Higher education is the single best investment our young people can make in themselves. Higher education is the single best investment families can make in the success of their children. Higher education is the single best investment our nation can make in its future. Yet financial barriers will prevent 4.4 million high school graduates from attending a four-year public college over the next decade, while 2 million high school graduates will attend no college at all. Yesterday, I was pleased to join several of my House Democratic colleagues and young Americans from across the country who shared their stories and called for Congress to reverse the raid on student aid.

While it was inspiring to see so many young people with so much potential, it was also heart-wrenching to know many of them will be saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. One young man, a student at American University and the son of a public school teacher and a painter, shared that he would be shouldering some $40,000 in debt when he graduates. Nationwide, the typical college student graduates with $17,500 in college debt, a chilling discouragement to the young Americans who would be the future leaders, thinkers and innovators of our nation.

At a time when we should be investing in America's college students and high school seniors, we are going in the wrong direction. On July 1, the interest rates on outstanding federal student loans are going to rise to 7.14 percent-the highest rate in six years-and the rate on outstanding federal parent loans will rise to 7.94 percent. College students and their parents should seriously consider consolidating their loans before June 30th. House Democrats have a New Direction for America that includes a plan to cut student loan interest rates in half. But until we can pass legislation that will reduce the burden on our young people, America's working families remain at the mercy of the student loan industry and their Republican allies here in Congress.

To see how much you would save under the Democratic plan, click here http://edworkforce.house.gov/democrats/calculator.html