Texas is home to a slew of politicians, congressional districts, and varying levels of student loan debt. While the state has below average student loan debt per borrower, some of its districts, particularly the ones located in central Texas, are leaving students with outsized debt, shown from new research from LendEDU.
Take Texas District 21 for starters. The central Texas district has been run by Rep. Lamar Smith, the Republican for the last thirty years, and it sports an average student loan debt of $41,511, the highest in the state. More than seventy-five percent of graduates in District 21 are borrowing student loans, although the default rate of 7.55 percent is lower than the national average of 11.3 percent. While there are various different student loan reforms making the rounds, Rep. Smith only makes a point to back lower interest rates on federal student loans. Smith may have been in office for decades, but he isn’t the author of any significant student loan reform or college affordability bills during his tenure.
Another central Texas district that is leaving students with above average debt is District 20, home to Democrat Rep. Joaquin Castro who has been in office for four years. While the lawmaker supports a slew of reforms including lower interest rates on federal loans, the expansion of the Pell Grant program, federal student loan refinancing, and improving financial literacy, his congressional district averages $35,952 in student debt per graduate. Close to 70 percent of graduates in his district have at least one loan. Despite this, the default rate in the district is also below the national average at 6.14 percent.
District 25 in central Texas is yet another example of a district that is churning out graduates with above average student debt. Led by Republican Rep. Roger Williams, the district has an average student loan debt per borrower of $36,123 with 71 percent of graduates having a student loan. Just like Smith in District 21, Williams expressly supports keeping interest rates on student loans low which is evident from his vote in favor for the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act in 2013. Other than that supportive action, he hasn’t played too much of a role in fighting student loan debt. A fiscal conservative, Rep. Williams supports lowering the federal budget which usually puts funding for education programs at risk.
So how do these three Central Texas districts compare against the overall state of Texas? Not so hot according to the same research from LendEDU. The average Texan student loan debt per graduate stands at $27,048 with 58 percent of graduates owing at least one loan. The state default rate of 7.39 percent isn’t incomparable to central Texas. To put this into an even larger perspective, the national average student debt per borrower is $28,400, and the default rate for about 60% of college students with loans is roughly 12 percent.
Author: Andrew Rombach
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