Members of Congress Feel Student Loan Pain Firsthand
They know it firsthand: Many lawmakers still owe money on student loans they took out either for themselves or for their children. In fact, five senators and 41 members of the House list student loans of some type as a liability, according to financial disclosure forms for 2011 (the most recent available) analyzed by OpenSecrets.org. The money owed on the loans adds up to between $1.8 million and $4.3 million.
Much of the borrowing appears to have been for lawmakers' own educations. The member who reported having the most debt was freshman Rep. Raul Ruiz, whose listed student loan debt is between $115,001 and $300,000. (The California Democrat and adoptive son of migrant farmworkers appears to have taken to school, graduating magna cum laude from UCLA and collecting a medical degree and two other graduate diplomas from Harvard.) In fact, of the five members of Congress who reported owing at least $100,000 on student loans in 2011, four of them took out the loans for themselves or a spouse. But at least 13 members have loans that are listed as either Parent Plus loans, or loans that were co-signed for children or, in one case, a niece. (In some cases, it's not clear who the loans were for.)
Just as the amount of student loan debt has climbed nationally -- at nearly $1 trillion, it now tops credit card debt -- the number of members of Congress with such debt has climbed in the last several years. Disclosure reports filed in 2008 showed that only three senators and 27 House members had student loan debt the year before, totaling between $970,000 and $2.4 million.
|Name||Minimum Value||Maximum Value|
|Rep. James Bridenstine (R)||$100,001||$250,000|
|Rep. John Carter (R)||$100,001||$250,000|
|Rep. Gerry Connolly (D)||$55,003||$165,000|
|Rep. Louis B. Gohmert Jr. (R)||$70,001||$130,000|
|Rep. Tom McClintock (R)||$60,001||$115,000|
|Rep. Grace Meng (D)||$100,001||$250,000|
|Rep. Pedro Pierluisi (D)||$65,002||$150,000|
|Rep. Raul Ruiz (D)||$115,002||$300,000|
|Rep. Tom Rooney (R)||$100,001||$250,000|
|Rep. Kevin Yoder (R)||$80,003||$200,000|
Warren and Murphy will join the Senate Education committee, which last year had no members with any listed student loan debt.
The pressure could ramp up if budget sequestration kicks in this year, because the Pell grant program for students is likely to be cut. Fewer grants likely means more students will take out loans.
Several lawmakers called for comment on their student loans were unavailable.