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Courtney Releases Statement, Pens Op-Ed on Administration’s Failure to Protect Student Borrowers Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

March 17, 2020
Press Release

NORWICH, CT – Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) released the following statement regarding the U.S. Department of Education’s failure to look out for and protect student loan borrowers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. For years, Courtney has called on Secretary DeVos and the Department of Education to allow student loan borrowers to refinance their interest rates down to lower, market rate prices, and has introduced legislation with Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA) that would allow student borrowers to do just that. Now, amid the economic contraction surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Courtney has argued that it is more important than ever for the Department to find ways to help student borrowers by lowering monthly interest payments, in the same way that homeowners across the U.S. are refinancing home mortgage loans to take advantage of record low federal interest rates. 

President Trump initially signaled on Friday afternoon that the Department of Education would waive interest on federally held student loans. However, as reported last night by the New York Times, newly updated information by the Department of Education provides no pathway for student borrowers to refinance their loans, and would not lower monthly payments for borrowers.

“The Department of Education’s announcement last night that student loan borrowers are going to be forced to continue to pay existing monthly payments is hardly much help for people facing layoffs, reductions in hours, and loss of income amid the outbreak of COVID-19,” said Courtney. “By far, the better approach is to move swiftly to enact a law that will enable borrowers to refinance their student loans, just like homeowners are doing all across the country.” 

Today, the Connecticut Mirror published an op-ed penned by Rep. Courtney on the need for a permanent reduction in interest payments for student loan borrowers – not simply an interest payment holiday. In his piece, Courtney wrote: 

“There is something very wrong with this picture for student borrowers, given that the federal government is selling Treasury notes at record low rates—10-year yields have hovered around 1% for the past week—which has set off a stampede of refinancing for home mortgage loans. The Administration and Congress can and should do much more than a temporary student loan interest payment holiday, whose benefit will not materialize until years from now.” 

To read the full op-ed in the Connecticut Mirror, click here.