California’s Linda Sanchez doesn’t stand out as a House member with a law degree. What’s unusual is that she’s still paying for it.
The annual financial disclosure reports released today show that the five-term Democrat still owes more than $15,000 – and could owe as much as $50,000 — on the student loan she took out in 1992, before she headed off to UCLA law school.
In the same boat, or maybe similar boats of different sizes: Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and four-term Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state. Rubio owes more than $100,000 in loans incurred in 1996, the year he earned a law degree from the University of Miami. McMorris Rogers still owes more than $10,000 on a student loan she took out in 2003. She earned an MBA from the University of Washington in 2002.
A quick review of the disclosure forms indicates that they are the exceptions. As Congress considers whether to allow a temporary reduction in student-loan interest rates to expire, the decision-makers largely aren’t among the Americans with student-loan debt that lingers long after they are established in professional careers.
McMorris Rodgers, who serves as vice chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, was the only member of the House or Senate leadership to report a student-loan liability. Members were required to disclose, within a range of figures, any debts greater than $10,000.
Total student-loan debt hit $904 billion in the first quarter, up from $874 billion three months earlier, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Those debts, more than the total owed on credit cards, rose by $64 billion year over year, even as all other forms of household debt fell by $383 billion.
Unless Congress intervenes, as of July 1 individuals who take out new student loans will pay an interest rate of 6.8 percent, twice the current — and temporary — rate of 3.4 percent.
From Bloomberg Government’s Congress Tracker
Greg Giroux contributed to this post