Stabenow talks debt-free college plan

Posted at 6:28 PM, Feb 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-17 09:08:44-05

An effort to stop college students from going "into the red."

"We're creating a situation where people feel like even though they're working hard and they're doing what everybody else told them to do - go to college, get a degree, get skills - that somehow at the end of it, they're being penalized because of the amount of debt that they're having to incur," explained U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow.

She's helping introduce legislation in Congress that will allow borrowers to refinance loans at lower rates. That means for undergraduates, rates of 3.86%, 5.4% for graduate students and 6.4% for parents.

It'll also make two years of community college free and raise assistance through Pell Grants.

"We're not gonna be able to provide economic opportunity for young people if they're walking out of college with mounds of debt. So, enough is enough, we need to bring the cost down," she said.

It's an effort MSU Junior Dan Eggerding appreciates.

After starting at community college before becoming a Spartan, he's still tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

"I use FAFSA to help me out, get some free tuition, get some scholarships, some un-subsidized loans, subsidized loans and some grants and stuff that I'm eligible for," he explained. "It's very overwhelming."

At MSU, 45% of students borrow money and typically leave the University $26,000 in debt.

The Financial Aid Office told News Ten they work closely with students on a payment plan.

Chandra Owen of the MSU Financial Aid Office explained, "Students will always start on the standard ten year. And if you can do it, that's the way to go. If they have any economic hardship or something that comes up along the way, income based repayments are great."

But, Owens warns the longer you stretch out your payment, the more interest you'll be paying off in the long run.

That's the digging out Senator Stabenow is hoping to prevent.

She said the RED Act will be introduced in Congress within the next two weeks.

The rising cost of tuition is also a top issue in the Presidential race. Monday during his speech at Eastern Michigan University, Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders spoke about his plan to make college free for everyone.