By the Numbers: Student Loan Company Lobbying
A look at the student lending industry’s increase in lobbying over the last decade.
For the past year, Congress has been considering a reform to the federal student loan system, known as the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), that would cut subsidies to student loan companies and use the tens of billions of dollars that this would save to invest in education programs, including grants for low and middle income students. While investing in education by making government more efficient should be a no-brainer, there has been one constant obstacle: the well funded and politically connected student loan industry lobby.
The lending industry is no stranger to Capitol Hill. Since 1999, the industry as a whole has spent at least $62,567,134 lobbying Congress on everything from changing interest rates on student loan consolidation to protecting their federal subsidies. If, as an industry, they decided to help students instead of lobbying (usually against their interests), they could have forgiven the loans of 2,696 borrowers (at the average level for 2008 graduates), provided grants of equal size to the 2009-2010 maximum Pell grant to 11,694 students, or reduced monthly loan payments by $100 for 52,139 struggling borrowers for a year. They could have also bought 33 private golf courses for their executives. After all, why should Sallie Mae’s Al Lord have all the fun?
As a historic bill in Congress that would cut subsidies to student loan companies and use the savings to invest in education nears a vote, Campus Progress combed through lobbying disclosure forms to put together some data on student loan industry lobbying. We didn’t include it all, mostly because some of the major lenders to students are also big commercial banks, but we did include some of the subsidiaries of the major companies.
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Pedro de la Torre III is a former Advocacy Senior Associate at Campus Progress.
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