Cicilline introduces legislation to make colleges more affordable

PROVIDENCE – Rep. David N. Cicilline, D-R.I., on Aug. 1 introduced legislation in the U.S. House to help make college more affordable for students.

Cicilline says the proposed Making College More Affordable Act hopes to address the root causes of significant college student debt. He said approximately 46 million U.S. residents are working to pay off more than $1.75 trillion in student loan debt.

The proposed act would address student debt through a five-point approach, Cicilline says. It would create an automatic payroll deduction, thereby simplifying the payment process by deducting monthly payments in the same way that Social Security contributions are currently deducted; lower the required monthly payment for undergraduate student loans from the current range of 10%-20% of a borrower’s after-tax income to a starting contribution of 4% of pre-tax income, with payments increasing for incomes more than $100,000 annually; eliminate interest on student loans; make student loans a defined 30-year loan similar to a home mortgage; and allow Americans to refinance existing student loan debt by entering into this new system.

“Far too many Rhode Islanders and young people across this country are being forced to either take on massive, and often insurmountable, debt or give up their pursuits of a college degree,” Cicilline said in a statement. “This is unacceptable – higher education cannot just be a privilege of the wealthy – it must be accessible and affordable to every student looking to continue to their education and set themselves up for the career path they choose.”

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James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.