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Some Members of U.S. Congress Still Paying Student Loans

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida doesn’t stand out as a member of Congress with a law degree. He does as a lawmaker who is still paying for it.

Annual financial disclosure reports released today show that the first-term Republican owes at least $100,000, and as much as $250,000, in student loans through Sallie Mae incurred in 1996, the year he earned a law degree from the University of Miami. He reported the same range of outstanding student loans last year.

Also owing money on their student loans are Representative Linda Sanchez, a five-term California Democrat, and four-term Republican Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington.

Sanchez owes more than $15,000, and may owe as much as $50,000, on the student loan she took out in 1992 to attend law school at the University of California at Los Angeles. Rodgers owes more than $10,000 on a student loan she took out in 2003, and earned a master’s of business administration from the University of Washington in 2002.

They’re the exceptions, according to lawmakers’ financial disclosure forms. As Congress considers whether to allow a temporary reduction in student-loan interest rates to expire, lawmakers generally are not among the Americans with student-loan debt that lingers long after they are established in their careers.

6.8 Percent

Unless Congress intervenes, on July 1 those who take out new student loans will pay an interest rate of 6.8 percent. The current rate is 3.4 percent.

Total student loan debt reached $904 billion in the first quarter, up from $874 billion three months earlier, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Student loan debt totaled more than credit card debt nationally. Student loan debt rose by $64 billion from last year, even as all other forms of household debt fell by $383 billion.

Rodgers, vice chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, was the only member of the House leadership to report a student loan liability. Members were required to disclose any debts greater than $10,000.

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