Sen. Warren Asks REALTORS®’ Help on Student Debt

May 13, 2016

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) went before REATORS® Thursday morning to ask for their support on a bill that would help ease a growing burden on the economy and on young Americans particularly: crushing student debt.

“If you want to see more young people live the dream of home ownership . . . and end the absurdity of the government making profits off the backs of young people . . . I am asking you to support this bill,” said Warren, a member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee.

Warren is seeking passage of “The Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act,” S. 2432, which would help make repayments more manageable by allowing borrowers to refinance student loans, which right now they aren't allowed to do.

“Home owners can refinance their mortgage loans . . . businesses can refinance their loans,” but the government doesn’t permit the refinancing of student loans, she told thousands of REALTORS® and others attending the 2016 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington. Warren estimated that borrowers would save $650 million a year in interest payments if they could refinance their debt.

Some $1.3 trillion in student loans are outstanding, and Warren said the government is making $60 billion a year in profits off of them, as they are federally backed. That’s “wrong,” she said.

About 40 million Americans today are making monthly payments on student loans, and each year another million college graduates join their ranks. Warren said it’s not unusual for students to graduate with $25,000 to $50,000 in debt, creating a burden than hobbles them just as they're trying to enter the job market, buy a home, and get their lives started.

“That’s money that could have been a down payment on a house or monthly payments that could have gone to mortgage payments,” she said.

The last time the legislation was taken up, she said, it came two votes shy of cloture, which is a procedure that enables a bill to be considered on the Senate floor without the possibility of a filibuster.

The NAR Board of Directors later this week will be looking at what policy position to take on the student debt issue. Warren praised REALTORS® for their central role in building the U.S. economy. “You have been in the business of helping to build the middle class,” she said. “Everything you do ultimately ties to these core issues . . . so now it’s up to us to put some energy behind” the student debt problem.

—Robert Freedman, REALTOR® Magazine