Known to all, student loan debt is at a crisis level in the United States with the country collectively owing more than $1.4 trillion. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisles are floating all solutions to the crisis, but the aim remains consistent: reduce student debt and help affected borrowers financially. Despite the common cause, the overall congressional effort is fragmented at best with party lines driving a wedge into productivity.
Many congressmen and women cannot seem to get on the same page when it comes to addressing student loans. While one look at the national picture should incite political cohesiveness, a closer look at individual congressional districts paints a completely different picture.
That’s the case for Colorado, home to both Republican and Democratic lawmakers according to new research from LendEDU. Overall, the state is doing better than average when it comes to student loan debt per graduate; Coloradan graduate borrowers owe $26,095 on average, just below the national average of $28,000. The Colorado default rate is at 5.96 percent which is lower than the national rate of 11.8 percent. However, when you dig deeper into the state of Colorado, a different picture presents itself.
Student loan debt per graduate varies widely from one district to another. Take District 5 in central Colorado which is led by Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn. Borrowers in District 5 have student loan debt of $21,979, the lowest in the state, with a default rate of only 3.56 percent. A below average 41 percent of graduates owe at least one loan; according to this data, District 5 is better off than the rest of the state. When it comes to college affordability, Rep. Lamborn supports maintaining low federal student loan interest rates and tax benefits for student borrowers. When commenting on a housing bill, Lamborn claimed to “support recovery policies that encourage private lending and investment” which hints that he opposes federal intervention in the student loan industry.
Rep. Mike Coffman, the Republican from District 6, supports a slew of student debt reform, more so than his colleague, Rep. Lamborn. He supports keeping interest rates low, expanding the Pell Grant program, the refinancing federal student loans, improving financial literacy among student borrowers, and providing tax benefits for borrowers. Despite this, his district has the highest student loan debt in the state. Student borrowers from Coffman’s district owe an average of $32,579; however, the district does have a low default rate of 2.1 percent. The other four districts in Colorado have student loan debt ranging from as low as $24,781 to as high as $27,142, underscoring the disparity of student loan health on a district-by-district basis.
Another interesting takeaway from comparing these two politicians is the difference between their college affordability initiatives. Though of the same party, Rep. Lamborn favors privatization of student loans while Rep. Coffman is a proponent of several federal student loan programs that would increase federal intervention in the industry. Internal party divisions are rarely a good sign, especially if action is required in order to stem the rise of student debt.
Author: Dave Rathmanner
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