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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) today called for Congress to extend the reduced student loan interest rate in an economically responsible way while pursuing policies that create job opportunities for graduates.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Boozman said he supports a proposal that pays for a one-year extension of the reduced interest rate on Stafford Student Loans by tapping funds from an unused account created by President Obama’s health care law.

“Higher tuition puts the dream of college out of reach for many young Americans.  This is why the Stafford Student Loan program is so important. Loans help students overcome obstacles they face when it comes to accessing a quality, affordable education,” Boozman said.  “We’ve got to fix this issue with the interest rate increases before July 1st.  These interest rates should not be allowed to double.” 

Watch a video of Boozman’s speech

Boozman said the Senate was right to reject the Majority’s proposal that raised taxes to pay for an extension because that will make even harder for graduates to find jobs in this struggling economy.

“Student loans are supposed to increase access to college. By helping millions of Americans earn a college degree, the student loan program should be a gateway to the workforce, not a barrier.  Any extension of the low rate loans paid for by tax increases is simply that—a barrier because tax increases stifle job creation,” Boozman said. “Let’s fix this problem without making our economic situation worse and get America working again.”

Boozman encouraged his colleagues to work toward addressing the lack of jobs for young Americans, noting lower loan rates are not a substitute for job opportunities that college graduates desperately need.

“For our graduates, it doesn’t matter where you get your degree from if there are no jobs to be had once you have a diploma in your hand. And that is the problem with the job market our young people are graduating into today,” Boozman said.

Boozman said that America has the lowest employment-to-population ratio for young adults since 1948. Over half of Americans under 25 who hold a bachelor’s degree are unemployed or underemployed and nearly 25 million adults live at home with their parents, not out of choice, but because they can’t find work or earn enough to survive on their own.

“Any way you cut it, college graduates ready to chase the American dream have a huge roadblock awaiting them in this economy,” Boozman said. “We have to stop this trend. We’ve got to work together to do this. While giving Arkansas's students access to the very best education possible at an affordable rate, we must also work to ensure that there is a healthy job market waiting for them after graduation.”