KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Debt from student loans are a hot topic on the presidential campaign trail and Tuesday, Michigan U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow announced a plan to ease the student load debt burden.
Stabenow (D) announced "In The Red" to students and faculty at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo Tuesday morning.
"As far as I'm concerned one of the core issues right now for us is people being able to afford to go to college because its about opportunity," said Stabenow. "It's about getting the skills so you can go out and get the job that you want, start your own business, and not come out with mounds of debt, which is exactly what's happening to students right now."
She laid out a three-step plan to reduce debt which includes loan refinancing and creating new state and federal partnerships to make community college free. Stabenow says that student loan debt totals over $1.3 trillion nationally and says it mostly due to high interest rates.
"We’re getting to a point now where it's just absolutely intolerable," said Stabenow. "When I’m talking to Michigan realtors and they’re talking about student loan debt because young couples coming out of college want to buy a house and they can’t qualify them for a house, this reaches around in the economy, where it’s touching everything. So its just wrong."
Stabenow is looking to scale back the high interest rates to levels they were decades ago. When she was at Michigan State University, the government paid 70 percent of college tuition costs. Now, it's 20 percent.
"And then we wonder why all of that costs has gone on the backs of students," said Stabenow. "It's just wrong and we need to say that education is about investing not only in individuals but in our way of life, in our economy and if we’re going to have a strong middle-class people have got to be able to afford to go to college."