Senators push for student loan refinancing

By Kelly McCarthy

May 14, 2014 Updated May 14, 2014 at 11:19 PM EDT

Vestal, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is pushing for legislation that would allow college graduates to refinance their student loans, the same way homeowners and businesses do.

As Binghamton University seniors prepare for graduation weekend, there's more than just celebrations running through their minds.

"It's completely terrifying," said Emily Gandolfo, a senior majoring in English.

She added, "I'm graduating on Sunday and I have six months to get my life together and get money to pay back these loans."

"That's what is partially bittersweet," said Sam Rieger, a senior majoring in neuroscience, "because I have to graduate and pay off all these student loans."

A piece of legislation is working to ease that burden. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand co-sponsors the "Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act" that would allow all college graduates to refinance their student loans.

"So we want to make sure every student can refinance their loans at the going rate of about four percent," said Gillibrand. "If they do that, they will save thousands and thousands of dollars in interest payments that they would otherwise have to make."

According to Gillibrand's office, more than 16 percent of people with student loans in the Southern Tier haven't made a payment in at least 90 days.

Gillibrand said fewer loan payments would mean a boost in the economy. The average student is graduating with about $30,000 in debt.

"It's going to be a great burden, because of course I want to save up, start a family, get a house, who knows," said senior Sarah Netz, a Biochemistry major.

"But instead, they're sending a check to the federal government because they hold their federal student loan," Gillibrand said. "It's ridiculous; it is not helpful to the economy- it's a drag on the economy.

The federal government has made more than $66 billion in the past decade off of student loan interest payments.

This is a cost students would love to eliminate.

"The fact that I could get lower interest is huge," Netz said. "It's really the interest that looms over you."

The Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act has more than two dozen co-sponsors.

Senator Gillibrand expects the bill to go to a vote sometime in June. She said she's optimistic the bill will pass because it's a bill that affects both democrats and republicans.

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