A new Iowa congressman says he’s an example of what can be achieved if college loans are more affordable for those who can least afford college. Congressman Dave Loebsack, a Democrat from Mount Vernon, says that’s one reason he’s supporting a bill that would cut in half the interest rates on some government-backed student loans.
"I would not have been able to go to college at Iowa State University and then on to graduate school if it had not been for low-interest student loans," Loebsack says. "At that time it was three percent." According to Loebsack, he "grew up in poverty" in Sioux City and would never have been able to afford to go to college without scholarships, grants and government-backed loans.
"I wouldn’t have gotten to Cornell College as a professor and I wouldn’t be in Congress right now if it weren’t for all those programs," Loebsack says. The U.S. House passed the "Student Relief Act" late Wednesday. It would cut the interest rate on federal "needs-based" Stafford college loans to three-point-four percent.
Loebsack says in Iowa, the average student who starts college in 2007 will accumulate about 14-thousand dollars worth of loans by the time they graduate. If the bill cutting the interest rate becomes law, Loebsack estimates an individual Iowa student who qualifies for a "needs-based" federal loan would save 23-hundred dollars.
For the past 24 years, Loebsack was a political science professor at Cornell College. In November, Loebsack defeated Republican Congressman Jim Leach to win Iowa’s second district seat in the U.S. House.
Iowa’s other two Democratic congressmen, Bruce Braley of Waterloo and Leonard Boswell of Des Moines, and Republican Congressmen Tom Latham of Alexander voted for the bill. Congressman Steve King, a Republican from Kiron, did not cast a vote on the bill.