I am writing as your constituent in the 2nd Congressional district of California. I support H.R.4170 - Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012, and am tracking it using OpenCongress.org, the free public resource website for government transparency and accountability.
Right now past, current and future students are drowning under student loan debt. I attended Gonzaga University School of Law from 2006 to 2009 in hopes of finding a good job, becoming a productive citizen and creating a better life for me and my family. Three years of law school put me in approximately $150,000 of student loan debt. The tuition is out of control and the job market is so poor it is nearly impossible to pay off the debt.
I make less than $50,000 working as an attorney and have over $150,000 in student loan debt from my 3 years in law school. I am also drowning under additional debt from being unemployed nearly a year while trying to find a job as an attorney. My student loan payment under the current IBR plan is $177. Yet my interest at 6 to 8.5% charges me approximately $1000.
What this means is every single month I make a payment of $177 toward my student loan and every single month my student loan balance INCREASES by about $800. After one year, my loan will have increased nearly $10,000. This is unacceptable. The interest rates, the tuition that is being charged, and the inability to every pay off these exorbitant student loans has created a dire situation for me. I have no idea how I will ever afford a house or other large purchases. I now make about $50,000. This means my student loan payment will be increasing to approximately $400. The higher my income, the more my payment will be.
The only way I will be able to get out from under these crushing loans, purchase a house, or move on with my life is if H.R. 4170 is passed. At least there would be an end in sight. 10 years from now I would have the option of having a real life. I would be able to invest money, purchase a house, have discretionary income. As it stands I will never be able to pay off my student loans. Therefore, I would be struggling for 25 years under the current IBR program, until the loans are forgiven. I will be 52 years old by the time this occurs. My life will be more than half way over before I will have an opportunity at living a normal life. This is a steep price to pay for 3 years of education. Education that has a very depressed value given the current status of the economy and job market.
The past, current and future students of the USA need help. We need a change. This is the help we have been praying for. Please support H.R. 4170.
Sincerely, Estee Lewis
Dear Ms. Lewis:
Thank you for taking the time to write and share your views with me. Your comments will help me continue to represent you and other Californians to the best of my ability. Be assured that I will keep your views in mind as the Senate considers legislation on this or similar issues.
If you would like additional information about my work in the U.S. Senate, I invite you to visit my website, http://boxer.senate.gov. From this site, you can send a message to me about current events or pending legislation, access my statements and press releases, request copies of legislation and government reports, and receive detailed information about the many services that I am privileged to provide for my constituents. You may also wish to visit http://thomas.loc.gov to track current and past federal legislation.
Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. I appreciate hearing from you.
United States Senator
Please do not respond to this message. If you would like to comment on legislation, please visit my website and use the correspondence form at https://www.boxer.senate.gov/en/contact/policycomments.cfm.
Dear Ms. Lewis:
I received your letter expressing your support for student loan forgiveness. I appreciate the time you took to write and welcome the opportunity to respond.
On March 3, 2012, Representative Hansen Clarke (D-MI) introduced the "Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012" (H.R. 4170), which would allow forgiveness of eligible federal student loans for borrowers who have, for ten years, made payments equal to ten percent of their discretionary income. This legislation would also allow borrowers whose student loans exceed their income to convert their private student loans into Federal Direct loans.
In addition, H.R. 4170 would cap interest rates on federal student loans at 3.4%. H.R. 4170 would also allow borrowers who enter public service to have their student loans forgiven after five years of continuous payment, rather than after 120 payments or 10 years as legislated under current law. H.R. 4170 is currently pending in the House of Representatives.
Like you, I recognize that with the rising cost of education, repaying student loans is becoming more burdensome for recent graduates. You may be pleased to know that I voted for, and the Senate passed, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, which includes a provision that maintains the 3.4% interest rate on federal student loans for an additional year. It was signed into law by the President.
In addition, assistance is available for borrowers who are having difficulty paying back their student loans. Eligible borrowers may participate in the Income Based Repayment (IBR) option, which allows individuals to adjust their monthly payments based on their income. In order to qualify for this plan, borrowers' student loan debt must be high relative to their income and family size. Eligibility is ultimately determined by lenders.
It is important to note that if you do not qualify to participate in the IBR repayment plan or loan forgiveness, you may still apply for deferred payments on your federal student loans or for forbearance if you are experiencing economic hardship. More information about managing your federal student loans and instructions on how to apply for the Income Based Repayment plan can be found on the Federal Student Aid website at http://studentaid.ed.gov.
Be assured that I have noted your support for student loan forgiveness, and I will keep your comments in mind should H.R. 4170 come to the Senate floor for consideration.
Again, thank you for writing. If you have any additional questions or comments, please feel free to contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841. Best regards.
Dianne Feinstein United States Senator
Further information about my position on issues of concern to California
and the nation are available at my website, Feinstein.senate.gov
Note to Congressional staff & elected officials reading this: this letter was sent through Contact-Congress features on OpenCongress.org, a free public resource website, but in the future we seek to compel the U.S. Congress to adopt fully open technology for constituent communications. For more information how your office can better handle public feedback through an open API and open standards, contact us -- even today, there are significantly more efficient and responsive ways for our elected officials to receive email feedback than the status quo of individual webforms. For greater public accountability in government, we must make the process of writing one's members of Congress more accessible and empowering. Looking ahead, we will release more data from Contact-Congress letters and Congressional response rates back into the public commons. This will result in a new open data source on bills & issues people care about, as well as encourage best practices in constituent communications and make it possible to grade members of Congress on their responsiveness & citizen satisfaction.