the typical undergraduate student borrower – with $17,500 in debt – $5,600 over the life of his or her loan.

Over the past few months, House Democrats have heard from hundreds of students and families who are all struggling with crippling college costs. From California to Wisconsin to Vermont to Alabama, students ask why their Congress is not giving them a much-needed hand as they pursue a college education and their dreams. Their voices cannot be ignored. It is time for Congress to listen. Cutting interest rates on college loans will be a critical first step to making college more affordable for all Americans.