The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Support S.953 – An Amendment to the Farm Bill Keep College Affordable for All Students Maintain Low, Fixed Student Loan Interest Rates

Advocacy Letter - 05/22/13

Source: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Recipient: U.S. Senate

Dear Senator:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of over 210 national organizations charged with the promotion and protection of the rights of all persons in the United States, we write to urge you to support S. 953, the Student Loan Affordability Act of 2013, which will ensure that all students have access to college by keeping student loan interest rates low. Ensuring affordable access to postsecondary education is essential to overcoming our persistently high unemployment rates and ensuring graduates can successfully enter an increasingly competitive workforce.

The Leadership Conference believes Congress must enact and fund programs that ensure that all Americans have access to affordable postsecondary education. S. 953 will keep college affordable by maintaining the current 3.4 percent interest rate on subsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans for two years by closing tax loopholes for the oil industry, non-U.S. companies, and in the distribution of tax-deferred accounts. We support S. 953 because it protects students and is a sensible and workable interim measure as Congress begins to tackle the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act later this year and consider a comprehensive overhaul of federal student aid programs.

Education has been our country’s “great equalizer,” but it is no longer possible to achieve the American Dream of economic stability and prosperity without at least some postsecondary education. Ensuring affordability is particularly important to the communities we represent, including low-income students, students of color, nontraditional students, single parents and veterans, who often experience significant economic barriers to college access and completion.i For example: Two-thirds of students who graduate with a four-year degree have more than $25,000 in loan debt.ii

Lower-middle-income families with incomes between $40,000 and $59,000 borrowed $12,000 more in 2010 than families with incomes greater than $100,000.iii In 2007-2008, 81 percent of African American students and 67 percent of Latino students who earned bachelor’s degrees graduated with debt compared with 64 percent of white students.iv Due to persistent gender-based pay gaps, women have a disproportionately high student loan debt burden.v

The Leadership Conference strongly supports measures to expand college access and to mitigate the burden of student loan debt; therefore, we urge you to support S. 953. Thank you for your consideration. If you have any questions, please contact Max Marchitello, William Taylor Fellow, at Marchitello@civilrights.org, or 202-263-2860.


Wade Henderson
President and CEO

Nancy Zirkin
Executive Vice President

i. Anne Johnson, Tobin Van Ostern, Abraham White. The Student Debt Crisis. Campus Progress, Center for American Progress. October 25, 2012.

ii. David Madland, “Making Our Middle Class Stronger: 35 Policies to Revitalize America’s Middle Class” (Washington: Center for American Progress, 2012).

iii. Radhika Singh Miller, “Pervasive Student Debt Penetrates Middle Class,” U.S. News & World Report, September 19, 2012.

iv. Sandy Baum and Patricia Steele, “Who Borrows Most? Bachelor’s Degree Recipients with High Levels of Student Debt,” College Board, 2010.

v. Chistianne Corbett, Catherine Hill, American Association of University Women. Graduating to a Pay Gap: The Earnings of Women and Men One Year after College Graduation. October 2012.

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