Good news: this week, senators will bring up the Bank On Students Act — a bill that would allow people who took out student loans before 2010 to refinance their interest rates to today’s lower rates. If it passes, millions of borrowers could save thousands of dollars in interest payments! Will you use this tool to send senators a message about what student loan refinancing would mean to you, and tweet with #myrefi? Meet just a few of the 25 million people who could refinance their loans:
I recently found out that my fiancé and I are expecting our first baby. What should be a happy time in my life has been hijacked by my crushing student loan debt. My private student loan through AES is charging me an excessive 10.18% interest rate. When I called AES, they said, “there is nothing we can do to help.” For my family’s future, I need the government to step in and act. If I could refinance my loans, I would save for a house, a car, maternity leave and child care for my baby.
My partner and I are hardworking and resourceful people. We’ve both been working since the age of 16. We were the first in our families to finish college and financed our own educations. We have no retirement fund, no savings, and we can’t afford our $1,300 monthly student loan payment, which is more than our rent. To make ends meet, we subsidize our monthly rent by helping the building owner with maintenance. We own one car, which we’ve paid off. We don’t use our credit cards. We cook at home most nights and can make better pizza than you can order out. We haven’t been on a real vacation in 6 years. We only buy our clothes when they are on sale and make our own Christmas gifts every year. If we could refinance our federal and private student loans, which have interest rates up to 8.25%, we would have greater financial security and could save to have children.
Mount Olive, North Carolina
I have both federal and private student loan debt. The interest rates on my private loans are through the roof. If I could refinance my loans and get a lower interest rate, I could actually pay on the principal of the loan instead of continually making monthly payments just to see the amount I owe stay stubbornly right around $53,900. Because of my high interest rates, it is literally going to take me 2 to 3 times what I took out in student loans in order to be able to pay them back. If we want young people to have a chance to get ahead, going to college has to be more affordable.
Tracy Jo I.
I was lucky enough to attend Western Kentucky University on a full tuition scholarship for undergrad, but I too am trapped from pursuing my dreams because of high interest rate student loan debt. For me, student loan refinancing would enable me to pursue a Masters degree, something I’m so passionate about attaining but currently can’t afford because of my $20,000 in undergraduate student loan debt. As a first generation college student and graduate, I care deeply about college access and we have to do better for this generation.
I just finished paying back medical loans I have been paying on since 2007, when I had my first of two open heart surgery procedures. As a consequence of my surgeries I had placed my student loans into forbearance for the 16 months I was out of school because I didn’t meet criteria for deferment. Between my interest rates bordering 10% and not making payments, that interest rate hit me where it hurt. Having moved to Georgia recently to start a new career, finding the money to finance a car or even to go out and meet people is stressful. I am stretched so thin financially by this debt. Even if I lived out my goal of paying these loans off in 4 years at my current rates, I would have to pay over $6,000 in interest payments alone. Living paycheck to paycheck, needless to say, means refinancing would be a good start in easing this stress.
Greensboro, North Carolina
I am not crying “poor me” or anything like that. I made my decisions and I own the responsibility for them. Whatever happens happens and I will work to honor my debt. However, it would help if the interest was lowered. Making only $14 an hour, I live hand-to-mouth. I don’t have money for emergencies like necessary car repairs or furniture for my unfurnished home. The only debt I have is my $49,000 in student loan debt, but it is holding me back, and my 6.8% interest rate loans are largely responsible.
Las Vegas, Nevada
I graduated from the University of Nevada. Post grad life means leaving behind student housing and classrooms, and searching for jobs and apartments. It means figuring out how to make payments on $40,000 of Federal Student Loans with high interest rates, afford the basic costs of living and somehow save up enough money for the costly dental school application process. Refinancing my loans at lower interest rate would mean that I could put this savings toward applying to dental schools. It would mean being able to start my career and ultimately pay off my loans sooner.
Student loan debt is a major barrier to my life and career aspirations. The ability to refinance my student loans would be a big help in making my dreams more attainable. If my loans could be refinanced, it could potentially save me thousands of dollars. This could be the difference in being able to buy my first home or get married. I want my elected officials to understand that not every person comes from a background of privilege. Many Americans come from families such as mine, where I was the first to graduate from college and had to fund my education through loans. My student debt is in the six figures with interest rates as high as 13%. Due to interest accruing while as a student, some of my loans have doubled or nearly doubled since I received them. I have done everything that I was told to do to be successful in life, but I am scared of not knowing how I will ever be able to pay off my loans and get ahead in life. Passing the Bank on Students bill would be a great first step in helping millions of Americans achieve their dreams and escape this burden.
Morgantown, West Virginia
I have about $70,000 in federal and private student loan debt. Because my private loans do not qualify for income-based repayment and my interest rates are around 8 percent, I currently am spending about 30% of my take-home pay on my monthly student loan payments. I have no problem paying back student loans, and I don’t feel that school should be free, but young people today are hurting. Higher tuition prices and less aid are piling mountains of debt on my generation. If I could refinance my loans and save by having lower interest rates, I would actually be able to pay down the balance of my loans.
If I had today’s 3.86% interest rate, I could repay all of my debt in a little over 10 years. It would take over 30 years with my current interest rates. To think that I have been out of college for 6 years and have only paid off $1,000 on what I originally borrowed literally brings me to tears. I want to pay these loans back. Trust me, I don’t want this debt. I want to buy a house one day. I want to have kids. But I don’t know how I can do these things with these high interest rate loans hanging over me. Refinancing this debt and knowing that there would be an end to it (unlike now with my interest-only payments and years of capitalized interest), would enable me to finally contribute to society the way I want to–the way my education prepared me to.
For more than a decade, I have paid about $100,000 on my $60,000 in 7.8% interest rate student loans. I still owe about $45,000. I’m a general education teacher and now work in higher education. It’s very hard for my family to be sacrificing $600 a month to make payments on these high interest rate loans. If my husband and I were not forever making payments on my loans, we could save more for retirement and keep other credit card payments down. It’s difficult to live without other debt when we’re paying so much each month for student loans.
Despite finishing school seven years ago, despite having Associates, Bachelors, and Doctoral degrees and a board certification, I struggle with my student loans. My debt is in the six figures with interest rates near 7%. If I could refinance my student loans, it would help me to save money to start a business that I desperately need to start because I cannot find a job that enables me to pay down my student loan debt. Like many young people, I have suffered from the Great Recession and its associated prolonged unemployment. The job market is so bad that I cannot find a job. For 4 years, I was completely unemployed, despite applying at several temp agencies, applying for cashier jobs at Target, Best Buy, Menard’s, and many others. Because I was unemployed for years, I have almost no retirement savings whatsoever. Being able to refinance would help me be able to save for retirement.