U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, speaks with students in an Introduction to American Government class at the University of New Hampshire on Monday about the issue of student loan debt. (Gretyl Macalaster Photo)
Sen. Shaheen tells UNH class that student loan debt exceeds U.S. credit card debt
Nearly every student in the introduction to American government class indicated they had student loan debt, most of it from federal loans, and most expressed worry about how they will pay off those debts when they graduate.
She said addressing the student loan debt issue will benefit not only students, but the local and national economies.
The size of Pell grants was increased, a proposal to increase the interest rate on federal Stafford loans failed to pass,and a change was made to the federal loan program to get rid of “middlemen,” which has saved about $68 million, some of which has gone back into scholarships and financial aid for students, Shaheen said.
She said a cap was also passed on repayment of loans to 10 percent of what an individual is making.
She provided examples of ways she has reached across the aisle to work with senators from around the country on a variety of issues, including energy and a proposal for a biennial instead of annual budget process. She’s also worked with U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., on issues related to the military and veterans.
Only a few students indicated they planned to stay in New Hampshire after graduation. Shaheen said she hopes more students consider staying, and also spoke briefly about the need for graduates in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM. In 2018, New Hampshire is going to need about 4,800 STEM graduates, she said.