Cicilline Introduces Bill to Combat Student Debt Crisis, Help College Graduates Get Ahead

Oct 18, 2019

WASHINGTON – Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC) Chair David N. Cicilline (RI-01) introduced the Making College More Affordable Act today to make it possible for low and middle-income people to attend college without having to take on an insurmountable amount of student debt.


“As the 21st Century economy continues to demand a more skilled and educated workforce than ever before, many young adults are being forced to borrow tens of thousands and sometimes even more in student loans,” Cicilline said. “There is no reason the federal government should be making money on the backs of these recently graduated college students who are just trying to get ahead.”


Under the current student loan repayment system, borrowers pay on average 10 to 20% of their discretionary income after taxes, and interest continues to accrue on a daily basis regardless of whether their loans are in repayment, deferment, or forbearance. This can be extremely harmful on low income families who are only exempt from making payments if their income is at or below 150% of the poverty line, currently just $17,800 for an individual.


Cicilline’s bill overhauls the current federal student loan repayment system to make it work for borrowers, not the federal government and student loan servicers, by:


  • Requiring that borrowers pay 4% of their pre-tax income when they make less than $100,000 per year, increasing to 5% for those with income over $100,000, and limiting payments to no more than 10% for anyone making over $150,000;
  • Eliminating payments for households with incomes below 337% of the federal poverty line, or approximately $40,000 per year;
  • Stopping interest from accruing on loans that are in good standing during repayment or while the borrower earns less than $40,000 per year; and
  • Extending the loan repayment period to 30 years.


The Making College More Affordable Act, which Cicilline introduced with the support of Congresswoman Janice D. Schakowsky (IL-09), Congressman José E. Serrano (NY-15), and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), now heads to the House Education and Workforce Committee for further action.


Full text of the bill is available by clicking here.