Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter voted today to save college students in New Hampshire and across the country thousands of dollars in interest payments on need-based student loans. The legislation, named the College Student Relief Act of 2007 (H.R. 5), passedthe House of Representatives by a vote of 356 to 71.
There was an audible shout from the House floor when the final vote was tallied. With such a large percentage of House members voting for the bill, the legislation is veto proof.
"I've always said that education is the key to prosperity," said Shea-Porter. "And this will make a college education more affordable. This really is a victory for the middle-class."
The bill will cut the interest rates on subsidized student loans for undergraduates from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent. An average student borrower has $13,800 in subsidized federal student loan debt. Under the new bill, he or she would save approximately $4,400 over the life of the loan.
Democratic leaders presented the bill as the first step in a wider effort to help students and to make college more affordable.
The legislation is part of the First 100 Hours agenda which the Democratic majority has put before the new Congress. Thus far, Democrats in Congress have successfully passed bills to increase the minimum wage, strengthen ethics rules, implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations, require the federal government to negotiate lower prices for the Medicare prescription drug program, and to promote stem cell research. Congresswoman Shea-Porter has been a co-sponsor of each of these bills.
Tomorrow, the House will debate a bill to repeal subsidies to oil companies and to invest the savings in renewable energy.
The College Relief Act received bipartisan support in the 110thCongress -- 231 Democrats voted for it and none voted against. 124 Republicans voted with the majority.