Congresswoman Lee Marks 50th Anniversary of Higher Education Act by Calling for Action to Address Crippling Student Loan Debt

Oakland, CA – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a member of the education funding subcommittee, released this statement marking the 50th anniversary of the Higher Education Act:

“For fifty years, the Higher Education Act has opened the doors of educational opportunity to millions by making college more accessible and affordable. 

As we mark this milestone anniversary, Congress must come together and recommit to strengthening and expanding affordable educational opportunities for all.  We must start by reauthorizing the Higher Education Act.

As the cost of college continues to rise, more students and families, particularly those from low-income communities and communities of color, are being saddled with massive amounts of debt. Today, student loan debt in America totals more than $1.3 trillion and is the second largest source of household debt after mortgages. The average borrower has accumulated nearly $30,000 in student loan debt and this debt burden is threatening our economy as borrowers delay starting a family and making major consumer purchases.

It’s past time for Congress to get serious about this crisis that’s crippling our economy and preventing too many families from getting ahead.  I am proud to be co-sponsoring the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act (H.R. 1434) and Student Loan Interest Deduction Act (H.R. 509) which would start to address this crisis by allowing the refinancing of federal student loans and doubling the allowed tax deduction for student loan interest, respectively.

As a member of the education funding subcommittee, I remain committed to ensuring accessible and affordable education for all.”


Congresswoman Lee is a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, the Steering and Policy Committee, is a Senior Democratic Whip, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. She serves as chair of the Whip’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.