Senator Heitkamp believes we need to give our kids the opportunities to succeed starting at a young age and continue those opportunities and resources as they get older. That means boosting early childhood education and investing in Head Start programs for families struggling to get by. It means helping students do their best in school all the way through high school and college. And it means enabling students to afford to go college and not get bogged down in loans they won’t ever be able to pay off.
Championing the Importance of Investing in Early Childhood Education
Senator Heitkamp has fought for funding for early childhood education programs, so children can get the education they deserve starting at a young age. During an address to the North Dakota Head Start Association Conference, Senator Heitkamp vouched for the effectiveness of Head Start and committed to pushing for more resources for early childhood education programs.
Finding Ways to Keep College Affordable
Senator Heitkamp has held a number of student loan roundtables across North Dakota with students, parents, and college administrators to discuss college affordability. Heitkamp understands that the issue of mounting student loan debt not only affects students and graduates, but that it is a drain on the entire economy.
In 2012, outstanding student loan debt reached more than $1 trillion and 81% of the undergraduates with high student debt had private loans. This excessive student loan debt dampens home purchases, slows small business startups, diverts retirement savings, and limits opportunities for economic expansion in rural communities. Private loans typically have higher interest rates – that can top 18% – and are more difficult to refinance and offer fewer payment options than loans administered by the U.S. Department of Education.
Jumpstarting the Private Student Loan Refinancing Market
Senator Heitkamp introduced a bill which would allow students with private loans to take advantage of the current low interest rates by restructuring and refinancing their private loans. She has heard countless students say they are trapped because of an overwhelming amount of private student loan debt, putting a drain on them and our economy. Limited opportunities to refinance trap private loan borrowers in high-interest loans, putting them at risk of default and jeopardizing their economic future. With interest rates at record lows, there is opportunity to help private student loan borrowers to refinance under the right conditions.
Securing Affordable Rates for Federal Student Loans
Senator Heitkamp supported a bill that allows students to take advantage of historically low interest rates, locks in the rates for the life of the loan, and caps future rates. Instead of kicking the can down the road, Senator Heitkamp was part of a long-term solution that provides students and parents with certainty there will be access to affordable financing options.