Washington, D.C. – In a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar today called on her colleagues in the Senate to take immediate action to pass legislation that would prevent student loan interest rates from doubling for an estimated 200,000 Minnesota students and millions of students nationwide in the 2012-2013 school year. On July 1, interest rates on federally subsidized Stafford student loans will double from 3.4% to 6.8%, costing Minnesota students hundreds of dollars in increased interest payments. Klobuchar is cosponsoring legislation, The Student Loan Affordability Act, which would prevent the rate hike and ensure that college remains affordable.

“Education is one of the best investments we can make in our nation’s long-term success – it not only benefits students by giving them a stepping stone to opportunity, it also benefits our country by creating a skilled workforce and a competitive economy. But I’ve heard from students across Minnesota who say the rising costs of higher education are putting a strain on their families and making college seem out of reach for young people, and burdening students with hundreds of dollars in additional debt is simply unacceptable,”Klobuchar said. “I urge my colleagues to take action and pass this legislation to block the rate hike and ensure college remains affordable for students in Minnesota and across the country so we can stay competitive in the global economy. Now is the time to come together and do what’s right for our students and our country.”

Subsidized Stafford loans are low-interest loans that help cover the cost of higher education for eligible students who are enrolled in schools participating in the Federal Family Education Loan Program or the Direct Loan Program.

Last week, Klobuchar met with students at the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State University Mankato to discuss the challenges they face paying for school as well as efforts to reduce this burden and keep college affordable. According to the Project on Student Debt, Minnesota ranks fourth in the nation for student loan debt.  On average, a Minnesota student graduates from college with more than $29,000 in loan debt.